Employee Staffing, Placement, and Selection
If you have ever calculated the cost of a bad recruitment decision, you’d never spend less than 24 hours on an interview ever again. Scientific recruitment techniques have been available for decades and yet employers still recruit almost on impulse and then blame the candidate when it doesn’t work out.
Yes, that was “bad recruitment decision” and not “recruiting bad people” because, in general, most people are not truly bad. They might lie to get a job; then you find out a week, a month or a year later when they can’t do what they said they could and, if you’re sensible, you have to sack them. The tragedy was not that they were lying but that you didn’t realize they were lying because your recruitment technique is poor.
The best evidence that someone can do a job is when they do the job right in front of your eyes. That’s the basis of scientific recruitment. Of course there are reams of psychometric tests that you will use to back up this evidence and the pressure of an extended “interview” has the magical effect of self-deselecting those who were hoping to slip under the radar.
Assessment Centers were first used during the Second World War to discover officer material amongst the inexperienced recruits who had no track record to show whether they were capable of doing one of the most critical jobs around at the time. Since then the Centers have been refined and adopted for use in commerce and industry to spectacular effect.
Depending on the criticality of the job to the business, Assessment Centers can take anything from a few hours to one full day including an overnight assignment. The language of Competencies has been interwoven with the language of Psychometrics to allow employers to specify the precise qualities they need in a successful candidate. This specification then drives the design of the activities that candidates will be asked to undertake. Everything they do will be observed “Big Brother” style by in-company experts to allow them to do the assessing. Each activity is scored and, by the end of the Assessment Center, a clear winner usually emerges.
On occasion, nobody meets the criteria and no job offer is made. This is not a bad result; it is just no result which means that the ideal candidate is not currently on the open market and you may have to resort to World War 2 tactics by identifying untapped potential in graduate recruits.
Of course, the people invited to Assessment Centers have already undergone conventional interviews but they are selected using the specification drawn up for the ideal candidate and they must convince the initial interviewers that they have the required qualities. They do this by explaining what they have done in the recent past that would demonstrate their strength in each competency and the interviewers select Center candidates by comparing this evidence.
To supporters of the one hour interview and the “hunch” approach to recruitment this will seem a terribly laborious approach but the proof is in the companies that use it assiduously. They are consistently Top 10 performers in their fields and have some of the longest service records on the planet, proving that these techniques are as good for the employees as they are for the employers.