What’s the goal of testing before hiring? Many hiring managers view this as the magic bullet that is going to get them the perfect hire, while some view it as a necessary hurdle to closing positions.
However, mostly it is important to enhance the interview process and remove bias from it to hire the right fit. Because in an average interview many things are oversold including both experience and work accomplished, so testing can help us see though some of this fog, equip a trained interviewer to ask targeted questions and understand the responses much better, and remove bias from the hiring process.
In an exclusive webcast in association with Pearson, Yuri Roy, who heads Talent Acquisition at Tech Mahindra Business Services, shared insights into the A to Z of testing before hiring and why it becomes imperative in an interview process.
Defining the primary objective of testing before hiring
Before diving into the how and why of testing before hiring, it’s important to understand the objective behind it. Yuri shared that testing before hiring is a very individual activity-as an organization you need to decide what is the purpose the testing needs to serve.
Testing is a very archaic model-when we peg these tests, we generally look for technical skills and put a cutoff on them which the organization deems a right one. When they look at the testing scores, the tests can either give a binary answer or a linear progression. But stack ranking on testing may not be the correct way to get the best person. That’s because the difference between a person who gets 9/10 in a test is very minute from someone who scores 10/10 and uneventful for the course of a business.
Removing bias from the hiring process
There are various ways to select people for an organization and the traditional interview process is like democracy-it’s not the perfect system but it’s the least broken system. But what happens in a person to person interaction is that a lot of bias creeps in. One is the conscious bias and all organizations should avoid people who display this bias. The other one is the unconscious bias, which is less visible and people are not aware that they have this bias. However it does affect the way they select or reject people depending on their caste, gender, or maybe even how far they stay from office.
However, organizations need to make sure they select people only based on their ability and how they will meet your bottom line or achieve your KPIs. So in an interview, you should have calibrated people-people who know they have an unconscious bias and are constantly checking it, so that they can continuously evolve over time.
Applicability of testing based on roles
Broadly, tests can be divided into technical assessment or skill assessment tests. From a softer side, there are integrity tests, cognitive ability tests, personality tests, and emotional intelligence tests. One such tool is Pearson TalentLens whose assessments help you recruit and develop the best talent for your organisation with some of the best tests around communication, cognition, and personality.
However, all of these are not silver bullets. These tests merely give you scores and the person doing the interview needs to understand what to do with the outputs of these tests.
For instance, if you are looking for a Senior VP or Director, there is no point in taking a technical assessment test because the person would already have 15-20 years of experience in the field. Asking him a technical question would only display incongruence in your hiring strategy and the output that you desire. So when you are doing testing, it is essential to understand what kind of testing you would need for somebody.
For instance, for someone coming in for a very junior role, technical testing is essential. But it does not mean that he needs to know 100 percent of everything. Similarly, when you look at the softer personality tests, there’s no right and wrong here. It needs to be matched with the company culture. So suit your tests accordingly so that the people who join you are happy to be there.
In addition, one should also remember that a JD for a role only accounts for the stated needs but unstated needs of the role amount to some 50-70%. So if you are looking for someone creative, you will depend more on the personality tests.
Tools for testing
In the current scenarios, organizations are concerned about cheating by individuals when it comes to testing. There are various ways around it such as proctoring tools, camera setups that measure your eyes movement or facial movement. From a rudimentary sense, organizations can also do the initial homework during the interview by understanding if an individual knows about the content he will be tested on.
Yuri mentioned that what Mahindra does is largely that for every process or skill they hire, they look at if it is something that a test would help. If a test would help and has a tangible benefit, then the organization includes it. Otherwise, they do not include the test. So if you have a better way of separating the weed from the chaff, his advice to organizations is not to spend too much time on a bundle of tests.
Ultimately, organizations should realize that just because something was working for the last 10 years, it is not necessary it will continue to work for the next 10 years. So you need to look at your joining and testing criteria to see what is relevant and what has become outdated. Look at every single test critically and see what value it is adding to you and what is the time it is taking away. Secondly, look at test scores objectively. Lastly, the better you are able to visualize the unspoken needs that are not listed in the JD, the better you will get at hiring the right fit.