Assessing the right skills while hiring
In today’s economy, making wrong choices while recruiting is not something that the HR can afford
Presence of traits such as agreeableness and extraversion makes someone a high performer vs those who do not possess these traits
A company’s greatest assets are its people. No matter how great the business idea is or how big the brand is, the success of any organization is highly correlated with having the right set of people to drive it. Not only organizations, the talents and skills in people can help drive nations -Our Government has for the first time embarked on skill development programs and this is in line with the above.
Hiring the right person for the right job isn’t easy. In today’s economy, making wrong choices while recruiting is not something that the HR can afford. So how do we sieve talent from bad to average, average to good and good to great? Our National Employability Reports for engineers, MBA graduates and the three year degree course graduates all show that a big proportion of students lack basic language skills. Cognitive (popularly known as aptitude) and language skills are an established predictor of a candidate’s job success across the globe. Tests measuring these skills have today become one of the lynchpins of the hiring regime at almost every organization. Language and cognitive skills thus form the first level differentiator in sieving out the completely unemployable lot from the list of applicants.
In order to go further and be able to segregate the good from the average, cognitive and language skill assessment alone is not enough. For roles involving interacting with or managing people, personality traits are a key predictor of performance. Presence of traits such as agreeableness and extraversion makes someone a high performer vs those who do not possess these traits. However, personality tests leave a lot of variance unexplained in job performance – it doesn’t tell us whether the candidate has the soft skills and practical intelligence to handle, say, tricky client situations.
Situational Judgment tests come handy here. More often known as SJTs, the test assesses a candidate by posing simulated real life job situations in front of him/her and probes the candidate to understand how he/she would react or respond to the situation. For example, the Aspiring Minds Sales SJT poses a situation where a customer praises a competitor’s product and asks the candidate to pick the best and the worst way to handle such a situation. Based on the candidate’s choice of response, we get an insight of how well the candidate will handle such situations, which are critical to their success in these jobs.
In summary, for roles such as customer service, sales, operations and managers, the personality and situation handling skills help to differentiate the good from the average.
In view of the foregoing, while hiring for core jobs, assessment of functional skills becomes the key talent metric. For instance, for a software developer, the skills in software development and programming become the key differentiator to be a very good candidate. These skills aren’t easily found. The National Employability Report for Engineers shows that only 3.28% engineers have skills needed for a software engineer, whereas less than 25% graduates have skills to be in an accounting role. Lack of functional skills is the biggest reason for low employability in these roles.
Tools like Automata, a simulated test of programming which mimics interviewer grades using machine learning, works very well in such cases. It can quickly help differentiate between the good and the average programmers. Also this is scalable.
Thus, in order to hire ‘good’ candidates and not run a mediocre organization, one needs to objectively understand the skills required in high performers and then use objective and standardized assessments to sift through candidates. To achieve this, one needs to go beyond the usual aptitude and language assessments to more sophisticated personality, situation handling and functional skills assessment tools.
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