I am writing this article because I heard a story over the weekend that mirrored one to my own experiences, and I wanted to make sure that others could learn from it so that we do not keep repeating the same hiring mistakes.

My story began like this…

When we finally parted ways, both of us were relieved. Eighteen months earlier our search firm had dumped 7 short-listed applicants on us to review and meet in order to fill a vacancy in our account team. The process that followed absorbed 32 hours over several interviews, and took 6 weeks to complete. At that point we had pre-qualified the compensation package, but were required to hand the process back to our search firm to negotiate the offer. Four weeks later our new employee arrived at our office to begin on-boarding; we were all full of expectation and enthusiasm, equally committed to mutual success.

After 8 months my growing feeling that we had mistaken fit had turned into ‘belief’. However, it was only after another 10 months of mediocre results, plus the mandated, and universally stressful performance management that we finally parted ways. Our expectation and enthusiasm had fully transitioned into disappointment and frustration, and was further aggravated by the hard costs of search, and a termination package that needed to reflect continuance for time with the previous employer. Finally, the ROI of search was emotionally diminished by the fact that our chosen candidate had also applied directly to the ad on our LinkedIn page!

When I reflect on that experience, I realize that we greatly overestimate our ability to identify fit, and search firms are not well positioned to help on this ‘most’ important aspect of the hiring process.

But there is a sunny side to sad stories, they can be the best teachers.  Today, I often suggest that clients increase their odds of successful recruiting by using some sort of psychometric test to help judge fit. While these tests come with a cost, they are much less than search fees, and deal with the truly difficult part of recruitment. (Unless you are hiring for that difficult-to-fill executive position, you can find candidates on your own using the web … they are all on-line!)

There are several psychometric tests from which to choose, what I believe is important in a test is that it assesses more than just personality; it should also include cognitive abilities, and motivational interests.

This is the trifecta of fit because it helps answer the key questions:

  1. Is the candidate capable to do the job?
  2. Are they likely to enjoy the work and provide discretionary effort?
  3. Will they be able to get along with those around them?

Next, a good test will allow you to use existing successful employees to build role profiles that you can benchmark candidates against; and, finally these tests should ideally integrate into your Applicant Tracking System, or come with a low-cost ATS option.

You will not guarantee success by getting a system like this in place, but you will increase your odds of success significantly; and if you have similar stories as mine, you should be able to leave them where they belong – in the past!

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