On Completing Pre-Employment Assessments

March 23rd, 2011

This blog post in response to a LinkedIn poll for the following question:  Would you complete a 25-minute assessment to identify whether you fit a company’s culture when applying for a job?

Having worked on all sides of assessments for over a dozen years – creating, using, writing and evaluating RFP/Qs for per-employment assessment tools, and completing them as a prospective candidate – I feel they can benefit both the prospective candidate and employer with certain caveats.

In almost all circumstances cultural fit is almost as important as functional competency – most organizations, like people, have very clear and distinct cultures or personalities. As many respondents have correctly acknowledged, you can excel at what you do from a functional perspective, but unless you are in an environment that values and nurtures what you do – more than likely you will either fail or be miserable or both, and consequently be a less engaged and less productive employee – the proverbial ‘fish out of water’. The reverse is also often true, if you are relatively new to a function or not as strong as you could be, but work in an environment where you are valued and nurtured – you will grow and ultimately become more competent and thrive, and an engaged and loyal employee.

The caveat for employers is that if you are going to use a pre-employment assessment for cultural fit – it needs to be valid, reliable and accurately calibrated to predict success in your organization’s culture for it to be legally defensible, ethical and worth the investment. The other challenging parts are keeping it current and relevant, i.e., organizational cultures change over time, and there can be several distinct subcultures within an organization. I feel if organizations want to require a cultural assessment as part of the employment process they need to be clear that it meets these criteria so that candidates can feel confident that completing it could contribute to their success.

The caveat for prospective candidates is that you need to be honest. I have coached many clients and prospective candidates on completing pre-employment assessments. Often people will feel the need to answer questions in a certain way in order to be considered for a position – in other words attempting to game or skew the results in order to be hired. This is a strategy that is doomed to fail for two important reasons: first, most assessments are designed to detect and filter for this tactic, and will eliminate or disqualify a candidate who does this; second, it just doesn’t make sense – if you have to lie in order to obtain employment, how successful and happy do you think you will be once you have the position? Or to put it in another context, if you are dating someone (or completing an online dating profile) and you pretend to be someone you’re not in order to win that person, when you succeed – how happy will you be (not to mention the other person) and how long do you think a relationship will last if you have to continually pretend to be someone else??

Finally, if you are really interested in a position and organization – 25 minutes is a small investment to ensure that you may thrive in the culture of your prospective employer. And organizations also have a responsibility to respond to candidates who invest the time to complete a pre-employment assessment.

Leave a Reply

Contact Jerry

Voice: +49 (0)151 64 64 74 26
Email: info@pkwconsulting.com
Skype: jerrypico

Other Links:
LinkedIn Twitter