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About to hire a new employee? How will you assess their suitability for the job? After over 15 years of personal observations most hiring managers go into the hiring process without any framework of assessment. For those of you who are guilty of hiring by the ‘seat of your pants’, let me give you a few helpful pointers to get you more structured. Before starting the hiring process you need to evaluate the competencies required for the job. A competency is a set of behaviours (learned or innate), that demonstrates a job applicant, or current employee has the abilities, knowledge, skills and personal attributes to be successful on the job. These competencies can be based on 5 broad areas: Leading people – examples; strategic thinking, change management, commercial awareness Achieving results – examples; sales ability, planning & organising, customer service Working with others – examples; team works, written/verbal communication, Managing others – examples; managing performance, coaching and developing others Managing self – examples, initiative, integrity, resilience At AssessSystems, we recommend no more than 8 to 10 core competencies, the number or balance in the above areas will be driven by the specific job. Obviously competencies relating to Leading People, or Managing Others would not apply to say a retail sales person. Once you have a written list of competencies required to be successful in the job, you then need address what assessment procedures you will use to evaluate these. I define assessments as a process of gathering, discussing, measuring and evaluating information from multiple and diverse sources in order to develop a deeper understanding of a candidate’s knowledge, skill, experience, general mental ability, attitude, personality, values and motivations. In other words the candidate’s learned and innate behaviours as it relates to the job – I call this ‘Job Fit’. Here are the four suggested areas that are critical to assess within each of your specific job competencies. Obviously the job role will dictate the weight given to each, or whether assessment is need in that area at all. Can they do it? This relates to specific job knowledge, skills, training, and education. This is learned behaviour. How will they do it? This is innate behaviour - attitude, initiative, motivation, interests etc. Are they able to do it? Here we need to address physical capacity, dexterity, coordination, endurance. Have they done it? This all about past experience, accomplishments, roles held, job progression and promotion. Depending on the job, one would place greater weight on some of the above facets. For example, if we were hiring a sales manager we may what to place more weight on ensuring candidates demonstrated past experience. However, if we were hiring a sales person, we would focus more on the innate factors. For example; resilience, assertion, energy, motivation. This brief article does not allow space for a full analysis, but let’s look at each of the four areas above with some examples of how you could assess (measure) these. Can they do it? This is the simplest to assess and can be evaluated through: Knowledge test A work sample test Behavioural based interview How will they do it? This is really the domain of psychological profiling (employment tests), the only reliable and scientific way to measure a candidates innate characteristics. Here we could use: Interest and motivation inventories Personality tests Job engagement surveys Mental ability tests (problem solving and learning ability) Able to do it? The measure of physical capabilities: Physical task simulations Fitness assessments Dexterity and coordination tests Physical examination following appointment (with an out clause if failed) Done that – Past experience CV scan Behavioural based interview Structured reference check Job simulation test All too often our team at AssessSystems we will observe managers making important hiring decisions based on no competency frame work, or only partially assessing one or two areas of the competencies required. Managers usually hire on the ‘can do’ but always terminate, or have problem employees based on the ‘how will’ Recruiting new staff is a chore, and busy, frazzled managers always take short cuts finding it easier to assess candidates based on intuition, gut feel and emotional evaluation. Are you still bogged down approaching the hiring process by wading through dozens of CV looking for a person to hire? This is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. Today’s technology and the internet make it easy to collect and filter dozens of job applicants based on the four areas we have addressed above and to be able to communicate with these people more efficiently. Ask us about our Prevue Applicant Processing Platform And remember, always hire tough, manager easy! Rob McKay MA(Hons) Organisational Psychology Director of AssessSystems Aust/NZ Ltd He can be reached at: +64 9 414 6030


In the recent past, many companies looking to recruit were forced to use conventional methods of written applications and face to face interviews. If they were pursuing candidates from other geographical areas they would need to use telephone interviews, or time consuming Skype interviews. This is a highly inefficient use of time encouraging Hiring Managers to rush through the process. In many cases this would lead to hiring a “horror story” and costly exit strategies. Internet technology has introduced a number of ways to reduce recruiting time, cut costs and get better hires.

Pre-Screening Candidates


We all agree, checking the reference of prospective candidates is an essential part of the hiring process. Ive done a fair few during my career and always find them time consuming, but insightful.

The benefit of reference checking is the information you gain about understanding how a candidate will perform on the job – past behaviour reflects future behaviour. Simply verifying employment dates and asking superficial questions will typically leave you in the dark. You need to ask the right questions relevant to the specific job.


Most hiring managers rely on the CV as the primary source of candidate information. This is a dangerous practice given the amount to “untruths” in most CVs.

A CV is a summary of what the candidate wants you to know about them. It’s a candidate’s own version of the positive aspects of their background, knowledge, skills and experience. The negative aspects are left out or reworked to give a positive slant. For example, “I was made redundant due to the company downsizing my department” In reality, they may have been the only one in a team of 15 to be laid off, or even terminated. Or, “I did a 2 year certificate course in fashion design” but did they complete those two years and did they get the actual certificate?


Have you ever gone through a total hiring process only to have the applicant not accept the role due to the remuneration not being what was wanted by the candidate? This is a scenario we often hear from our clients. Why does this happen?

From our experience there are two schools of thought around advertising remuneration. A majority of clients don’t want to put remuneration into job advertisements – why? From a clients perspective there is the feeling candidates will not apply based solely on the pay. This assumes the prospective employer will be able to “sell” a good candidate in to accepting their terms.


In last week’s Herald I noted this article, “Job-seeker’s unfair-dismissal claim rejected” – strike one for the employer. A woman did not get hired as a pharmacy assistant because she “failed” to demonstrate at an interview that she was proficient at beauty therapy massaging. The authority deemed that the candidate was never employed and therefore couldn’t bring a personal grievance claim against the company. A big round of applause for the hiring manager, he was attempting to understand if the candidate could “really” do the job.

The work sample test is a powerful future job predictor at .54. Out of interest, when you combine cognitive abilities test (intelligence) with a work sample test, your predictive ability jumps to .60. These are very impressive figures.


A recent study by the University of Toledo demonstrated that a group of interviewers had, for the most part, made up their mind within 15 seconds of meeting the candidate - that’s as long as it takes for the parties to sit down!


Bill Gates once said: “The first rule of technology used in business is that automation applied to an efficient operation/process will greatly magnify the efficiency. The second rule is that automation applied to an inefficient operation/process will magnify the inefficiency!”


My daughter is currently applying for a full-time position in the retail fashion industry. She has completed her practical fashion technology courses with NZ Fashion Tech and has recently returned from Milan having attended IED studying Fashion Marketing and Merchandising. She has found her passion, and aspires to be a buyer for a retail fashion chain. She realises “working the floor” selling fashion is the critical starting point. To this end she has applied for several roles in medium to large fashion chains here in Auckland.

As you all know, I am on the other side of fence, so it has been a real eye-opener for me to hear her experiences. To be quite blunt, I am astounded at the way most of these businesses treat their candidates. From my daughter’s experiences, here’s what I have gleaned.


We all know that job candidates embellish, enhance, exaggerate – call it what you will – to make their CV and of course themselves, more appealing to hiring managers. There has been a great deal of research into the extent of lying in CVs. Figures run between 53% and 68% with college graduates being the worst at 70%. Many of these “little white lies” were not caught by managers, and providing the employee wasn’t a complete disaster on the job, nobody was the wiser.

But, in these tougher times, competition in the job market has driven many candidates to desperate measures. Little white lies have now turned into works of total fiction. Enter Here is an outfit that will create a complete work history for a job candidate. From their side, they create a “real” company with address, website and free phone number, and “real” mangers and referees. So when an employee calls to verify work history and performance, all checks out and the feedback is glowing! Blown away? It seems unbelievable, but true, checkout their website.


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Based on “Big 5”, measures cognitive ability, motivations and interests, plus 12 personality characteristics. Six reports. Ability to build instant benchmarks. Links to our Online Applicant Tracking System. 

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ASSESS is our premium assessment. Competency based reports provide a detailed description of: Intellectual Abilities, Thinking Style, Work Approach and Motivation, Interpersonal Style, Approach to Influencing or Supervising Others.

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