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Best practice recruitment: Psychometric assessment

A wrong hire can cost a company a small fortune. Christine Fitzherbert, executive director human resources at Royal Melbourne Hospital, says the concept of the right person in the right role at the right time is simple enough, but why do so many employers still get it wrong? Increasingly employers are using psychometric assessment as a valuable tool to provide a greater insight into candidates. Cherie Curtis, head of psychology at Onetest, says that much like an iceberg, there can be a lot happening ‘beneath the surface’ of a candidate – and resumes and application forms only reveal so much. Curtis also suggests that, thanks to technological advancements, psychometric assessment is no longer out of reach due to complexity or expense – it can and should be used as part of any recruitment process. What recruitment steps do acknowledged best employers undertake? Naomi Simson, founder of RedBalloon, and Cindy Grass, HR director of Millward Brown Australia, outline what their companies do to get the right people.

 

Video transcript below:

 

Clare Costigan, HC Online

Clare Costigan:  Hello, I’m Clare Costigan.  You are watching the Big Story on HC Online.
 
It’s no secret that hiring the wrong person can cost a company a fortune.  So why are so many organisations still making mistakes.  Christine Fitzherbert from Melbourne Health says the key to success of any venture is having the right person in the right role.
 
Christine Fitzherbert, Melbourne Health
Christine Fitzherbert:  It’s very simple.  A challenge finding the right people for the right job in the right place at the right time.  It’s a bit of a catch phrase, but I can’t describe it any better than that.  And that is finding the people that we need to fill the roles that we need filled.  And also ensuring that even if there are only 80% ready for those roles that we have in place strategies to develop the full capacity.  
 
Clare Costigan:  Head of Psychology of Onetest, Cherie Curtis says psychometric testing helps employers get a better understanding of any person applying for a role.  
 
Cherie Curtis, One Test
Cherie Curtis:  If we think about a candidate a little bit like an iceberg.  There are some things that we can see really clearly and tangibly above the surface and those things we can look for in a resume or an application form for example and we can get a pretty good understanding of things like skills and experiences.  But what’s it below the surface, this is actually the bulk of the influencing aspect of an iceberg and a candidate and influences its direction, its motivation, its shape, its movement, a whole range of things and it’s those elements that psychometric testing is designed to actually measure.
 
Clare Costigan:  Well in the past psychometric testing may have seemed out of reach to many businesses, Cherie says that’s no longer the case.
 
Cherie Curtis:  Previously there has been some barriers in terms of the complexity that you needed a psychologist to actually be involved in the administration, the scoring, the reporting and so forth and from a budget perspective because of that labour intensive involvement, they tended to be fairly expensive.  Now that’s shifted dramatically with technology and now most assessments are delivered online without the need for a psychologist to be involved face to face in each transaction or interaction and HR professionals, line managers are really equipped to use these tools very practically in the recruitment process.
 
Clare Costigan:  Getting a sense of the type of person applying for the role can make all the difference.  Planning Director of Red Balloon, Naomi Simson has some strategies.  
 
Naomi Simson:  One of our great things that we do is group interviewing because we want to see how people operate when they are with other people and we just, it’s only on a first name basis, we don’t talk to them anything technical about the role, but we want to make sure that we get to know that person.  “You know what did you think about the values?”  “Which one related to you?”  “What book have you read recently?”  There are all kind of nebulous questions, but we are watching how people interact very carefully.  Often there will be a technical task.  If they are going to be customer experience, “can they answer an email, what does that look like?”  Then finally they kind of get to meet the team and ultimately their manager.
 
Cindy Grass, Millward Brown
Cindy Grass:  We have quite a rigorous graduate interview process.  Quite intense actually, I think it would be difficult to go through it myself, but there is a lot of the, just not the testing we do, numeracy testing, attention to detail testing, powerpoint, technical skills, we have behavioural interviews, we get them to do a case study presentation.  So and then there is some other profiling that we look at across the whole business and they probably get interviewed by about 4 or 5 people.
Clare Costigan:  Once the role has been filled, Cherie Curtis says employers can look to take advantage of new technology to monitor an employee during their life cycle at the company.  
 
Cherie Curtis:  Technology is now important, because we are seeing a huge change in the nature of social media and how people have expectations about technology in the workplace.  So candidates now are actually looking for technology to come into their recruitment process.  And it presents an organisation as being a bit more of an employer of choice, if they had a fairly slick process and psychometric testing is one way of adding in that technology, that interaction, that engagement with the candidates that they are really looking for.
 
Clare Costigan:  For more on pre-employment screening and other HR issues, click around HC Online.  I am Clare Costigan, I will see you again soon with the Big Story.