“Not for Us.” How Pre-Employment Testing Helped One Manager Avoid Hiring the Right Person for the Wrong Job
It’s 3:00 PM on a weekday, and you—a teetotaler—could really use a glass of wine. Finally, your “nightmare hire” has left the building.His tenure was short but full of drama. In all, you endured five months of incomplete assignments, botched work, missing files, complaints, and ignored instructions.
You thought your hiring process was solid. You’d written a thorough job description. You’d hired a reputable recruiter who’d assured you the candidate was “perfect.” You’d reviewed his resume carefully and asked all the right questions during the interview. The candidate had asked all the right questions, too. Your gut said hire him, but your gut had been dead wrong! Before too long, you’d learn your new hire didn’t have half the experience he’d claimed and worse, his aptitude to do the job was nearly nonexistent.
Well, you may not be a drinker, but you’re done for the day. You grab your stuff, tell your boss you’re pooped (she gets it), and head to the local cafe. Once inside and settled at a table, you look over and see a former coworker, Elaine. You wave and Elaine comes over and sits down across from you. She inquires how you’re doing, and you tell her. You ask again (this time out loud), “Where did I go wrong?”
Elaine gives you a sympathetic look, sighs, and says, “This is why I won’t hire anyone without a pre-employment assessment. Let me tell you a story…”
A Bullet Dodged
“Once upon a time,” Elaine smiles cheekily, “I was in the market for an insurance underwriter. The previous underwriter, whom I’d inherited, had resigned, and that was just fine with me. She spent more time chatting than working. In fact, she saved me the trouble of firing her!
Anyway, now I get to hire someone better, but I knew it would take a little digging. Good underwriters can be hard to find. I wanted someone with experience in our specific industry, and of course this person had to have solid financial skills and good technical skills. But that’s not all. An underwriter must be detail oriented, thorough, analytical, and decisive. Finally, he or she has to enjoy working alone, because that’s generally what the job requires. Someone who has a hard time sitting in her seat (like the employee who left) isn’t an ideal match.
A colleague tells me he knows someone who knows someone who’s looking for an underwriter job. I get the guy’s resume, and he looks great. I give him a call, and he sounds great. I invite him to interview, and he presents great! He’s dressed appropriately, he’s articulate, he’s funny—all that stuff. I’m ready to offer him the job. But my boss says ‘Hold on, before we hire anyone we give a pre-employment assessment for fit.’ I’d never used one of those before and honestly thought it was going to be a total waste. Well, I was wrong! It turns out this candidate was completely unsuited for the job!
For example, instead of having a high-detail orientation and liking behind-the-scenes work (which he’d claimed), the tests showed he was more “big picture” and driven to take the lead. The tests also showed that he was probably going to want to move up well before the time frame we had in mind. But here’s the kicker: Because the candidate wasn’t a good fit for the job, the assessment report showed he’d probably need significant and ongoing ‘intervention’ from me to perform satisfactorily, and that’s not how I like to manage! So while he definitely had some matching qualities, he wasn’t for us.”
You stare at Elaine. She smiles again. “I know what you’re thinking! No, we didn’t just lose his number! To be completely sure we weren’t missing anything, we discussed the report with the candidate. He agreed with the findings, and we parted amicably. In fact, if I ever need an underwriting supervisor, I may give him a call.”
Elaine stands up and says, “Listen, I gotta go, but it was nice running into you! Here, take my card, and if you’d like to learn more, give me a call.”
You thank Elaine and say goodbye as she hustles out the door. Then you pick up her card. You’ve never considered the benefits of pre-employment testing before, but maybe it’s time.