Modernize Your Hiring Decisions

Talent management is the greatest human resourcechallenge, as organizations make decisions on new hires for the first time innearly four years. Will these jobs be filled using an analytical process, orwill the hiring process be unstructured and haphazard?

Unfortunately, research shows that employers continue torely primarily on ?gut feel? in hiring decisions. For example, a 2008 study ofmore than 200 HR professionals, ?Stubborn Reliance on Intuition andSubjectivity in Employee Selection,? reported in Industrial and OrganizationalPsychology, revealed that by a factor of more than three to one, they believedthat unstructured interviews allowed them to learn more about candidates by?reading between the lines.?

The simple fact, however, is that in such a hit-and-missapproach, the HR managers? own personal perceptual filters and the judgmentsbased on them can be more of a hindrance than an aid in finding the rightperson for the job.

Testing and Consistency

Organizational talent management should focus on identifyingand hiring top performers who can be trained and advanced to progressivelygreater responsibility. However, we are often attracted to the personalitystyle and type that most closely resemble our own, and we may be tempted tohire accordingly. 

To hire objectively requires an objective measurement tool.It requires integrating personality testing into an assessment process thatwill identify the best talent and training programs for developing thecapabilities of new hires. By identifying which candidates have the potentialto excel and the type of performers they can be, personality testing makeshiring a systematic process.  

The Wall Street Journal has reported that more than 80percent of midsize and large companies use personality and ability assessmentsof new hires for at least some entry and midlevel positions. The formal aim ofthe tests may be to help the employer hire a specific type of individual for ajob that requires particular traits, or to rule out someone with traits thatare likely to lead to job failure.  

More importantly, the use of testing and assessment asrecruitment tools helps hiring managers objectively understand how jobcandidates will interact and communicate with other employees and clients ineveryday workplace situations. Effectively applied, it will make it easy toidentify candidates who will perform to their true potential in careers andpositions that are aligned with their interests and work styles. These are thepeople who are best qualified to spur improvements in quality and service.

Prediction and Performance

The more an assessment measures, the more useful it is forpredicting workplace behavior and the greater the level of understanding itprovides on how best to leverage each person?s capabilities. Extensive analysisof workplace situations demonstrates that three distinct factors account formuch of the variance in both job performance and job satisfaction:characteristics of the individual, characteristics of the job environment, andinteraction of the individual with his or her job description/environment/situation.

Measuring all three factors maximizes the potential forgetting the right person in the right job. That means determining whether agiven person?s personality traits mesh with the requirements of the job forwhich that person is being considered. These traits must be described inobjective, nonjudgmental language, so employers can make hiring choices thatare objective and comply with all legal requirements.

The Birkman Method has been used during the past 60 years bymore than three million people and 5,000 organizations worldwide. It uses fourcolors?blue, red, green and yellow?to represent the professional functionsneeded by every organization. Each of these four fundamental categories isvital to the overall health of the organization. Each person has some of allfour capabilities, although in differing degrees:

? Blue: Design/Strategy

? Red: Operations/Science

? Green: Marketing/Sales

? Yellow: Finance/Administration

These colors help define the distinctive strengths eachperson brings to a team and the ways each one can best contribute. Notsurprisingly, the great majority of HR professionals have an organizationalfocus color of blue, the color most commonly associated with counseling andtraining, and many will need to have some yellow if they must deal with detailsof benefits and compensation. 

Similarly, different job functions require differentpersonal characteristics. And each potential new hire will have uniquestrengths, weaknesses, productive behaviors and stress behaviors that may besimilar to or different from peers. 

Personality testing identifies and brings thosecharacteristics into focus, helping employers choose the individual best suitedfor the specific job and ultimate career paths that the organization must fill.


Sharon Birkman Fink ispresident and CEO of Birkman International, developer of The Birkman Methodleadership and team development tool.