| Advantage Tech Inc.
HR Services, Career Transition, and Executive Coaching since 1980
To continue to be effective, your organization must hire and promote people who will excel in the roles that are required. To ensure that you select the best available candidate, you need sufficient information to establish both suitability and potential. There are three useful sources, like the three sides of a triangle. Just as triangles make the strongest frames in an engineering sense, this triangle provides a strong framework for hiring and developing people.
The first side is your personal experience with the candidate. It is important to rely in part on your own sense of an individual. As the hiring manager who must work with the individual for possibly several years, you need to know that you and the candidate can develop a positive working relationship. You need not be close, but there must be some assurance that your relationship will be cordial. It is equally important to have some assurance from your own experience that the candidate is capable of learning the role with reasonable speed, and performing well in it.
With references, and interview data from other people, you gain a different perspective of the candidate from your own, and this provides the second side. This information allows confirmation of the data you have collected, and provides greater insight. At the same time, some of that information has been collected in the same way you obtained yours, and is thus subject to the same possible biases. For example, some people interview more effectively than do others, and some of those can give others a much more positive impression of themselves than might actually be warranted. Reference data are usually obtained from people you do not know, and it can be difficult to verify the accuracy and relevance of what you are being told. Skilled interviewers (such as those employed by search firms) using sophisticated techniques can significantly reduce the uncertain nature of reference and interview data, but they cannot eliminate it.
The third side of this triangle is Psychological Assessment. It is the only one that will provide objective information about an individual candidate. The results of assessment are typically reported relative to known groups of people. Your interview information may give you an impression of the candidate, and you can compare that information with other people you know or have interviewed. Psychological instruments are developed in ways that provide comparison not with a few people, but with thousands. This ensures that you receive both valid and reliable information about a candidate.
Of equal importance is the fact that this is the only way to gain precise information about individual abilities. Cognitive ability, problem-solving skill, and the ability to understand and work with emotions in oneself and others are but three kinds of capabilities that can be evaluated. How often have you seen someone who presented very well in the interview, and seemed very capable, but who proved unable to learn new methods or solve important problems? Reliable measures of cognitive and problem-solving abilities prevent those mis-hires.
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