Magazine article HRMagazine

Most Likely to Succeed

Magazine article HRMagazine

Most Likely to Succeed

Article excerpt

If past behavior is the best predictor of future results, then the newest crop of behavioral analytic tools may be an HR professional's best friend. Such assessments are helping more employers find candidates with the traits, temperament and innate talent best suited to the jobs being filled. In addition, the latest technology lets companies customize the tools using predictive data about their own top performers.

Kyle Lagunas, talent acquisition analyst at Brandon Hall Group, a human capital research and advisory firm in Delray Beach, Fla., defines behavioral assessment as "a systematic evaluation of candidate personality profiles used to gauge the viability of a candidate based on things like culture fit, work style and potential."

Traditionally, these assessments were much less common than those that measure hard skills and specific job knowledge, but that may be evolving. In a recent survey Lagunas conducted last year of 237 companies of all sizes, about half of which are in the U.S., 52 percent used skill and knowledge assessments in hiring, and 38 percent used predictive behavioral assessments.

"If you are having trouble showing ROI [return on investment] for the use of social or mobile in the recruiting process," Lagunas says, "you won't have the same problem with the behavioral assessment."

The experience of Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center Inc., a 428-room conference complex in Boston with about 600 employees, bears that out. After integrating an online application tool with a 20-minute behavioral assessment, the company reduced its already-low two-digit turnover rate to a single digit, according to T. Michael Chandler, the company's HR director. Seaport has also documented cases in which hiring managers ignored the assessment results and hired people who ultimately did not work out.

The survey tool was partly based on a model derived from the company's own data on what makes for a good fit in each of Seaport's six employment segments. An automated analysis provided a high, low or medium rating of a candidate's cultural fit for a particular job. That gave managers a starting point for evaluating applicants.

AMC Theatres saw similar success with its behavioral assessment efforts.

Growing Market

Employers in the market for assessment tools have a growing number of vendors from which to choose. As Lagunas noted in a recent blog, "2013 saw a spike in the number of candidate assessment solutions ... many of which specialize in profiling candidate personality and evaluating key performance indicators like culture fit and team fit." Consolidation has also continued with a flurry of vendor acquisitions. To name a couple: IBM recently acquired Kenexa, and Infor acquired PeopleAnswers.

Some vendors offer behavioral assessment as part of a broader talent acquisition suite, but more offer solutions that can be integrated with any acquisition technology. "This is because the best candidate assessment products are built on very complex testing technologies," Lagunas says. "We may see some more enterprise vendors scooping up candidate assessment products, but I doubt we'll see any developing their own solutions."

A Custom Fit

While behavioral tools have been around for many decades, with the famous Myers-Briggs dating back to World War II, the advantage of the current generation of tools is the way they can be tailored based on employer data from current employees who have performed well.

The amount of customization can vary, says Jonathan Ferrar, IBM's vice president of smarter workforce. IBM Kenexa has more than 1,000 assessments and a library of questions. An assessment used by two companies in the same industry might not differ in content by more than 10 percent. In other cases, especially at large companies, assessments can be highly tailored.

To create its assessment, Seaport surveyed its 600 employees and got an 87 percent response rate. The company looked at six general segments of its employee population-including housekeeping, food and beverage service, and conference planning-and developed a profile for each position. …

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