- By Ernest Hoffman
The phone call has reached my desk many times before. On the other side of the line is a hiring manager or HR colleague who cannot believe what their eyes are seeing; an assessment report for their A+ job candidate that looks more like a C- outcome. “How could this happen?!,” they want to know. Was it something they missed? Is the process flawed? Is the assessment flawed?
HOW DO YOU RESPOND?
If your answer is, “it depends on the situation,” you may be even more on-point than you realize. Assessing people for your open positions can sometimes yield surprising results that are based on the context, or work situation the candidate is currently in. We find this to be particularly true with our Quick ViewTM assessments, which highlight the job-related behaviors someone is putting high, moderate, or limited emphasis on at the time they complete the measure.
CURRENT CONTEXT IS A CRITICAL FACTOR TO CONSIDER FOR A VARIETY OF CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING WHEN:
- The candidate is currently in high-school, college or graduate school, which is very different from most work environments
- The candidate is transitioning careers and would be doing very different types of work in your organization than they do for their current organization
- The ingredients for success in your role are somewhat different than what the candidate is accustomed to; for instance, high volume sales versus high capital sales
- The company your candidate is coming from emphasizes and/or rewards specific types of behaviors that are not as critical to success in your company
It is possible that surprising assessment results are in fact illuminating weaknesses that have not yet been uncovered in your process and deserve more careful scrutiny. However, before you pursue that line of thinking, we suggest considering the impact of someone’s current context on the way they responded.
There are a couple of ways to do that while effectively determining the person’s suitability for the role you are looking to fill:
Put results in context
Assessments and the data they provide should never be interpreted in isolation from the other information you have. When most or all of the evidence you have for a job-related behavior point in the direction of a similar conclusion, that ought to carry more weight than a single data point, particularly when that piece of information contradicts the rest.
If a low score on Quality, for instance, surprises you, consider other indicators of low or high Quality you have observed during other aspects of the candidate’s selection process. Where additional evidence can be found in support of lower Quality, questioning a candidate’s attention to detail may be reasonable. In the absence of additional supporting evidence, it might be worthwhile to consider the position and/or company someone is currently in and how that could have affected the limited emphasis they gave to Quality as they took the assessment.
Regardless of whether the context is driving the assessment results or not, a logical next step is determining whether your candidate can adopt the characteristics effective performers need to have. That brings us to a second suggestion:
Look at context clues
Some of the behaviors we measure can be used to determine how adaptable someone will be to a new type of role or environment. Examples include Improvement, Flexibility, Organizational Awareness, and Learning Agility. A best-case scenario is someone who possesses these characteristics along with the adaptability needed to thrive as well as openness to feedback and a willingness to try different ways of doing things.
Context matters, and providing that context to stakeholders who find assessment results surprising can make all the difference for them, the person being assessed, and everyone that person’s future with the organization could affect. Make sure to keep this in mind when evaluating candidates in order to optimize assessment results and ensure you are bringing in talent that fits your organization.