testing new hires

The Case for Testing Your Company’s Potential New Hires

The following is adapted from “Fireproof” by Mike Morse

Not many people enjoy taking tests when applying for a new job. They aren’t used to it, and assessments, whether for IQ, behavioral tendencies, cognitive skills, or more, are time consuming and stressful. On the other side, many firms avoid giving tests to potential new hires for fear of discrimination accusations, cost or doubts about usefulness.

However, if your firm can overcome the aversions you might have to testing job candidates, you’ll find that they can reveal a wealth of information that lets you make more informed decisions about the people you hire. Without this extra information, you might make the mistake of hiring someone who doesn’t fit with your company culture or lacks the skills you need.

To avoid these mistakes, you should employ a variety of tests as a fundamental part of your hiring process. To get you started, I’ll make the case for why you should test new hires, despite the reservations candidates, coworkers, and your fellow leaders may have about them.

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What tests reveal about job candidates

In my decades of experience running a successful law firm, I’ve found that making personality and cognitive tests a key part of our hiring process gives us incredible insights into how candidates will think, behave and solve problems on the job.

Since we started using assessments, our success rate for finding excellent job candidates has doubled. What do these tests reveal that make them so worthwhile?

Testing helps you understand someone—how they work and how to best communicate with them. What’s their native skill? What distracts or annoys them? Are they great talkers?

You can then use what you learn to:

  1. Make sure you have a need for their skills; and
  2. Make sure you apply those skills to your firm’s fullest advantage.

For example, if a candidate is highly personable, they might be best for screening calls and evaluating a potential client’s claim. If tests reveal they’re thoughtful and detail-oriented, you can have them help clients write answers to interrogatories. Tests show you a person’s strengths so you can match them with your needs.

Overcoming obstacles to testing

More information about candidates is great, but like I mentioned, people don’t like taking tests. Furthermore, you might have reservations about giving them. How can you overcome these obstacles?

First, explaining the purpose of testing to candidates can help them get over their discomfort. Make sure they understand that testing benefits you both by revealing whether they’re a good match for your firm, and if they are, by showing you how to best accommodate them.

For example, if a test revealed that a new hire is introverted, I would make an effort to ask for their opinion in meetings to ensure their great ideas are heard.

If the hesitations are on your end, whether you’re concerned about potential discrimination, prolonging the hiring process, or even cheating, the solution is quite simple: hire experts to administer your tests. If you find a reputable testing company to partner with, they’ll ensure that everything is conducted legally and in a way that gets the best, most accurate results.

Which tests to perform

Last comes the practical question of which tests to perform. At my law firm, we use, or are considering using, a variety of personality and intelligence tests including:

  • CBI test: CBI stands for Counterproductive Behavior Index, and it helps identify job candidates who may have questionable behaviors, attitudes and values. It helps ferret out applicants who are likely to steal from your company, show up late or not at all, or use company time to shop online or surf the internet.
  • Enneagram: The Enneagram Institute says their tests identify which of nine Enneagram types a person is. The options range from the Reformer (idealistic, principled) to the Investigator (intense, cerebral, innovative).
  • Wechsler test: The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, or WAIS, provides a general IQ score.
  • Kolbe index: The Kolbe test reveals a person’s instincts and “method of operation.” It doesn’t measure personality, intelligence or social style, but will spotlight a person’s natural abilities and preferences.

Each of these tests can give you valuable insights about your candidates’ strengths and weaknesses to help you make more informed hiring decisions.

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Make testing a fundamental part of your hiring process

It’s too easy to be fooled by mediocre people with fancy résumés and smooth-talking interview skills, but tests help cut through the illusion. With a wide variety of assessments to choose from, you can perform tests that identify exactly the skills your firm needs.

Remember, you might encounter resistance from candidates—don’t concede. If you make testing a core part of your process, like my firm has, you should be willing to pass people up if they refuse to participate.

You want to hire people who aren’t afraid to look at themselves with scrutiny. Truly talented people will want to reveal aspects of their skills and personality, and tests are an effective, objective way to make it happen.

“Fireproof” is now available for purchase and can be purchased via StartupNation.com.

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