The traditional sit-down job interview gives you some additional information about candidates, but it often results in the interviewer relying on their gut feeling alone, which can lead to inconsistent results.
Instead consider using an assessment centre comprised of several different activities that allow you to test for the skills you need and also the personality and behavioural traits that indicate whether a candidate is as good fit for your culture.
The purpose of the assessment centre is nothing less than to find those candidates who could potentially do the job just as well as your current best-performing staff.
The assessment centre framework
When we conduct assessment centres each element is custom-created for the needs of a specific client or recruitment programme. There is however a basic framework which includes group activities, roleplay sessions, and a one-to-one interview.
To remove any danger of personal (if unconscious) bias on behalf of an assessor influencing the decision of whether to hire or not, each stage of the assessment centre is conducted by a different assessor. While you will be running this process yourself if you do not use an agency, we do suggest you take part if you do use an agency. Doing so eliminates the need for candidates to have a final one-on-one interview with the client and means we can proceed that much more quickly to sending out job offers.
Remember candidates may have other jobs, or other job offers, and it’s only fair to give them a yes or no within a few days of the assessment centre. If possible, we like to let candidates know the very same day.
How the assessment centre works
An experienced assessor will not jump to immediate conclusions about anyone, but instead give them the opportunity to impress. Assessors will also hold it in their minds that it is not the likability of the individuals in the group being assessed, but rather their ‘hireability’ against a well-defined set of criteria for the job at hand.
In addition to the three formal sessions that make up the assessment centre, candidates will also be assessed on how they act and interact during informal transitional activities such as in the waiting area or during coffee breaks. How a candidate acts ‘naturally’ gives a good indication of their true character. When it comes to recruiting for culture that is one of the strongest indicators of whether someone is a good fit or not.
Our own assessment centre includes rooms for one-on-one interview, computer rooms to conduct questionnaire-based assessments, break out areas for breaks, and larger rooms for group sessions and roleplays.
Each session is designed to assess whether the candidates display the specific behaviour and personality traits that have been identified as desireable. Questions, whether oral or by questionnaire, are written to identify these traits.
When it comes to psych profiling we can run the assessments on your best performing staff and benchmark their performance against those of the candidates. There are no objective right or wrong responses to any of these tests, there are only responses that correspond to the traits you are looking for, and those that do not.
A decision-making framework
At the end of the assessment centre our assessors meet and discuss each candidate. Ideally this will be done on the same day or day after and will include the client. For this reason we do encourage clients to attend all assessment centres. If you do not use an agency and instead run your own assessment centres, you should consider inviting members of the team that will directly manage the new recruits to take part in the process alongside your dedicated recruitment and HR staff.
We call this part of the process integration as it is here that we bring together everybody’s opinion of each candidate. Essentially all the assessors gather round and each candidate’s details – CV, LinkedIn profile, scoresheets, interview response questions, psychometric test results – are put up on screen.
At this point we can apply weighting to the scores depending on what elements of the tests the client believes to be more relevant to the role. As different sessions will have been conducted by different staff to eliminate bias, it’s also important at this point to weight scores to ensure consistency across all assessors. For example, if you know that one of your assessors always marks 10% lower than everyone else you can compensate for this.
While we try to make the subjective as objective as possible there is no formal process that is going to arrive at the right answer every time. Gut instinct will always play some role in recruitment but should not be relied upon alone. Test scores should hopefully validate your instincts but do not be afraid to let your feelings overrule quantitative scores.soon.