Assessment, recruiting, personnel selection – do I have to use tests do do it right?

by Harald Ackerschott, posted Jul 06, 2018

Aptitude diagnostics supported by psychological testing procedures, online assessments or technologically even hipper procedures are a topic that has recently received exactly the attention it deserves.

Assessments of new hires are among the most important decisions made in an organization.

But I am often asked: „Do I have to introduce tests now?“ „Can I only make good decisions with based on psychometric testing?“

We run an online test ourselves, but I know well, not everyone always has to use our industries products. I only have customers for whom we really create added value. Our tests are not a commodity, they bring a real competitive advantage! Our selection methods create value and shape cultures.

But clearly: You can also make good personnel decisions without tests.

Some time ago I got my hands on the „Work Hack“ collection from Sipgate, which contains a very nice description of how to set up a process that does not use tests and this process for the selection of new colleagues was pretty convincing:

The team that needs a new colleague makes the decision!
It sifts documents and does interviews itself. The team, not a manager!

On the level, where the work is done, there is also the know-how, which is needed. So far so good, sounds quite friendly.

And then it gets really serious:
The trial period is used consciously and actively to check the performance. Several meetings are held at defined intervals in order to follow and document developments. Towards the end of the probationary period it is decided again, quite consciously and in the same team, whether the newcomer really makes a significant contribution for the common goals.

And here are the consequences:
If the decision to hire shows to be wrong from the point of view after the probationary period, it will be corrected and the conversation to separate from the new hire will be conducted by a member from exactly the team that had decided to hire.

This approach convinces me!

All involved in this process experience a complete learning cycle from information collection and processing, decision, monitoring of the effects of the decision to the confirmation or correction.

In this way, each of them can gain concrete experience, recognize their mistakes, take responsibility for their mistakes (i.e. conduct the separation talks) and learn from their experience in aptitude diagnostics and personnel selection.

Information in passing for insiders in this area: This procedure is also fully compliant with the German quality standard for aptitude diagnostics, the DIN 33430.

Thank you all at Sipgate, good approach!

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1 Comment to "Assessment, recruiting, personnel selection – do I have to use tests do do it right?"

  1. Harald Ackerschott shared another commentary wrote:

    An estimated colleague commented on the german version of this post. I would not want to hide it from only english speaking visitors to our site.
    Roland Kreuscher wrote:

    Dear colleague Ackerschott,

    this blog entry of yours is pretty surprising, at least for me. I have to react – even with delay. I’m sorry that this is so detailed. (Honestly? No, I’m not sorry. Some explanation can be found at the end of the 4th, 6th paragraph ff.). Reading time from now on: 6-8 minutes.

    Well, surely nobody „has to“ use tests „unconditionally“ when filling vacancies. Sure.
    Like nobody „absolutely“ „has to“ get on a plane if she wants to travel from, say, Ulan Bator to Timbuktu. If everything goes well(!), she can also arrive in Southern Sahara in a different and healthy way. It lasts much longer, therefore it costs a lot more and can only be repeated at a much lower frequency. Nor does anyone „absolutely“ „have to“ use current transport systems that have been developed and proven over many years, if, let’s say, they want to, let’s say, transport many delicious Chirimoyas from their plantation on the southern Spanish Costa Tropical, to lets say sell them in the market at Rotenburg an der Wümme. If she doesn’t know about the mentioned transport systems and/or doesn’t want to know about them, she and her team could moderate out in open-space meetings (seances?) with a lot of „aha“ experiences and mutual appreciation moments: The team carves and glues sledges from old, no longer needed trees, loads and secures as many Chirimoyas as possible on them; also with self-made „systems“. And then they pull the cargo to northern Germany. Where until then a lot of fruit from other producers arrives, is sold and eaten. Everyone in the team will experience many valuable learning cycles on the approx. 2.000 miles. How enviable. Perhaps even with the result of inventing the wheel next time …

    But the wheel already exists; just like the sledges before. In an unbelievable number of versions for an unbelievable number of requirements. You don’t have to invent or rebuild it anymore. At least the latter will rarely be more advantageous than using already invented/built wheels. The time that is spent on „reinventing“ and „bringing a probably sub-optimal wheel into trouble-free running“ should be better used for what you actually want to do/have to do and hopefully can do; e.g. produce and sell as many tasty and healthy Chirimoyas as possible in, say, Rotenburg a. d. Wümme.

    Or, at Sipgate for example, you shouldn’t waste the time to rebuild suitability diagnostics „on runners instead of on wheels with motor“ and on a book about it. The responsibility you, Mr. Ackerschott, have so emphasized for Sipgate, the responsibility for the hiring decision and, if necessary, for the firings well, is really nothing new, and could also be realized by carrying out valid tests in this way; for at least 30 years. Sipgate has not discovered anything new in this respect. The fact that too many other companies rarely go without even this much of responsibility and learning does not change anything. Surely the time of Sipgate would be better used in the most effective, targeted, individual recruitment of rare (potential!) talents, if one really needs the ‚rare seeded‘ and for which there are still no standardized and lastingly valid method packages. Sipgate would also benefit considerably more from (time) investments in further optimising its telecommunication products and services, which would make the working days of its „lay“ and professional customers even more productive and efficient. All the more so if the time that should be left goes into order and customer acquisition. If there is still time left to improve internal communication from person to person, including internal processes and the well-being of „all“ stakeholders and shareholders, then this should be done. Sipgate may already be very good at this. If you still have time left, then people should rather spend time off the job rather than write books by laymen for laymen – on the basis of very „thin“, 6-year experience. For readers who, like presumably Sipgate, have no desire to concern themselves with the many, often reviewed, actually practically relevant findings about which one can learn, among other things, in often reviewed literature. So, if someone would have had desire to investigate and sufficiently understand, what is available for at least 120 years as e.g. your book about the DIN 33430 on assessment, Mr. Ackerschott. For whom this evidence is nothing, for whom IT-typical „hacks“ are attractive, which are used to avoid digging real deep for sustainable and effective solutions, these WorkHacks are probably the right thing. Just like students who prefer to prepare for exams with keyword-like faulty scripts of their close fellow students (peers!) rather than acquiring sound knowledge by using textbooks from authors or asking professors whom they (want to) perceive as distant and diffcult to approach.

    Perhaps similar to students who prefer to prepare for exams with keyword-like and erroneous scripts from their close peers rather than really supporting knowledge building with writings/presentations, including textbooks, from authors who (want to) experience them as remotely unfamiliar.

    So when asked whether tests really have to be used, a true expert, who you, Mr. Ackerschott, undoubtedly are, should react with (analogously):
    „The serious answer to this question is not ’simply yes‘ and certainly not ’simply no‘. Take your time for a minute!
    If the answer to this would be ‚OK, I’ll take some time to listen‘ the response to this would be (analogously) – in a rudimentary beginner version:
    „If a truly valid aptitude test is required, which is the case with the vast majority of real-life vacancies, and which can be found relatively easily and reliably, then tests should be used which are actually valid for the relevant areas, which are valued by candidates and whose application usually pays off very well. Other methods are generally less valid, usually considerably less or not at all – at least before they are applied concretely and (!) properly evaluated(!). And almost always they are clearly less efficient; and therefore usually also more expensive than tests, if one calculates correctly. These expensive, non-valid procedures can be used if no valid tests can actually be used and or, if – after tests – further suitability must actually be diagnosed and the effort required for this cannot actually be invested in training & development of the (new) employees. But this is rarely the case, and it is also relatively easy and safe to find out.“

    Anyone who, after this serious initial answer and a „motivating“ question, is not interested in specifying the terms ‚actually valid‘, ‚relevant areas‘, ‚efficient‘ and ‚calculate correctly‘, among other things, and who does not have any further questions within 2-3 weeks after the initial answer, and does still not want to find out what is really going on and does not want to invest another 7-17 minutes for learning about such an important issue – one would then still be far away from striving for exceptional assessment-expertise – such a person probably doesn’t hear the shots that come with every staffing, and he/she will probably continue as before or will try Hacks&Tricks, maybe from „“ …

    No, you don’t always have to „pick people up where they stand“. Depending on where they have to go(!), they have to go where it makes sense to pick them up. And it wouldn’t make sense anymore if the pick-up would consume the resources you need for safe transport to the actual destination.

    I am still convinced that you are aware of all this. As you run an assessment platform yourself and have developed the ABCi test. So it remains unclear to me why or for what purpose you posted this blog.

    Either way, best regards and all the best to you or the future

    Roland Kreuscher, Munich, Germany
    – Psychology Transfer
    – BRSI Industry Representative – Psychology

    Post translated by DeepL

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