The hiring process is not only the most important but perhaps the most complex process your business, big or small, will ever go through. Getting it right is imperative. There are many methods used in the assessment of employment candidates and understanding the different methods as well as how effective they are in predicting the suitability of a job candidate is the purpose of this article.

The scores given the various methods highlighted in this article are taken from a 2000 publication which is available here The scores are percentage points.

Work samples (0.54) and Ability tests (0.54)

Work sampling and ability tests are simply the best. Work sampling involves going through previous works done by the candidate or asking them to create something similar to what they will be required to do on the job. While this the most ideal way to test a candidate it’s not suitable for all roles as some are multifaceted. This is where ability tests come in. They assess the ability of a candidate to carry out specific tasks that are key within the job role. Both these methods scored 54% in ability to choose the right candidate for the job going forward.

Structured interviews (0.44)

Structured interviews are those performed by suitably qualified individuals or panels. In the structured interview the questions asked of the interview are preplanned and are aimed at assessing matters to do with the job role. It does allow for follow up questions to enable interviewers to probe the candidate and gain a deeper understanding. The candidate is assigned scores based on how well they answered each question and the scores are tallied to provide an overall mark.

Psychometric  tests (0.38)

Psychometric testing is a broad field that covers the testing of personality, ability and aptitude. Popular psychometric tests are the IQ test, the 16 personalities and DISC among a host of others (try them out if you haven’t). There’s a misconception that these tests measure how smart a person is. While that is an aspect that some like IQ touch on, the tests measure how we think, learn and approach things. It is interesting to know that creator of the IQ test intended for it to be used to divine how different students learn individually so as to aid their teachers to help struggling students.

A well defined job should come with a profile of the ideal candidate in terms of the personality, ability and attitude. Psychometric tests are used to reveal based these attributes a candidates suitability for a role. In addition they can be used to measure cultural fit in an Organisation. The trouble with psychometric tests is they are only as good as your profile is accurate.

Unstructured interviews (0.33)

The unstructured interview differs from the structured in the lack of prearranged questions and defined scoring system for candidates but is none the less an effective interview. The setting may still be very formal but questions do not have the same approach as the structured interview. This process relies more on assessing the candidate on the situation. It’s common practice to have dual interviews and perhaps these interviews can be split between the two methods. Another popular practice is group interviewing and this can be Avery appropriate setting to use the unstructured interviewing approach.

References (0.13)

References provide some information on a candidate and how they have performed in the past. It’s unsurprising though that references have proven the least effective method of assessing candidates ability to perform in a role. There’s a few factors behind this. References are only valid within context; the referee provides information based on the candidate in their context not yours. Referees also tend to present a bias with candidates naturally choosing to provide good references over not so good ones. Also referees may not always be who you think they are.

The smart money should always go with a mix of these methods, all of them if possible. Sometimes of course we work in an environment with constraints and we cannot always afford the time and resources to explore all the options. That said the one thing you absolutely cannot afford is to have the wrong people in your business or to waste time and money on incorrect hires.