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This is the third in a series focusing on individual assessments. 

First and foremost, we wanted to describe what an individual assessment is.  It is not an executive search although sometimes we work with a search firm who finds and does initial screening of candidates.

We get involved at a point where the final three to five candidates have been determined. We also wanted readers to understand that individual assessments are more sophisticated than a general interview, particularly a “rudderless” interview where the person is asked that common question, “Tell me a little more about yourself.”  Our description of what we do in individual assessments is to assist companies in making “People decisions driven by science.”

What the heck is that?

I indicated in the other articles of this series that two issues that affect individual assessments are: time and cost. Senior assessments are more expensive than assessments done at other levels. These typically deal with Director, Vice- President, C-Level, President or CEO positions. These are big, complicated jobs that require you to collect and analyze significant amounts of information.

Candidates at this level are accustomed to one-on-one personal interactions versus contact through questionnaires and e-mail. This makes these assessments more labor intensive.

Senior-level assessments, like assessments at other levels, require collecting information about the position and each of the individual candidates.

First, let’s look at the job side of the equation. Like entry-level assessments, we use a job analysis questionnaire, which is sent to people with firsthand knowledge of the position. This could be the supervisor, peers, direct reports or a former job incumbent.

In addition, at this level, we conduct a 20-30-minute job analysis interview with the supervisor of the position and/or HR business partner. We are trying to understand the unique challenges in the role – things that would cause a person to fail in this position, as well as key attributes that lead to success. We ask the supervisor of the position to rate on a scale of 1-10, certain key job challenges.  We will come back and collect data from the job candidates in this area when we do their structured interview.

So, the job analysis questionnaire gives us a quantitative understanding of the job challenges. This will help us establish best-fit ranges for the position. We also collect qualitative and quantitative information from the boss about the job that we will explore in the candidate interviews.

Similar to the other assessments, we collect test data on each of the candidates. The three areas of testing are: Critical Thinking, Personality, and Learning Agility.

The critical thinking measure lets us know whether the candidates can handle the intellectual challenges of the position. The personality measure helps us understand each of the candidates and their temperament and how they as people will mesh with the job demands.  The learning agility measure will give us an idea of the candidate’s repertoire of capabilities for dealing with the unknown. Can we put them in situations outside their comfort zone and will they be able to figure out what to do?

All three of these measures have major scales, as well as sub-scales or components. The point at which the assessor reviews the candidate report with HR and the hiring manager is the time these sub-scales would be used to further characterize the candidate’s fit with the position.

A structured interview is a key piece of data that is collected on the “person” side of the equation in the assessments. Structured interviews are done in all our senior level assessments. The more senior the position, the more comprehensive the interview, but interviews typically last one to two hours.

There are eight competencies for which we normally will collect specific examples. The organization usually chooses which competencies to use during the interview.  The competencies often come from E·A·S·I-Consult’s® model which is organized around four domains: 1) Cognitive; 2) Motivational; 3) Emotional; and 4) Interpersonal. We strongly encourage an organization to select at least one competency from each domain.

In the final report, a chart is produced for each of the competencies indicating whether the candidate’s response: 1) was below expectations; 2) met expectations; or 3) exceeded expectations.

All the information collected on the candidates is then summarized in a written report. Each report can be customized for an organization and is typically 10-15 pages long. It includes an overall summary, which describes strengths and issues that would need to be managed. There is also a chart showing best-fit ranges – comparing the candidates’ information against the job requirements from the job analysis questionnaire.

There is a summary profile of the candidate against the position competency requirements, as well as a summary chart of the candidate’s personality and how that fits with the job demands. There is a summary profile of the candidate’s learning agility capabilities.  There are additional pages which are “back-up” information supporting the information previously described. We offer, outside the standard assessment, the option for developmental recommendations and action planning.

A discussion of a candidate’s report with the hiring manager, HR and the assessor takes about an hour. Meetings are done in-person or virtually. Initially, the assessor will go over the results and potential implications, if the person was to be offered the position. The meeting then shifts into a general discussion of the candidate and a deeper understanding of the data and its implications.

In most cases, all the finalist candidates are discussed in one session, back to back. By the end of the meeting, the hiring manager has next steps, which generally include the candidate to whom they intend to extend an offer.

David Hoff is the chief operation officer and executive vice president for leadership development at E·A·S·I-Consult®. E·A·S·I-Consult works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions. E·A·S·I-Consult specialties include individual assessment, online employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about E·A·S·I-Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email ContactUs@easiconsult.com or call 800.922.EASI.