We, at MarchFifteen, believe that the proper use of pre-hiring tools, including psychometric questionnaires, can significantly increase the accuracy and effectiveness of our clients’ selection process. Recently, the Harvard Business Review published an article in their November 2013 issue on this exact topic, addressing the value of psychometric testing before interviewing during the hiring process. Below we have posted the article in full, as well as provided a link to the article on the HBR website. Give it a read and share your thoughts with us below!
When Hiring, First Test, and Then Interview
Most companies have a standard hiring regimen: Recruiters start by reviewing résumés, move on to phone or face-to-face interviews with the most promising candidates, and then draw on various tests, often including psychometric tests, to determine which applicants are the best fit.
Our research suggests that this approach is backward. Many service companies, including retailers, call centers, and security firms, can reduce costs and make better hires by using short, web-based psychometric tests as the first screening step. Such tests efficiently weed out the least-suitable applicants, leaving a smaller, better-qualified pool to undergo the more costly personalized aspects of the process.
We have studied how a variety of industries use the Dependability and Safety Instrument (DSI), an 18-question online assessment developed by the British test publisher SHL (which employs two of this article’s coauthors). A UK energy company concerned about absenteeism gave the DSI to 136 new employees and tracked their absences over the following six months; it found that workers who scored in the highest 30% of the group were 2.3 times as likely to have perfect attendance as workers who scored in the bottom 30%. A security company gave the test to 72 drivers and learned that the bottom 30% had five times as many accidents in six months as the top 30%. Research in hotel, customer service, retail, and video outlets in Australia and Europe has yielded similar patterns.
Other tests also show great promise. For example, a large UK-based supermarket chain recently began using a customized online situational judgment test to screen out the bottom 25% of applicants before reviewing CVs. Because the candidates called in for interviews were therefore better qualified, the average number seen for each successful hire fell from six to two—saving 73,000 hours of managerial time.
Some other firms have begun using tests in this way, but the practice is still fairly uncommon: Globally, companies spend less than $750 million a year on psychometric testing. If more service firms took this approach at the start of the hiring process, they would reap a better workforce and streamline a function that consumes enormous resources.