Psychometrics: how not to fit square pegs (employees) in round holes (jobs)

Businesses of all stripes spend gobs of money every year in trying to get a read on their consumers using a range of pyschometric tests that seek to assess customer satisfaction, perception and attitudes via psycho-graphic and demographic profiling among others; all with the ultimate goal of improving the bottom line. What does not get nearly as much attention or resources but, nevertheless, is equally important to success is the sizing up of employees, current and potential, with a view to enhancing satisfaction  and productivity.

The July issue of London based Training Journal has a lead article that provides a rubric to work with. Entitled "How to recruit people who fit" the essay urges a fresh look at the way people are hired with a view to reducing the "risk of 'good' staff leaving too soon, or not performing to their optimum". Compounding the "problem" is Gen Y's inability to "sit-out" a job that does not fit resulting in high turnover and training costs along with lower productivity.  The author identifies "hiring in one's likeness;  the immediate need for an individual to fulfil a specific role within the team and the strong temptation to recruit on personality as aspects of the recruitment process that can distract managers from making good hiring decisions".

Training Journal's lead piece goes on to lay out a comprehensive framework for recruitment. Starting with defining an organization's "culture" through its "values, beliefs and behaviors" it then turns to the "key elements that make up the recruitment process". These include "the attraction" or how the company presents itself. That will indicate the cultural norms, whether  on the website, in job adverts or at recruitment fairs. Next up is "competency-based interviewing" an approach that provides the recruiter with fact-based information about skills, knowledge and behaviors of the candidate in  past situations and how it was applied along with technical abilities. Pscyhometric testing or assessments provide a strong basis to gauge a candidate's abilities and how s/he interacts with others.

Training the recruiter is pivotal to achieving much of the above. The manager should understand the firm's "competency framework" or aspects required by the company to be successful in the organisation and have "interview-skills" training. This includes understanding pyschometric tests administered to prospects. Involving line managers in the development of the skills tests that are administered is also essential. No less important is understanding the company's "big picture" or the overall organizational perspective.

 That significant parts of the world's economy remain mired in a jobs recession makes such employee-employer assessements even more relevant. An interesting if extreme example of a patently disconnected and failed hiring process is what prevailed at the newly builit Hilton hotel in Windhoek, Namibia where a raft of complaints alleging unfair firings a mere three months after opening has resulted not only in a disgruntled work force but  a media glare that likely will do nothing to improve the bottom line.  The hotel probably would have had fewer employee issues had it paid heed to well known writer and business communications specialist, Gini Graham Scott's observation "you can't fit a square peg in a round hole. If your boss is like that round hole and you are that square peg, you aren't going to fit in unless you re-shape your edges."




    Published by

    Vijay Dandapani

    Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.