Good Employee Selection Intentions Gone Bad

Creative thinking is critical when starting a business.  While the bank might want the entrepreneur to have a business plan, marketing strategy, etc., a lot of the early management goes by the seat of the pants.  There are not tried and true methods for the business, so it is interesting to see what they come up with.  However, it’s also true that they don’t spend the time to find the best practices, so the processes can duplicative or expensive.  A hiring example of this can be found here.

This company starts their evaluations with e-mail interactions.  It’s interesting that they are concerned with responsiveness.  Does that mean they want the most desperate candidates or the most conscientious ones?  I was curious as to how much time they spend analyzing (their word) the e-mails.

Next comes the phone screen.  As with most evaluations like this, they are to get a sense of the candidate’s communication skills.  However, I wouldn’t want to be in front of a jury in a race discrimination case trying to defend what I meant by “articulate.”

The following step is three to five separate interviews that last from 30 to 60 minutes.  This is absolutely ridiculous.  Dragging a candidate in that many times (or for that long) is disrespectful.  It’s also a huge waste of resources for the company.  Why not just one panel interview?  That way, everyone hears the same answer to the same question.  It’s a much more objective and valid way to evaluate a candidate.

The last two parts of the process are what they call a case study and spending a day on the job.  In the abstract, this is the best part of their selection system in that they can measure a person’s skills and abilities in a realistic environment.  Think of it as a floral assessment center.  In reality, the better description is that they are stealing (yes, that’s the word for taking something from someone without compensation) ideas and time from their job candidates.  Even more galling is that they ask the candidate to sign an NDA to protect the company.  How about signing a contract where you pay fair wages for the work your job candidates are doing for you?  The crime here is that they could design a work sample or assessment center that would be more objective and valid and not be as exploitative.

The company is making a sincere and creative effort to screen people the best they can.  And, despite how misguided some of the activities are, they understand that there are differences between candidates and are looking for ways for the best ones to separate the most qualified ones from the others.  They just need to realize that they need to hire or contract out to someone as qualified in the selection field as they are in the e-commerce business.

What are some of the most creative selection systems you’ve seen in start-ups?   What worked and what didn’t?

For more information on pre-employment testing, skills assessment, and talent management, please contact Warren at 310 670-4175 or

Greedy Recruiting

I’m not an economist (nor do I play one on TV), but reading the economic data, it is hard not to conclude that hiring is at least slightly on the rise.  Given that we are still pulling out of a recession and high unemployment, the talent pool is as good as it’s been in in a long time.  This also means it is a buyer’s market for those employers who are hiring.  How are some employers responding to this?  According to this article (summarized and elaborated on by the New York Times here), by becoming jerks about the process.

Employers, of course, should screen candidates carefully and with so much talent available (and still some uncertainty about the economy) they shouldn’t rush.  But, having someone go through seven or eight interviews is a joke.  What does the company think they are going to learn from the additional one?  From an ROI perspective, is that interview really worth the manager’s time (besides letting him/her know s/he was “involved” in the process)?

When I read that companies have people jump through that many hoops and return for so many interviews, it tells me that they don’t have a strategy (or good tactics) for evaluating talent.  If it takes an HR department that long to identify talent when there’s so much of it, how are they going to find it when unemployment really goes down (which it will)?  For companies that are getting ready to increase headcount, this should be the time when HR is honing its talent acquisition process to be more nimble when it counts.

It’s also critical to remember that your selection process is part of your company’s brand.  You’re not going to hire everyone who applies for one of your positions.  Applicants are also your potential customers and referral sources for other applicants.  The least you can do is have them participate in a process they feel is fair and respectful.  Having someone come back for lots of interviews and then not filling the position is not going to make you any friends.

Right now is the time for those involved in recruiting and selection to demonstrate their worth.  There is a lot of talent in the applicant pool now.  Make and execute an efficient process to identify, evaluate, and hire what is out there.  This will show senior management how your role is valuable to the company.

For more information on pre-employment testing, skills assessment, and talent management, please contact Warren at 310 670-4175 or

Talking About Selecting the Right People for the Right Jobs

I was recently interviewed by David Hadobas of CCNG about using validation selection for hiring.  Specifically, we talked about using tests to correctly place people based on their abilities in call centers.  But, we talked about managerial selection as well.

Give it a listen at

For more information on pre-employment testing, test validation, skills assessment, and talent management, please contact Warren at 310 670-4175 or

Thanks for coming by!

Please provide this information so we can stay in touch.