Is Mediocrity All You Can Hope for in Recruitment?

HR review

Recruitment is an expensive proposition for any organisation. As well as your direct recruitment costs, you have to factor in the ‘cost’ of involving hiring managers and other operational teams in the interview process, or in running assessment centres. There’s also the expense of training a new recruit to get them up-to-speed. So can you really justify the cost of enhancing your selection process with personality, ability and situational judgment tests?

We’ve all heard the argument that using psychometric assessments in your selection process will help you to avoid bad hires. It’s true that many people who’ll apply for positions at your organisation will not be wholly suitable for the job – and some will be a ‘poor fit’ for your business. But, actually, it’s quite rare for an employer to make a really dramatic hiring mistake. Even if your selection process is less than optimal, you’ll probably be able to spot the really bad candidates – and the really good ones. The problem is that you’ll also recruit many candidates who are in the middle. In other words, the real danger of not using objective assessments in your selection process is that you’ll end up with a mediocre workforce. Yes, you’ll have a few good candidates who will stand out and get promoted. But, ultimately, there’ll be three unpleasant consequences:

  1. Average performance. Mediocre candidates will produce mediocre work. Your organisation will survive but it will never thrive to its true potential, if you miss out on the really talented candidates. The best argument for using assessments in your selection process isn’t about avoiding bad hiring decisions. It’s that assessment can help you to lift the average ‘quality of your workforce’ by 10-20 percent. That may not sound much but it will have a significant impact on the performance of your business.
  2. Cynicism. If people who are actually unsuited to the tasks required in a role manage to bluff their way into your organisation, they’ll never be fully engaged. Often, these individuals can become cynical and dismissive at work. As such, they can bring down others around them and kill any motivation in their team. If you’re lucky, these people will leave because the job was not what they expected it to be. If you’re unlucky, they’ll stay – and they’ll continue to destabilise the morale in your organisation until you terminate their contract.

  3. Early attrition. The costs of early attrition go beyond lost skills and productivity – and even beyond the costs of recruiting and training a replacement. Attrition creates business disruption, as colleagues have to increase their workload until a replacement arrives. The morale of the remaining staff can deteriorate if people are frequently leaving. If you’re constantly changing staff, the quality of the customer experience that your organisation provides can suffer. Attrition can therefore adversely affect your employer brand and your profitability.

On the other hand, if you recruit the right people, they’ll be engaged and productive – and they’ll stay with you. Not only will your recruitment costs come down, your customers will become happier and your bottom line will improve.

What Does Best Practice Look Like?

To achieve this, you have to hire people who’ll be engaged by the values of your business – and who are suited to the role. This is where psychometric assessments really help, because they can identify these people. Good assessments will also improve the efficiency of your selection process. This means that candidates are less likely to drop out of it.

The challenge then is to make each person’s job interesting and fun. Every employee wants a sense of accomplishment and they want to feel that the time they’ve spent at work has been worthwhile. Our research shows that employees are particularly engaged by the mission and values of their organisation; by feeling empowered; by having autonomy in their role and from being able to focus on the needs of customers. If you’re able to help your employees achieve these goals – and meet their expectations of work – you’ll retain them.

Alternatively, if you over-hype your employer brand and create a false expectation of what it will be like to work in your organisation, you may succeed in attracting good people but you’ll fail to retain them.

One way to ensure that job candidates join your organisation with realistic expectations of what their role will involve is to utilise a Realistic Job Preview. This is an interactive, online experience which highlights the demands of the job and your corporate culture. It enables potential applicants to make an informed choice about whether your organisation is right for them, before they apply. This helps you to fill your applicant pool with candidates who are well-matched to the role requirements and to your values. Studies show that candidates who have a better understanding of the job before they apply tend to stay longer.

So, yes, additional costs are involved when you utilise psychometric assessments and Realistic Job Previews in your recruitment. But these tools pay for themselves many times over, because you’ll recruit ‘better-than-average’ candidates who are better-suited to the role. These people are more likely to be engaged, more likely to perform better and more likely to stay longer.

Learn more about talent assessment.


About the Author

Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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