I’m asked quite regularly my opinion on the viability of an assessment methodology known as ’employee profiling’, which is quite commonly used to assist organisations in making sound hiring decisions.
These methods are neither correct nor incorrect and it’s difficult to provide a definitive answer to this question, but rather their degree of effectiveness and relevance depends entirely on the individual circumstance.
To assist you in making the right decision for your organisation I will outline below both the pros and cons to profiling and how it can be used effectively.
How profiling assessments methodologies are conducted?
- A selection of an organisations high-performing employees are chosen and given the opportunity to take an assessment that is designed to measure a number of characteristics related to performance. Regardless of the role, the content is usually the same. The score patterns then serve as a benchmark for hiring.
- During the hiring process, candidates are required to sit the same test and the results are then benchmarked against the current high performers. Those applicants who most closely match the ideal profile are viewed as having the best chance of success and are recommended for hire in an effort to “clone” high performers.
Logically, applicants scoring the same as ‘high performers’ have more in common indicating that they too have what it takes to be a high performer.
What are Pros and Cons of this Methodology?
Let’s start with the pros:
- Intuitive: The idea behind profiling makes sense. Look at your best performers and develop a profile that can be used to make sure you hire staff who model success. SIMPLE?!
- Fast: While many assessment methods are timely to implement, profiling can usually be implemented relatively quickly and reused across multiple opportunities.
In the IT space I have seen this work really well when a profile assessment has been specifically created for role, like Project Managers.
One of the downsides to using a strict Profile Assessment Methodology is that across different roles i.e. Business Analysts, Project Managers, Web Developers, and Solution Architects, they all share different characteristics, that in their own right make them high performers in their specific field. I’ve touched base on a few other cons below:
- Deficiency: When only one assessment is used for all situations, organisations may find that the content of this assessment will not fully capture all of the things required for performing the specific role.
- Failure to account for change: This is a big downside as it does not account for the fact that the top performers surveyed may have had a different job profile at the time of hire.
- In many cases, job performance and on-the-job training may allow an individual to learn and develop in many positive ways. Thus, the profile provided may be an unrealistic one for staff who have not performed the job in question.
- Over-reliance on “the profile”: as this may create unrealistic standards that can lead to an over-reliance on some attributes and under-reliance on others. Hiring decisions should be the result of balanced information of many types, and the best hiring systems are designed to provide key decision-makers with a variety of information.
The above criticisms can apply to other assessment methods. However, they are worth considering when evaluating the relevance of profiling methods for an organisation’s needs.
Below I have mentioned a few situations where profiling is an ideal methodology for a company to use;
- An off-the-shelf assessment is needed quickly: Profiling is one of the fastest and easiest assessment methods to implement.
- The role is mainstream and doesn’t have any specific requirements: Most profiling uses one set of content for all jobs means that the profiling assessment content will be relevant.
- The organisation is too small or there are too few incumbents to do a proper validation study: Validation research requires relatively large numbers of incumbents to produce a more accurate result.
From my experience the decision regarding the relevance of profiling for a company’s needs comes down to speed vs. accuracy. In such situations, speed and financial expense are often the key decision criteria and a reduction in accuracy is accepted as a result.
In these cases, profiling is a legitimate option and one that will still provide more accuracy than using no assessment or simply using an unstructured interview.
I hope this is helpful, and gives you a better understanding of the pros and cons that need to be considered when choosing the right assessment tool for your recruitment process.
For further information or to discuss please contact me on email@example.com or 07 3230 0037
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