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Interviewing Success: Will You Fit the Culture?

January 3, 2019

 In part one of the Interviewing Success series, you learned: Everyone is hired as a problem-solver.

 

In part two, you learned the first thing interviewers want to determine is whether you can do the job.

 

In part three, we told you the second question the interviewer needs answered: Will you want to keep doing the job?

 

Now, we’ll discuss the third question employers need answered: Will you fit in? Or, as I like to say, “Will we all be able to work together, without driving each other crazy?”

 

 

THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION

 

The company already suspects you can do the job; otherwise they would not have invited you to the interview. During the interview, you must affirm you can do the job, and you’ll need to demonstrate your passion for the company and work---indicating you’ll want to keep doing the job.

 

But, “will you fit” is the most important of the three things the interviewers want to determine.

 

It’s so important, that according to the Aberdeen Group, 57 percent of companies use pre-hire assessments.  At Career Jam 2018, I heard that 63% of companies now perform hiring assessments.

 

This demand for assessments is growing, too. In 2018, Indeed announced Indeed Assessments, a product that includes more than 50 assessments and integrates with several applicant tracking systems.

Odds are pretty good, you’ll be tested as part of the application process.

 

 

WHY COMPANIES USE HIRING ASSESSMENTS

 

Unskilled Interviewers.

 

Most employees---including managers---aren’t trained interviewers. They rarely detect a performer---a person who excels at interviews, but isn’t really skilled at doing the actual job. They frequently don’t account for the first impression problem. That’s when interviewers---responding to subconscious cues---make up their minds at the first sight of the applicant.

 

Most interviewers conduct an interview in their own way, according to their personality. Some are direct and to the point; others are folksy Some ask a lot of questions; while others are content to let the applicant do most of the talking. This means there is no standardization in questioning, interpretation, or scoring.

 

Furthermore, studies show most people want to hire someone just like themselves. It’s only natural to like people who appear to be like us, but, studies show this leads to a lack of diversity in thought and behavior style, not to mention gender, ethnicity, and race. It leads to group think. Still, studies show “liking the applicant” is a more important factor in the hiring decision decision than the applicant’s skillset.

 

Finally, in the modern, fast-paced business world, most people are really busy; too busy to devote the time that is needed to review résumés, research the job-seeker, and compile a meaningful list of questions and desired answers. Consider how common it is to meet a hiring manager who forgot about the interview appointment or was pulled into the meeting at the last minute.

 

Combine all the above and you have a mess. No standardization of questions, desired answers, or scoring. Some companies employ hiring panels and standardized questions in an attempt to overcome some of these issues, but, all too often, the employees on the panel are still untrained at interviewing and too busy to prepare properly.

 

The Result: Interviews generally fail at answering all three questions---Can you do the job; will you want to keep doing it; do you fit in--- correctly.

 

Not Quite Truthful Applicants

 

According to studies and surveys, up to 78% of résumés contain misleading statements. 46% contain actual lies. Again, most interviewers aren’t adept at detecting these and don’t have time to perform deep research.

 

A Better Way

Given the problems we’ve described, many companies have decided to use independent assessments. These assessments, in theory, allow the employers to make more informed hiring decisions without bias, guard against lawsuits, determine the ability of potential employees to work under stressful conditions, and, even reduce the number of “problem” employees.

 

TYPES OF HIRING ASSESSMENTS

 

A job-seeker stands a good chance of encountering one of the following assessment types:

 

Skills Assessments – Determine the candidate’s clerical skills (data entry, typing), technical, programming, and competencies with software.

 

Simulations – Use everyday workplace scenarios to identify the decision-making style of a candidate

 

Case Studies – Assess a candidate’s communication, presentation, and problem-solving skills; understanding of the industry, and their ability to analyze, interpret, and leverage available data.

 

Personality Assessments –Measure personality including decision making, cognitive learning, problem solving, and service orientation.

 

In the rest of this article, we discuss personality assessments.

 

 

PERSONALITY ASSESSMENTS

 

There are dozens of personality assessments. You may have heard of some of these:
Kolbe Index; International Personality Item Pool test  (IPIP-NEO); Predictive Index; Myers-Briggs; DiSC; Smalley; Allesandro.

 

Please note: The companies that market the Myers-Briggs and DiSC products state their assessments measure preference, not personality, and should not be used for hiring purposes. But, some companies do that anyway.

 

Here’s a sample IPI-NEO question:

 

 

 

Here are two sample questions from the Predictive Index:

 

 

 

Finally, here’s a sample Kolbe Index question:

 

 

 

 

DO HIRING ASSESSMENTS WORK?

 

Studies indicate hiring assessments, including personality assessments, actually work well. Statistics and studies show the tests are valid. They accurately discern your preferences, personality, and decision-making style. But, what does this mean for the applicant?

 

 

 

CAN ONE BEAT AN ASSESSMENT?

 

You know they’re looking for something, but what? The answer is: Whatever they think they want.

 

They’ve probably decided they want a certain profile type. You don’t know for certain what that profile is. You can only guess, using the job-description and common sense as a guide.

 

For example, if it’s a sales position, they probably want an outgoing, assertive personality with a preference for interacting with people, and a desire to make a lot of money.

 

What if you think your preferences or personality isn’t what they want? Well, you could theoretically fool an assessment, but to what end? Even if you fool it, you probably wouldn’t match the culture and would be unhappy at the job.

In short, you can’t beat an assessment.

 

 

YOUR ACTION PLAN

 

Instead of trying to beat an assessment, you should do the following:

  1. Determine your personality type well in advance of any job interview.

  2. Apply to companies that match your values.

    • (Review part 2 of this Interviewing Success series to learn about values.)

  3. Apply for jobs that match your personality type.

 

To sum up, the best way to answer fit-related questions and assessments is to be honest with yourself; be honest with the interviewer, and be honest on any assessment.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ed Lawrence                       

ed-lawrence@getstart-ed.com

Natick, MA                          

508.404.8630​

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