May 30th 2023
By: Nicolas Roy

Are Pre-employment Assessments Still Useful?

The labour shortage context that has been present for the past few years, and which has been greatly accelerated by the pandemic, has led organizations to review their personnel selection processes. The reason is simple: talent is rare and is no longer found where it used to be. They demand more mobility, more challenges and more professional and personal development. Combined with a growing deficit between the potential available workforce and the retirement of the baby boomers… the situation will not improve soon! The most realistic studies suggest that the phenomenon will diminish by 2036! Yes… in 15 years!

Staff Shortages = Decline in the Importance of Assessing Skills?

Quite literally, understaffing is and will continue to be one of the most important issues for business leaders and the human resources function. We must, of course, be able to revise our selection criteria in order to be able to find someone; but we still need to have criteria! Several company managers that I have the opportunity to work with often ask me the following question… why should I use pre-employment assessments when an interview is sufficient in the current context. I quickly tell them that a bad hiring decision used to be a problem and it still is now. In fact, it’s probably even worse now. Let me explain. Negative impacts on the work environment, loss of productivity, departure of high performers, increased stress levels, consequences on the organization’s reputation and loss of profit. In a context of abundant workforce, people are more easily replaceable; in a context of scarce workforce, people are much more difficult to replace. Therefore, an organization must do everything possible to ensure an optimal employee experience; that is, to ensure that employees have a sense of purpose in their work, all the resources and tools to succeed, a healthy, mobilizing, and engaging work environment and a good dose of caring! Obviously, a bad hiring decision can have a strong negative impact on these elements.

However, let’s get back to their question. To answer it and as a joke, I ask them the following questions. Would you buy a house without seeing it or inspecting it? No. Would you marry someone without knowing him or her? No. Would you give your children to a child-care facility without knowing that they would be well cared for and supervised? No. So why do it with your hires. I remind them at the same time that their success is intimately linked to the people who make up their organization, in other words, the heart. A bad heart can work but it can also quickly lead to very important problems that are sometimes very difficult to heal.

Be Considerate in Your Personnel Selection

Without questioning the fact that a well-conducted structured interview is an excellent predictor of future performance, on its own, it is incomplete. In the current context, it is more important than ever to know the person well before hiring: his or her personality, interests, motivations, skills and personal qualities. These elements will be important to mitigate the effects of the labour shortage and will help the employer to better know and understand the person and thus, to be able to activate levers that will stimulate, mobilize, motivate and especially, to ensure a good complementarity between this person and the people already in the team. Pre-employment assessments are a perfect complement to an interview and allow an organization to make an informed and caring choice. Speaking of caring, I think that selecting a person is an important element in this sense, considering that relations between colleagues are an important factor in well-being at work. And I would like to remind you that happy and committed people in the workplace give results for all employees and for company managers. So, yes! I believe in choosing a person well by using pre-employment assessments and you should too!

Nicolas Roy, CRHA, ADM.A., M.SC.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at EPSI