Psychological testing

Psychological testingPersonal assessments

   Executive Summary

Personal style testing and interviewing helps executives reduce surprises when hiring key people. Our structured approach to candidate assessment can help tell you how well a person may fit in your company and can help you see if the candidate has sufficient talent to grow in your organization. Assessments are used in succession planning, employee screening, pre-employment decisions, and employee counseling situations. From a purely financial view, if a combination of testing and disciplined interviewing can prevent you from making one bad hire, it probably saves you tens of thousands of dollars. From an organizational perspective, there is no better growth strategy than using every tool available to hire and develop the best people. Let Dr. Lakin help you by providing testing and interviewing services for your business needs.

Which candidate fits the job and my company best? Is the candidate smart enough for the job? Is there talent to grow? Does the candidate have enough "emotional intelligence" to work effectively as a manager? Which development direction is best for my manager? Is she ready to promote? I have a problem person--can his behavior problem be solved?

For more than 50 years, psychologists have helped executives and managers answer these questions about their people. Some call it psychological assessment. Some call it psychological profiling. Some even call it "getting shrunk." No matter what you call it, personal style assessment helps you to know more about the people you want to hire, promote, coach, or counsel.

How is assessment used in business today?

Since every executive wants the best people possible, it should not be surprising that many companies use psychologists to assess people and teams. Recently (2015), Time Magazine and Harvard Business Review has found a large percentage of companies have adapted pre-hire testing as standard procedure. We are usually asked to do personal assessment and interviewing in the following situations:
  • Inventory a company's management talent and potential
  • Identify high-potential individuals for development opportunities
  • Look at an individual's readiness for promotion
  • Design individual development plans based on identified strengths and weaknesses
  • Assess possible reasons for poor performance and provide guidance

Typically, a company first uses profiling to help hire or promote key people. They want to know if a candidate fits the organization and the position in question. Many companies establish a policy to have an outside professional see all final candidates for a position above a specific salary level or grade. Such a policy ensures quality control in the hiring and promotion process throughout the company. Having an objective and professional common denominator in the hiring process is valuable, because the variability of interview skill effectiveness across managers is enormous.

Reports are submitted to the senior HR manager or directly to the CEO to protect the confidentiality of the information. Feedback is available to all successful candidates as part of their initial development planning. Feedback is also available to the hiring manager to help with the "inboarding" of the new hire.

As managers become familiar with the value of assessment, the focus of the assessment report often changes from hiring or promotion to development and coaching. The information from the psychological profile is used to map and monitor a plan of action for a person's growth within the company.

What does a personal profile assess?

Most profile reports address the following topics:

  • General intellectual level and problem-solving style
  • Emotional maturity and personaI
  • Insight Interpersonal style
  • Management style or selling ability
  • Decision-making and organizational skills
  • Leadership competencies
  • Ambition and aspirations
  • Fit to the organization and position in question

In addition, for candidates, each position has unique needs and expectations. The personal profile report addresses those specific position requirements in the summary.

Reports for development purposes address the same general areas. In addition, the development reports recommend specific education and training experiences to guide the individual toward developing new competencies or preparing for new career opportunities.

What is needed before the personal profile test is administered?

Personal assessments are most effective when the assessor has an opportunity to know the company, the incumbent managers, and the specifications of the position in question. This enables the professional to look at specific issues rather than general competencies. To help ensure that a pre-hire or pre-promotion psychological test addresses the key issues for your situation, it is helpful to tell the professional the following information before he or she begins the evaluation process:
  • Characteristics of the position in question
  • Core competencies for the position and the company
  • Possible barriers that could confront the successful candidate
  • History of past incumbents
  • Culture of the team surrounding the position
  • Culture of the organization
  • Expected short-term outcomes of the position in question
  • Long-term expectations of the position
  • Possible career path for the successful candidate

For developmental profiles, the following information is helpful before the assessment begins:

  • History of successes and setbacks of the individual
  • Relationships with peers and subordinates
  • Possible opportunities to expand responsibility
  • Recent performance reviews
  • Special project opportunities
  • Possible career path(s)

How is a personal assessment conducted?

Personal profiles, as done by Dr. Lakin, are based on a two-hour behavioral interview, a general intelligence test, and several personality questionnaires, for a total of about four hours with an individual. Some psychologists use as much as a full half-day for just testing. Others use little testing but interview for as much as four-five hours. While the science is far from perfect, the combination of a disciplined interview with valid, standardized testing provides a thorough and objective assessment of an individual's capabilities and personality characteristics.

What does an assessment cost?

Like any professional service, there is a wide range of fees for psychological profiling services. In a recent survey of the Chicago area, the range of fees was from $1600 to more than $6000 per assessment. Most personal profiles conducted by Dr. Lakin cost about $1800 for sales and supervisor candidates up to $2500 for executive candidates and developmental planning profiles of senior-level managers/executives.

Bottom line:

You need to hire the right people, develop them effectively, and prepare them for their future and the future of your company. Personal style tests give you important insights about your people and the people you may hire. They help you make better decisions. From a purely financial view, if pre-hire tests and interviews can prevent you from making one bad hire, it probably saves you tens of thousands of dollars. (Remember--a bad hire costs you thousands of dollars in recruiting and hiring expenses, training, lost opportunity, salary and benefits, and termination costs!) From a development perspective, personal profiles focus your training and development dollars where they can be most effective. From an organizational perspective, there is no better growth strategy than using every tool available to hire and develop the best people. Ask Dr. Lakin to help you by providing personal assessment services for your business needs.


Last modified: September, 2015
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