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The Value of Pre-Hire Assessments for Sales Roles

Drawing top-quality talent to fill sales positions from entry-level to C-level is, for many companies, a pressing and ongoing challenge. According to a 2014 report from Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project, technical sales and sales management positions are among the hardest jobs to fill. Because of the tight talent pool, decision makers can feel rushed to make hires and sometimes depend upon their “gut instinct” when deciding which candidates to bring on board. 

However, with competition for sales positions so intense, it is especially critical to assess talent before hiring in order to avoid mis-hires, which can throw off growth capabilities and be exceedingly expensive to businesses. For example, a 2013 study by CareerBuilder, 27 percent of U.S. employers in the survey said one bad hire cost their organization more than $50,000. 

Increasingly used by companies across all industries, pre-hire assessments are a highly predictive measure of how well a prospective employee will flourish in a specific role. Between 2001 and 2013, large employers in the United States using pre-hire assessments jumped from 26 percent to 57 percent. The tests can ensure candidates have the necessary skills for the role and are a good fit for an organization’s unique culture prior to the interview phase of the hiring process.

For sales positions in particular, companies can create a profile of the characteristics of their star performers and tailor assessments that will help them discover similarly talented sales professionals who are more likely to commit to the business long term.

What are pre-hire assessments?
Pre-hire assessments are tests designed to screen potential employees for the skills, characteristics, and qualifications required to take on a specific role within a company. These assessments are often given early in the hiring process to improve efficiency by ensuring only fully-qualified candidates who are a good fit for the company culture make it to the final hiring stages.

What is the value of pre-hire assessments?
According to a 2010 report by the Aberdeen Group, companies using pre-hire assessments showed 75 percent year-over-year improvements in hiring manager satisfaction and 75 percent year-over-year reduction in hiring costs compared to companies not utilizing assessments.

What are the different types of assessments?
Pre-hire tests can be used to discover a variety of skills and traits, including:

  • Cognitive ability
  • Physical ability
  • Office skills
  • Technical skills
  • Personality traits
  • Language proficiencies
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Motivational levels
  • Problem-solving skills


What are the benefits of pre-hire assessments in hiring for sales roles?
Success in sales goes beyond personal charm, a natural intuition about people, creativity, energy, and the ability to establish long-term relationships. While these are all important characteristics, every organization has its own unique culture and services and products. If a new hire doesn’t feel a sense of connection with your company culture or feel passionate about the products/services you are selling, they are unlikely to perform well or feel satisfied in the position.

Pre-hire assessments can help organizations discover whether someone has a personality that aligns with their culture and whether they are likely to be energetically engaged in driving sales for the long term.

To get the most out of pre-hire assessment for sales positions, it’s important that companies analyze the roles they are looking to fill and study the star sales talent within their organization prior to testing. Once they understand the position clearly and have defined what success looks like in the role, they can use testing to hone in on talent who possess those competencies.

Role-playing tests are also a strong hiring tool for sales. In-person interactions with customers can reveal significant similarities or differences from the highest performers within an organization. These tests can also illuminate whether an applicant’s personality and approach would be a good fit for your organizations target customer.

The complexity of the pre-hire tests often reflects the complexity of the position being filled. When filling an executive-level sales management role, for example, multiple rounds of testing will probably be required to gain the most beneficial and accurate understanding of a candidate’s fit for the position.

What are the issues with pre-hire assessments?
Organizations must be clear about the purpose and requirements of each test to avoid possible pitfalls. All tests must comply with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requirements that they are fully relevant to the specific position being filled. In 2015, retail giant Target Corp. settled a discriminatory-practices lawsuit stemming from EEOC charges that some of the company’s pre-hire assessments were not sufficiently job related and were discriminatory against minorities and women.

It is recommended that pre-hire test vendors are specialized in evaluating for sales roles and that evaluations are based on multiple tests, rather than a single test, to get a fuller picture of the candidate. Also, vendors should be able to provide statistics proving the testing increases valuable hires while decreasing the number of bad hires.

Finally, the assessments should be a positive experience for all test takers – those who eventually become employees and those who do not. Job seekers’ time is valuable and should be treated as such. The tests should feel pertinent to the job they are applying for, and the testing environment should be as engaging and supportive as possible.

What comes after the assessments?
Pre-hire assessments are extremely valuable for narrowing the pool of prospective hires for sales roles, but remember they are only one part of the process. They should never be used as the sole method of selecting hires. It is still important to consider résumés and references closely. And the face-to-face interview will always be relevant.

Used well, pre-hire assessments ensure that the applicants’ and hiring managers’ time is not wasted simply because they reveal early on who is not a right fit.  After the job offer is made, sales managers can focus less of their valuable energy on under-performing talent and more on empowering the team. Likewise, new hires won’t be frustrated by a disconnect between their skill set and the requirements of the position.

With pre-hire testing, chronically difficult-to-fill sales roles become easier to fill and keep filled for the long term. The assessments improve all stages of the recruitment and employment life cycle, from the initial application to the on-boarding process to the work experience for both new hires and sales managers going forward.

Want to learn more? Contact Hudson RPO.

 
 
 

Predictive Talent Pooling – 10 Tips for Getting It Right

Most businesses are in the midst of a workforce redesign to empower newer, more nimble business models. The HR team must anticipate and keep pace with ongoing business innovations while driving leading-edge talent solutions to meet changing workforce needs and challenges.

Predictive talent pooling provides a hiring approach that blends strategic sourcing, talent pooling and predictive data tools to hire better people in less time and at less expense while meeting many of the newly designed workforce demands.

How can you set yourself up for success?

1. Be realistic. A talent pool will rarely cover all roles in an organization. Keep it to key roles and sectors that are hard-to-fill and crucial to the organization’s daily operations. Don’t spread your resources too thin.

2. Know what you need. Have a reasonable idea of when you will need the talent, where you will need them and how many you will need—otherwise you risk wasting time talent pooling candidates in areas where jobs will never materialize.

3. Aim high. Set the bar high and ensure your recruiters fill the talent pool with the best. Don’t fill it with poor quality or irrelevant candidates. This can cause the data you garner to become unusable and ultimately jeopardize the whole program. Be clear on entry criteria and also exit criteria.

4. Shore up your EVP. Your Employee Value Proposition is your currency in the war for talent. Be clear on why your organization is the best workplace in your industry and how to articulate that. This will help you retain and motivate current employees as well.

5. Be authentic. The information that you present to your audience has to be authentic or you risk people joining your organization and being immediately disillusioned by the gap between what was promised and the reality. Being authentic ensures your new hires have the right level of expectation when joining your organization.

6. Monitor its effectiveness. Is the talent pool justifying the resources that are going into it? Have a list of clear KPIs and report on them monthly, quarterly and annually. What is the placement rate of candidates in your talent pool? Is your cost-per-hire and time-to-fill decreasing?

7. Talk the talk. Sourcing specialists with deep experience in their representative industries are usually more effective at building rapport with the candidates in those industries, although there are exceptions and strong generalists do exist. Remember Sourcers are the first interaction the candidate has with your company, which is crucial in establishing the relationship.

8. Line up your ducks. Few organizations use talent pooling and even fewer use predictive talent pooling. Explain the business-wide cost savings and efficiency dividends to the hiring manager and make sure he or she embraces the change. If approaching candidates on social media, make sure the marketing team is on board, and that your team follows the firm’s social media policy.

9. Manage candidate expectations. Be careful with your wording when accepting candidates into the pool. Avoid stating or suggesting that it will lead to guaranteed employment.

10. Don’t drop off the radar. Putting candidates into a talent pool and never contacting them again leaves a negative impression. And don’t forget former silver medalist candidates. They might be perfect for those open roles!

Want more information on predictive talent pooling? Contact Hudson RPO

 
 
 

Predictive Talent Pooling: A New Approach to a New Type of Workforce

According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends Survey, 90 percent of business leaders in North America and 92 percent in Latin America rate “Organizational Design” as their top human capital-related priority. The results are strikingly consistent across industries.

This organizational redesign trend is driven by new business models that require organizational flexibility such as the

  • Rise of virtual workers and mobile project teams
  • Departure from functional departments to more product- and customer-centered structures
  • Need for Gig Economy contingent, contract and part-time workers for special projects

Not surprisingly the talent needs and challenges related to these new business models have also changed. For example, smaller, more mobile project teams require more nimble, globally savvy leaders. Yet while 89 percent of company executives view leadership as an important or very important issue, more than half (56 percent) don’t believe their companies are prepared to meet their leadership needs.i  HR and Talent Acquisition leaders must implement programs to identify and cultivate versatile leaders earlier in their careers, particularly Millennial leaders. This begins by hiring people with the right potential.

Likewise companies are shifting focus to diversity and inclusion, of which the benefits are well documented. Achieving a more gender- balanced workplace creates efficiency savings, enhances employee engagement, boosts productivity, meets the diverse needs of customer and suppliers and improves brand reputation.ii

For example, according to a study by Dr. Roy Adler of Pepperdine, companies with the strongest record of promoting women to the executive suite outperform overall industry-average profits by 34 percent (when calculated for revenue).iii

What if you could identify and build talent pools to meet each of these different needs? And what if you could predict when these candidates will begin a new job search? The implications for improved hiring efficiency and HR “readiness” are significant.

This is what the practice of predictive talent pooling provides: A hiring approach that blends strategic sourcing, talent pooling and predictive data tools to hire better people in less time and at less expense while meeting many of the newly designed workforce demands.

“Hudson’s use of predictive technology has allowed us to map out and monitor our talent pools. We now start a search knowing roughly how many people are qualified and available. It is the first time we have had access to relevant, timely supply- side data, and it has dramatically improved our performance.”
Mike Wolford, Sourcing Manager – Hudson 

Want to learn more about what Predictive Talent Pooling can do for you? Contact Hudson RPO

___________________________

i. “Global Human Capital Trends 2016: The new organization, different by design,” Deloitte University Press
ii.  “Food for Thought Fact Sheet -- The Business case for Gender Diversity,” Business in the Community, 2012
iii.  Roy D. Adler, PhD, “Women in the Executive Suite Correlate to High Profits,” Pepperdine University, 2001

 
 
 

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Hudson is a global talent solutions company. We help transform the workplace and unleash the full potential of organizations and individuals. Our expert team and proprietary tools provide you with unique insights and services that help you maximize your success. Across 20 countries, we deliver a range of recruitment, talent management and recruitment process outsourcing solutions to get you and your business where you want to be.