Hiring on Potential

Every human resources manager knows that at some point in your training you are given a crystal ball to only use during the hiring process.  That way, when you are required to hire new employees without pre-employment tests, you can use your mythical sixth sense to gauge whether a candidate would be a good fit.

Okay, the crystal ball thing is a myth perpetuated by people who do not understand the strategic role HR plays in an organization. But it holds a shred of truth when it comes to hiring someone based on their potential for excellence. As tempting as it may be to only hire the most experienced candidate, this practice often overlooks younger candidates, particularly high school graduates, who will become great employees but lack applicable experience.

How do you Identify Potential?

As tempting as it may be to use the crystal ball, gut instinct or the basic resume to identify potential, it tends to paint an incomplete (and often faulty) picture of what a candidate can do. Enter pre-employment tests. Backed by years of ongoing research, these tests go through rigorous development processes to ensure that they provide accurate on a candidate’s potential, even in the absence of work experience. When administered and interpreted correctly, these tests can effectively predict an employee’s future with science instead of mysticism.

Aptitude testing is particularly useful in situations where an employee may not have enough self-awareness or work experience to talk about what they can offer an organization. Not only do they measure numerical, language and spatial skills, they can test how quickly a person learns a new skill or solves a problem given work-related data. As a result, HR managers can make decisions based on data that helps them reduce turnover by as much as 50 percent.

How do you Retain an Employee with Potential?

One of the perks of hiring employees without a lot of work history is the ability to pay them commensurate with their experience level. This becomes problematic once the employee gains a level of experience that can then be transferred to another organization. If an organization is hiring based on potential, spending money on assessing and training and then losing their employees to higher paying jobs, the lazy answer is to simply pay their employees more to match what other companies are offering. However, as a strategic HR mind, you understand that money is not everything. Generally, new high school graduates and high-potential employees with little work experience are looking for intangibles that will affect their overall quality of life. Opportunities for advancement, job coaching, educational opportunities, paid time off, or even periodic company morale activities can often retain quality employees who understand the value of such things.

One of the best ways to retain an employee with potential is to ensure they are a great fit for the job. Personality and motivation assessments can give you a clearer picture of what motivates your candidate and whether they are a good fit for your organization. But job fit testing after a hire can help you see how to motivate and retain existing employees. If your high-potential employee is bored by the majority of the tasks in their current job, you can identify job training or opportunities for advancement that will help them stay with the organization long enough to have that potential realized.

It’s time to throw away the crystal ball and start using pre-employment tests and job fit testing that will accurately help you identify, hire and retain candidates with potential.