Using job–match assessments to improve recruitment and selection

Nov. 1, 2008
Success in business is driven by people, and the degree of success achieved will ultimately depend on the people doing the driving.

by Bent Ericksen and Tim Twigg

For more on this topic, go to and search using the following key words: turnover, hiring decisions, recruitment, interviewing, Bent Ericksen, Tim Twigg.

Success in business is driven by people, and the degree of success achieved will ultimately depend on the people doing the driving. One of the most challenging aspects of managing any business or practice is hiring the right people. When an employee is unsuccessful, low productivity and/or turnover is the result. Turnover, due to bad hiring decisions, can be emotionally and financially damaging.

Financial and emotional impacts of turnover

Conservative estimates are that the financial impact of turnover is between $10,000 and $20,000 each time a turnover occurs; however, this will vary from position to position and may be as much as two to three times the annual salary of the departing employee. This cost is a combination of both indirect and direct expenses such as advertising, time for interviewing and checking references, training, agency fees, overtime, lost productivity, and additional staff salaries.

In addition to the financial impact, there is emotional stress associated with turnover. While the employer has the burden of finding a replacement, staff members have to adjust to the effects of a missing team member. Some adjustments include working longer hours, assuming additional duties, and increased responsibilities. A recent survey revealed that the biggest consequence of making a bad hiring decision is a serious decline in employee morale.

Traditional methods of recruiting

Traditional methods of recruiting, which rely heavily on resumes and interviews, often do not provide enough information to effectively evaluate a candidate. The probability of selecting the right individual the first time increases as layers of multiple modes of evaluation are added. Statistically, using a resume and job interview as the principal recruiting strategy has a success rate of just 14%. This increases to only 26% when coupled with reference checking.

In addition, traditional methods of recruiting tend to focus too heavily on skills and experience, rather than the candidate's "fit" with the organization. This may be a mistake considering that skills can be taught and experience, unfortunately, does not always equate to proficiency or competency.

Ways to increase hiring success

Given this information, it is obvious why more and more dentists are looking for ways to increase hiring success. Research indicates that hiring success rates increase to 54% when personality and abilities testing is added, and as much as 75% when job–matching assessments are factored in. As a result, personality and job–matching assessments are becoming a standard component in the hiring process.

Job–match assessments

Why would an employer want to conduct job–match assessments? It is the basic personality traits and the associated behaviors of an individual that allow for prediction of what a person will do or how a person will respond in a given situation. Thus, if an employer understands, prior to hiring an individual, that he or she is highly favorable toward change, then the employer will better understand the person's ability to "fit" within the practice or the position.

The job–match assessment from Bent Ericksen & Associates, called "Integrated Performance Management" (IPM), provides a graphical, as well as a narrative, representation of an applicant's basic personality. Comprised within this representation is the applicant's:

  • Key personality traits and how the different traits influence behavior
  • Motivational needs: primary motivators and demotivators that impact productivity
  • Decision–making style
  • Leadership style
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Conscientiousness
  • Environmental/role adjustments: details how much the candidate is attempting to reduce or increase certain traits in order to adjust to pressures in his/her current job
  • Current stress level
  • Current energy level
  • Proactivity: measures how likely an individual will intentionally and actively create change in the work environment
  • Self–monitoring: measures two dimensions of personality; behavioral flexibility (ability to "flex" their workplace behaviors) and career mobility (degree to which they are comfortable performing a wide variety of roles)

All of this combined provides an employer with valuable insight into many "intangibles" as to whether or not the candidate might be a good fit for the practice.

Very little is involved for an applicant to take a job–match assessment, which is typically done on a computer, and takes only 10 or 15 minutes. The assessment itself is made up of a variety of questions with answers being either true/false or ranked on a scale of 1 to 5.

The real power of job–match assessments results when an individual's assessment is also compared with a database of "composite profiles" of high achievers in the same type of position. For example, you can compare an applicant's assessment with composite profiles of high–achieving hygienists, assistants, or front office administrators. Bent Ericksen & Associates has compiled this database through a national study and an assessment process conducted three years ago.

As job–match technology has evolved, the assessment now empowers employers to effectively match the behavioral tendencies of candidates with the behavioral requirements of specific positions. This is done by taking the candidate's profile and pairing it against the appropriate composite profile. This enables employers to visually see how the candidate's personality traits match the ideal personality traits needed.

It is important to note that no assessment tool is meant to be used as the sole deciding factor in whether or not a person is hired. It is supplemental information that when combined with all other recruiting techniques offer a broader and more in–depth perspective on the candidate and increase the likelihood of hiring success.

To support greater success, the job–match tool can also generate structured and targeted interview questions that are designed to elicit meaningful and job–relevant responses from candidates. This set of specific behavioral–based questions can be used for greater interviewing success. The questions are designed to further probe into potential behavioral challenges of individual candidates based on what is known from the composite profile and how that individual's traits match that profile.

As you may be aware from various news reports, some instruments being used by employers are not valid and have been found to be discriminatory. Therefore, an important aspect in selecting and using any assessment tool is to ensure its validity.

Although there are several sources for personality and job–match assessments, Bent Ericksen & Associates' IPM system is a validated instrument which contains all of the components outlined above. IPM is highly accurate and has been statistically validated. Field studies reveal that 96% of respondents rate their IPM profiles 90% accurate or higher.

Each of the IPM personality traits was found to be highly invariant across race, sex, and occupation. Our ongoing EEOC compliance and validity studies make IPM a good choice for preventing biased — and potentially costly — hiring practices.

In summary, employers should strive to make more effective hiring decisions. The financial and emotional impacts are too great to continue down the same, tired path. The best way to improve hiring success is to utilize the availability of job–match technology for safer, more confident and successful hiring.

Bent Ericksen is the founder and Tim Twigg is the president of Bent Ericksen & Associates. For more than 25 years, the company has been a leading authority in human resources and personnel issues, helping dentists successfully deal with the ever–changing and complex labor laws. Both authors are members of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants. To receive a complimentary copy of the company's quarterly newsletter or to learn more about their services, contact them at (800) 679–2760 or at

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