Implementing a pre-employment assessment to test all prospective employees, particularly salespeople, has many benefits.
The most obvious one is identifying the best possible candidates for specific job roles, which leads to greater productivity and retention. Testing improves recruitment efforts while avoiding the significant expense (as high as $150,000!) and disruption which accompany a bad hire. The fact that it does this through unbiased scientific data, instead of guesswork or gut instincts, is a bonus.
There are additional advantages to using aptitude tests such as the APQ which might not be apparent at the outset, but prove very valuable down the line.
Here’s a list of some important ones.
The culture of a sales organization can be either gratifying or toxic, and this is primarily a reflection of the personalities which comprise it. A sales department with employees who don’t align with its culture can degenerate into a very uncomfortable and unproductive place.
A pre-employment assessment can not only surface candidates who better fit into the current culture, it can help change it.
We have one client in the Midwest who changed their culture testing new recruits, and all existing employees as well. The APQ allowed executives to make better hiring and placement decisions and this lifted the company’s fortunes and workplace atmosphere substantially.
In another case, a new VP of Sales used assessments to get to know his sales team right away, instead of waiting for it to happen on the job over the course of weeks or months. Because he knew what made his salespeople tick, he was able to gain their trust and create necessary changes to the culture with a lot less friction than might be expected.
A pre-employment assessment helps filter in the most gifted people and can also assist to develop them into stronger performers. By addressing their strengths and weaknesses, it encourages self-reflection. The APQ goes a step further and provides extensive written coaching reports which HR personnel or managers can use as part of training sessions and one to one coaching.
Another side benefit of using a pre-employment aptitude/personality test to coach is it can foster increased emotional intelligence in salespeople. Considering that buyers decide emotionally rather than rationally, it is imperative for salespeople to develop their emotional intelligence to better relate to their prospects. The first step in building EQ in test takers is self-awareness of personality strengths and weaknesses and understanding how others perceive them. This allows them to tweak how they communicate to different buyer personas for better results.
The next advantage a pre-employment assessment provides is correlation. The scores which indicate success for a given job role correlate to real-world findings to back them up. Rather than some pie-in-the-sky methodology, aptitude tests are backed by considerable science.
People who score high on the APQ for the hunter sales role have an average of 50 percent higher sales commissions than those who score low. Therefore, an investment in a pre-employment testing program has concrete, demonstrable returns for every company which makes it a smart hiring tool.
And revenue is not the only correlation proven by higher aptitude test scores. In one case study, a financial services provider examined the relationship between high scores on the Criteria Basic Skills Test and retention rates at one of its call centers. They found that low scorers quit or were fired at a far greater rate than high scorers (56% retention vs. 67%).
This validated scientific correlation of pre-employment assessments adds to the defensibility of a company’s hiring process in light of Equal Opportunity Employment Commission recommendations. It is important for HR and executives to study the EEOC guidelines to ensure compliance, as not all pre-employment tests will pass the muster.
Here are a few more benefits to pre-employment tests:
• It allows managers to spend time with the best candidates. With time and attention at a premium, it pays to help focus efforts on those likeliest to succeed.
• Aligns sales managers and HR supervisors with common criteria.
• Helps create a diverse workforce by reducing bias in selection.
• Might reduce legal exposure by treating candidates equally without regard to sex, age, race, or handicap (tests are “color-blind”).
• Reduces recruiting costs and time by identifying suitable candidates quicker.
Pre-employment assessments deserve serious consideration by all HR managers and sales executives. Not only can they help select the best possible hires, but these are likely to be more defensible under EEOC regulations than other selection methods.
Currently, we at ASHER recommend the Advanced Personality Questionnaire (APQ) for testing salespeople and most jobs for that matter. It has many features which set it apart from other types of aptitude or personality tests. In our next chapter, we will cover how these pre-assessments work to surface deep insights into test takers’ personalities, and therefore their likelihood for success as salespeople, customer-facing roles, or most company jobs.