A couple of years ago, we were asked to provide a careers briefing to a group of aspiring psychologists at a respected North West University. Arriving a little early for my rather awesome (if I say so myself) presentation, I found myself leafing through one of the meaty publications provided for students to help them prepare for assessment events.
It was simply staggering. Not just how to prepare for the interview, but the lists of competency based questions and suggested answers. Pretty much most of the competencies that an organisation might have in their model, laid bare. That’s without the checklists about ‘how to behave in the group exercise’ and ‘questions to ask in the role play’ and ‘five steps to a great presentation’.
Of course, as soon as an organisation launches a new recruitment process, the web and social media are awash with the details, together with hints, tops and observations from previous candidates. The growth of websites like Glassdoor (if you don’t know who they are, then you need to find out yesterday) has compounded that challenge even further.
From that point onwards, we’ve become increasing convinced that light weight, competency based approaches (unless these are developed and implemented very robustly) are severely handicapped as a valid recruitment tool almost as soon as they are launched. The validation evidence for competency based assessment centres is actually a little unreliable due to the variety of events given this moniker anyway (but that’s a bit of an inconvenient truth for our industry).
As a result, we continue to steer our clients away from competencies towards:
- Assessing candidates at a deeper and more fundamental level
- Using more unexpected and innovative approaches
- Training their people thoroughly and
- Trusting recruiters to make and evidence better quality judgement calls
Rather simply following what our candidates (and the assessment establishment) – expect us to do. Clients love it, recruiters love and – reassuringly – candidates love it as they feel they are being assessed properly for the role, not just going through a sausage machine.
Vive La Revolution!