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Benefits of Pre-Employment Screening Testing Questioned

  • Publish Date: Posted about 6 years ago

As companies strive to hire the best and brightest professionals Indonesia has to offer, multinational and national companies have been advised to focus less on the results of pre-employment screening tests to make hiring decisions and instead trust the instincts and expertise of human resources professionals and managers involved in the interview process to best judges a person’s ability to do a job.

Monica Pribadi, head of human resources and general affairs with PT Acer Indonesia, said Acer had previously relied heavily on pre-employment screening but this year had made the conscious decision to cut aspects of the testing from its recruitment process, including intelligence testing. “We found that the tests are sometimes effective in screening people but it also places unnecessary restrictions on who we can hire,” she said. “Sometimes people who do very well in the tests are not necessarily the best people, and vice versa. Sometimes there are other considerations – their experience and maturity, for example.”

Monica said she was not criticising the pre-employment screening assessments themselves, “but we’re now moving in a different direction.” “These days we use assessments more for the development of our people, not as a hiring tool. It is much more effective.”

She said that this was particularly important with executive-level hires, with experienced, capable and proven professionals often considering the tests demeaning and not focusing properly during the assessments.

Monica said that Acer Indonesia still used behavioural pre-screening testing but only reviewed the results after she had interviewed the candidate personally so “her perceptions were unbiased” and did not cloud her own judgement. And average results from the assessments were now not a barrier to employing talent, she said, adding that the results of rigorous one-on-one interviews were more revealing.

A movement away from such intensive pre-employment screenings was becoming more common in competitive industries such as technology and information technology (IT), she said. “We are entering a talent war. It is difficult to attract good talent. So in a time of war like this, if you are really, really, really strict with your recruitment policies, sometimes it doesn’t help.”

She reiterated that assessments could help with the development of existing staff, “but not for hiring” and to trust the instincts of trained human resources professionals.

Bagus Hendrayono, Managing Director of Indonesia for leading executive recruitment company Monroe Consulting Group, said assessment tests were never intended to be used to decide if a person should be hired, “but to understand individuals and to really maximise productivity from each of them.”

“Many of the assessment tests that are available in Indonesia have been translated from English and are based on a different culture,” Bagus said. “Trusting the opinions of the people who have a deep understanding of the corporate culture, attitude and skills required to be successful is essential in the hiring process.”

Bagus said companies were turning away qualified, experienced staff who were more than capable of performing on the basis of pre-employment screening tests, including intelligence and psychometric tests.

“It happens regularly. We recently had a case where an executive passed the interview process but was let down by the psychometric test,” Bagus said. “Usually the company concerned would have decided against hiring this executive but because of his strong performance during the interview and his experience they made an exception and hired him. The person is now delivering excellent results in the position.”

Andry Lie chief operating officer of NBO Indonesia, which provides human resources, organisational development and business transformation solutions for organisations throughout the country, said NBO was the sole distributer for thomas, which was a global provider of assessment tools.

He acknowledged there was a talent war in Indonesia and that it was becoming increasing difficult and expensive for businesses to make the correct hires.

Asked if some companies were relying too much on the results of pre-employment screening in areas such as personality, behaviour, aptitude and ability, Andry said “yes.” “I always tell my clients that Thomas is not the only way and you should not take it as the only tool to make your [hiring] decisions.”

He said the tests provided about 40 to 60 percent of the information required to make a hiring decision but that some companies used the results as the sole determining factor to take on a new employee or not. “Personally I think you should take the numbers to probe more with the candidate to make sure there is a cultural fit between the person and the organisation.”

Andry said he would personally recommend using the results of psychometric testing during the interview process, as the results could identify key areas that needed to be explored further with the candidate. “Psychometric testing can help but, once again, it is not the only way.”

He said Thomas provided a number of tools that could be used to assess the capabilities of existing employees and aid in the development of individuals to strengthen the overall competency of the business. “We can provide you with a roadmap to developing an individual development plan for each candidate.” This was particularly true with fresh graduates who had yet to gain experience working for a business, he added.

He reiterated that companies should not rely entirely on the results of pre-employment screening testing. “This will help you but it should not be the only deciding factor.”