Assess the right level to find your ideal candidate

This infographic outlines what we call the Three Levels of Assessment for candidate assessment. They represent the levels of a person that allow you to determine if they will succeed in a role. If you’re not looking at the right level, you may be making decisions based on bad information.

There was a study done at the University of Michigan that found that interviews are only accurate predictors of future success 14% of the time. The other 86% of the time, they’re not reliable.

The reason for that is interviewers are tapping into the wrong level of information in an interview to make a useful prediction of future success.

When we talk to clients, we talk of three levels of assessment. The first level is this phenomenon that we all experience called the first impression. When we first meet somebody, in that initial gut reaction we have to meeting that person, we tend to make a decision, even on a subconscious level, about whether we like this person or not. A study done at Princeton University suggests that in just 100 milliseconds, people are making decisions about you or you’re making decisions about candidates based on their appearance. 

This level of assessment is based on appearance, mannerisms, expressiveness and presence. We refer to this as the “Appear to” level, meaning this tells you what a candidate appears to be able to do.

When it comes to predicting future performance, this first level has a very low success rate. In other words, you could meet somebody, have that initial great reaction about them, feel really connected; think, yeah this is the person that I want to hire, which, by the way, is what most hiring managers do. Then you spend the rest of the interview trying to prove or disprove that initial gut feeling; it can bias an entire interview.

So, we move onto the second level, which is really about skills, abilities and experiences. The kind of information you would find on somebody’s resume. This level encompasses learned skills, experience, education and credentials. This level has a greater impact on predicting performance on the job. We call that the “Can do” level. It tells you what a person can do, but not necessarily what they will do. For that we have to look to the level 3. 

We call this final level the “Will do” level because it allows us to assess how that person will behave on the job. It includes attitudes and beliefs, self-motivation, capability to learn and temperament.

Temperament is probably the foundational piece in this level. It’s temperament, or behavior patterns, that really capture a person’s nature, their disposition. It’s the reason we are who we are and it influences those other elements on the list. Psychologists tell us that either people are born with certain temperament or that it’s instilled at a very early age.

We know that this aspect actually has the highest impact on future success, if we can access it, but it’s the hardest piece to get to. If you picture an iceberg, levels 1 and 2 are the tip that’s above water – what you typically see in an interview - and level 3 is the bulk of the iceberg beneath the surface. You usually don’t get to see that until eight or nine months down the road. 

If you can access that third level before you hire, though, your chances of hiring someone built to succeed skyrockets.