Category Archives: eSkill

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The Holacracy Case: How to Recruit for These Radical New Organizations

Holacracy

Imagine a workplace with no managers or titles, an office without seniority or hierarchy. All employees are considered equal there, and without the presence of any supervisors, everyone works together and individually to reach their goals. You may be surprised to find out that this model actually exists. It’s a new business trend that’s making serious waves, so learn its name: this is a holacracy.

It turns out that there are many benefits to a holacracy. First, it dispenses with the red tape and hierarchy that so often slow down productivity. Secondly, a holacratic environment allows employees to think for themselves, to prove themselves, and to accomplish more based on their own merits, as opposed to fulfilling a preordained performance plan; being self-directed can result in a great deal of job satisfaction. Further, a holacracy encourages an entrepreneurial environment where employees have to stay at the top of their game, continuously innovating and producing results.

This radical and exciting concept doesn’t come without some drawbacks, however. While most workplaces still struggle with just the idea of letting employees work from home, the thought of eliminating managers and supervisors seems not only daunting, but flat-out impossible. And of course there’s the risk that less experienced employees will feel adrift without such guidance. Worse, there’s the danger that employees will be reluctant to venture forward with a new idea or stick their neck out to try something new, if they lack the benefit or the perceived protection of a higher job title.

If your company—or even a single department within your company—might profit from this system, it’s important to figure out how staffing it will affect recruiting. As with all recruiting, you’ll be looking for top candidates. But finding the best candidates for a holacracy means choosing people with the particular qualities that will help them succeed in this unusual environment.

Recruiting in general is a formidable task, and that’s even before the decision to undertake a search for a whole new type of employee. The key is to narrow down the pool of applicants to only those who can truly thrive in a flattened company environment. This can be done through resume and interview screening, to some extent. Look for candidates with experience working for themselves or candidates who offer proven examples of taking the initiative on a project.

An even better method of thinning out the herd is to use pre-employment assessment tools. Through pre-employment assessment, employers can see beyond the resume and interview to ascertain whether a candidate will fit into a holacracy model. For example, an assessment test can include certain “trigger” questions to gauge a candidate’s ability to thrive while working independently. Questions such as, “Would you be happy and able to stay motivated working as your own boss?” or, “Would you accept a job that came without the sort of title you’re used to?” can help winnow the field of candidates. This type of pre-employment assessment helps keep the candidate pool filled with a manageable number of qualified applicants who can actually succeed in a holacracy.

Job simulation assessments can also help you find candidates who are capable and able to work independently. Giving candidates a specific scenario and seeing how they would handle it is an effective method to determine whether the applicant would do well in a workplace with no supervision.

Integrating pre-employment assessments and job simulations into your recruitment process can help you analyze a candidate’s chances for success and consequently make more informed decisions. You’ll want to use every tool in your arsenal to find the best way to staff the new holacracy.

Eric Friedman, Author

eSkill Author EricEric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eskill.com, or contact him on LinkedIn.


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Checking References – Are They Worth the Time?

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Checking references

Checking references is a step often skipped in the recruiting process. After interviewing candidates, narrowing them down to a select few, and discussing possible salary and other specifics, many employers forgo the reference check. They either assume everything the candidate stated would check out fine, or they simply don’t have sufficient time to contact the references.

But the tragic event earlier this year in the United States, in which a former news reporter shot his ex-coworkers who were conducting a live television interview, emphasizes the importance of checking candidates’ references.

Following the shooting, several facts emerged about the shooter’s personal and professional life. These facts showed he was a troubled individual whose behavior was confrontational and even violent. He had a history of disruptive and disconcerting conduct, as reported later by his previous employers.

Without placing blame on employers’ thoroughness, this tragedy nevertheless forces us to question whether hiring managers ever checked the shooter’s references. If so, and if hiring managers heard about the shooter’s volatile behavior, would this man have been hired in the first place? Although hiring decisions are seldom a matter of life or death like this example, the situation highlights the need to check an applicant’s references thoroughly.

Checking references is a helpful and necessary step for making a hiring decision. Here are five reasons why checking references is worth the time:

  1. Validating what the candidate says. Some people may be tempted to do almost anything to land a job, embellishing their credentials or straight-out lying on their resumes. A hiring manager can find out the truth about a candidate by contacting his or her references. Ask references to illuminate anything pertinent from the time of employment (e.g. Did the candidate really work at X company for 10 years?), to positions held (e.g. Was the candidate really the president of operations?), and specific tasks performed (e.g. Did the candidate increase profit margins by 20 percent?).
  1. Shedding light on potential problems. Most candidates don’t have significant personal or professional issues to hide, but hiring managers should still try to find out everything they can about a candidate’s past. Contacting references can shed light on issues that may arise in the future. Even if you don’t find out about any serious problems or foul play—since most companies won’t share this information for fear of being sued by their former employees—you may uncover other facts that could spell trouble. For instance, a reference may clarify that the candidate had trouble working in a team or failed to meet company goals.
  1. Going beyond the workplace. Checking professional references, such as a previous supervisor or HR manager, can validate the candidate’s previous work experience. You can also ask for other forms of references to validate information, such as universities attendance, organizational involvement, and even personal traits. All of these references will help to create a fuller picture of the individual and to figure out whether he or she is a right fit for your company.
  1. Helping make candidate selections. Recruiting top candidates is never easy, but checking references can help the process proceed smoothly. If you have multiple candidates with comparable experience and skills, and they’ve all performed well in interviews, checking their references can further narrow the selection to help you pick the best person for the job. Often, a positive (or negative) reference can make all the difference between two seemingly equal candidates.
  1. Saving time and money. All other benefits aside, it’s always worth checking references to save your company time and money. The cost of recruiting and hiring can spike quickly when you have to replace employees that don’t work out. High turnover rates are costly but can be avoided by finding the right person the first time. Checking reference is an integral part of the recruiting process that can save lots of time and money in the long run.

Checking references can help hiring managers to make better decisions and to hire people who will positively impact the company’s future performance. Do you always check your applicant’s references?

Eric Friedman, Author

eSkill Author EricEric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eskill.com, or contact him on LinkedIn.


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Stop That! 9 Manager Behaviors That Drive Employees Crazy

Bad Manager Behaviors - Copy

People are always talking about how to act in front of the boss. There are countless articles offering advice about what not to do to upset your manager or supervisor. Yet employees aren’t the only ones that should be mindful of how they act. Managers should also be aware of certain behaviors that can drive their employees nuts. If they go unchecked, these actions can seriously hinder the ability of a workforce to attain its maximum productivity.

Here are 9 annoying manager behaviors and ways to correct them:

1. Ignoring employee achievement. When an employee performs well but the manager ignores it or doesn’t offer praise, the employee is going to feel unappreciated. That is a problem that can result in employees becoming less productive—why would employees try their best if the manager is going to ignore them anyway? Supervisors should always acknowledge good work and offer praise when deserved.

2. Assuming ownership of someone else’s work. Imagine that after weeks of working on a special project, you find out that your manager pitched it as his own to senior-level staff. That would be outrageous, and indeed, nothing drives employees crazier than someone else taking credit for their hard work. Granted, it might be an inadvertent mistake, but managers should be extremely careful to avoid even the appearance of taking responsibility for their subordinates’ work. Give credit where credit is due, and identify the person who actually put in the time and thought.

3. Being too negative. It’s true that managers have to deal with a lot more than employees do—company politics, bureaucracy, and budgets—so it’s understandable that they can’t say “yes” to everything. But a manager who just says “no” can be a real downer. Managers should balance their responses to their employees. When the answer can’t be “yes” all the time, the way that the “no” is delivered can go a long way towards keeping a workforce motivated.

4. Offering confusing Instructions. You know how frustrating it is when you buy a piece of furniture that you have to assemble yourself, but the instructions are impossible to follow? That’s exactly how employees feel when their managers offer instructions that are vague or make no sense. Managers should strive to provide direction that is clear and direct, and clarify anything that might be confusing.

5. Micromanaging the staff. The other side of the “confusing instructions” coin is giving too much direction, to the point that staff feel micromanaged. Being clear and direct is one thing, but a manager who looks over employees’ shoulders and offers suggestions every few minutes will end up stifling the team’s motivation and productivity.

6. Not speaking straightforwardly. Being a manager is about more than instructing employees, it’s also about offering guidance. The manager is quite often the conduit between the employees and the senior-level staff, so it’s important to be straightforward about the expectations, directives, and instructions that come from higher-ups. A manager who does not communicate effectively can be seen as not caring if subordinates are well-informed.

7. Being unavailable to employees. Most employees want—and expect—feedback. They want to be able to consult with their managers for direction, to ask questions and set forth plans. A manager who is constantly unavailable to meet with employees can be perceived as uninterested in the staff, or perhaps even disrespectful of them. Managers who strive to be there for their teams can better keep track of progress, while also providing feedback and praise.

8. Criticizing everything. A manager who provides nonstop criticism is slowly but surely crushing the employees’ spirits. Constantly criticizing is actually a form of bullying, and it can create a hostile environment where employees are reluctant to try anything new or to speak up at all for fear of being criticized. While not every idea can be a gem, managers must know how to constructively offer feedback that doesn’t diminish their employees’ creativity or entrepreneurial spirit.

9. Struggling to make decisions. Finally, managers who can’t seem to make up their minds can drive their employees crazy very quickly. A manager who is erratic, or who never chooses a course of action and sticks with it, can derail an entire team’s output. Furthermore, employees might realize they can just cruise by, doing the bare minimum, since their supervisors never seem to decide what they want. Having a solid plan and making decisions that support the company goals are the best ways to keep employees in line.

What other annoying managers behaviors have you witnessed? Have you got a suggestion for something crucial that managers must do to keep from driving their employees crazy?

Eric Friedman, Author

Eric Friedman

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eskill.com, or contact him on LinkedIn.


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Why You’re Failing at Recruiting Really Good Candidates

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recruiting

How many times has a recruiter uttered the words, “I’m looking for a really good candidate for this position?” It’s an interesting phrase for several reasons. First, no recruiter would ever say, “I’m looking for a mediocre candidate for this position.” Second, if every recruiter is looking for really good candidates, it’s safe to assume that actually finding them must be very difficult, simply given the competition. And third, really good candidates are very likely to be already happily employed—and, if they’re available, the reason why might make them not so good after all.

As if these weren’t reasons enough why you might be failing at recruiting those really good candidates, consider the following recruiting traps that are all too easy to fall into.

Making It All About You, Not Them

Many recruiters make the mistake of doing all of the talking during an interview, instead of letting the candidate tell them why they’re right for the job. Not only does this come off as rude to the candidates, but the recruiter also fails in his or her mission of finding out more about the candidate than what is in the resume. The interview should be about the candidate, not about the recruiter.

Relying Too Much on “Gut Feeling”

How important is that gut feeling that tells you a candidate is perfect for the job? Well, it’s very important, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Going on guts alone can backfire tremendously when you’re trying to recruit really good candidates. A charming candidate who wins you over may be charismatic and may give you a good gut feeling, but he might turn out to be pretty mediocre when it comes down to doing the job. Don’t ignore your gut, but base your decision on deeper reasoning.

Playing Too Hard to Get

You want really good candidates to want to work for your company, so you sell it very well. But there’s a difference between a good sell and coming off as standoffish and too hard to get. Of course you want to present your company in the best light possible, pointing out why working there is a great opportunity for the right candidate, but try not to go too far and make it seem like working there is the be-all and end-all of all jobs, or you may put some candidates off.

Forgetting You Need Them Too

Another easy mistake recruiters make is forgetting that they need the candidate just as much (if not more) as the candidate needs the job. This can lead recruiters to act too aloof and as if they don’t care whether the candidate takes the job or not, potentially driving really good candidates into the arms of competitors. If you find a really good candidate, don’t be afraid to express how much the company would like to have her on board.

Thinking They’re Too Good

Not unlike the dating world, rejecting a candidate because he’s perceived to be too good is a real roadblock in hiring really good candidates. Sure, all recruiters say they want really good candidates, but many end up feeling intimidated by top talent (whether consciously or subconsciously), and they wind up bypassing them. Don’t feel threatened by talented candidates; instead, focus on how much their expertise will help the company grow.

Making It All About the Money

Focusing too much on money can also be a turn off for candidates. Whether it’s asking what their current salary is, how much commission they get, or how much they would expect to make their first year if they’re hired at your company can all be a bit much for a first interview. This is especially true since really good candidates might be more interested in increased job responsibilities and growth opportunities, rather than money.

Misunderstanding the Generational Divide

Really good candidates may come in all shapes and sizes, and they also come from all different generations. Younger Gen Y (Millennials) and Gen Z candidates view the workplace completely different from Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Misunderstanding this divide can really cost you in acquiring talent, since a simple difference in perception can be all it takes for recruiters to dismiss a younger candidate, even if she is a really good—and maybe the best—candidate.

Having Too Great Expectations

Finally, looking for really good candidates can end up making you set the bar too high. Sure, you want the best talent out there, but what should really matter is finding someone who fits in well with your company culture, who brings a different set of perspectives and skills than everyone else, and who will succeed on the job over the long term. Expecting everything from a candidate right from the start is more likely to hinder your recruiting efforts than help you hire really good candidates.

Are there other reasons why you think you might be failing at recruiting really good candidates? In what ways have you adapted your recruiting strategies in order to attract and hire the best candidates?

Eric Friedman, Author

Eric Friedman

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eskill.com, or contact him on LinkedIn.


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The Death of the 40-Hour Workweek

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40 hour work week

We all know that working overtime is a reality in today’s business world—for many reasons, such as having too many tasks that need to get resolved and not enough time; peer pressure from seeing your colleagues stay late so you don’t want to be the one that leaves first; and the fear of being perceived as not being involved enough in the job. If the boss always works late, the employees often feel that they need to follow suit. Although it may seem harmless to stay another hour after the regular schedule, overtime abuse can in fact lead to less productivity overall due to fatigue or even exhaustion, and the inability to concentrate after many hours of work.

The organizational culture of many companies praises employees who work late and marginalizes those who don’t. Workers who leave work at the end of the normal workday may also miss valuable information from informal meetings that occur after hours. Taking a look across multiple industries, you can see that overtime is a big part of Corporate America, and avoiding it is not as easy as just saying “no overtime.” I know when I pack up at five or six at night there is still a lot of work to be done, and sometimes I end up working late into the night to get a head start on the next day.

HR can’t simply say “no more overtime,” because there will always be deadlines, clients who need immediate attention, and business objectives that have to be accomplished. Having too much work isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a company, but managing employee burnout and overtime can turn into a tricky situation. This phenomenon will never go away, and most employees, depending on their industry, will sometimes—or often—feel like they need to stay late, come in early, and work overtime. I’ve devised three suggestions that will help HR manage some of the extra workload temporarily. The best thing you can do is to try to make sure that the workload matches the number of employees you have, but unfortunately that’s not always possible.

Hire Temporary Contract Workers

Some companies might not be able to hire full-time people who’ll need benefits, office space, etc., but most can find the leeway in their budgets to hire temporary contract workers. Applying a cost-benefit analysis on these workers will show your higher-ups that it costs less to hire contract workers than to have to replace full-time staffers who are burnt out by constant overtime. While some industries consider overtime as part of the job, there are several out there that don’t. When you’re a salaried employee, it’s hard to see the benefit in working 60-80 hour workweeks. Hiring temporary relief will give these salaried employees a much-needed break.

Offer Perks That Make Up for Extra Time Spent in the Office

If employees are constantly in the office late, offer up some perks that will help them manage their personal life. This could include providing snacks or meals, laundry services, free booze in the office after hours (this is becoming extremely popular), a gym on site, as well as anything else that’ll help them feel more at home even though they’re in the office. Small things that don’t cost a lot of money can sometimes go far in the mindset of a salaried employee who’s working long hours.

Offer Unlimited Vacation Policies

Did your workplace just complete a major project? Allow your employees to take some necessary “R and R” and grant them as many vacation days as they need to do so. This will allow them to recharge without having to worry about having a cap on the number of vacation days spent. Most employees who work 60-80 hour workweeks deserve to spend time with their family after a long session of nonstop work, and some may want to get out for a week or two at a time. Offering up an unlimited vacation policy (which doesn’t mean that vacation days are really unlimited, rather that your company can be flexible about the number of days off as long as the work gets done) could go a long way toward providing some type of work-life balance in your office.

Eric Friedman, Author

Eric Friedman

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eskill.com, or contact him on LinkedIn.


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How to Hire and Retain Highly Engaged Employees

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Highly engaged employees are a valuable resource, since they also tend to be reliable and successful. Every company should try to stack its roster with such people, since successful employees make for a successful business. By attracting and retaining employees who are engaged and motivated, companies are more likely to secure a solid future for themselves as well as their employees. It’s a cycle that benefits all who are involved.

There are a lot of ways to increase your chances of hiring high-caliber, engaged employees. Once you’ve signed these kinds of employees, though, you must do your part to maintain that engagement. Engagement is a two way street. It requires your efforts as well as the employee’s, so that you can create a partnership together that is mutually beneficial. But getting there isn’t always an easy task. A 2014 Gallup study showed that less than 32% of the U.S. workforce was engaged, 51% were just plain not engaged, and 18% were considered to be actively disengaged. That’s three different ways of saying there are a bunch of people out there who are not engaged in their work.

Going Beyond HR

When it comes to attracting and retaining highly engaged employees, the retaining aspect is not only the responsibility of HR, but of the company as a whole. It could also be argued that highly engaged employees aren’t hired; they are made. While a candidate might show some characteristics that would imply a higher likelihood of engagement, it’s the company’s responsibility to go beyond that. A company that fosters a culture and environment that encourages and enables higher levels of engagement is going to keep these types of employees around. If it’s left only up to HR, a company may be able to attract these types of employees, but retaining them might be an entirely different story.

Recruiting

Throughout the recruitment process, there are specific questions you can ask and different ways to assess or evaluate candidates, in order to determine whether or not they are likely to be engaged individuals. Being conscious of these processes and proactively using such strategies will help get the ball rolling.

Motivation

Motivation is going to look different at different points in the process. The motivation a candidate may show while trying to get a position might be very different from the motivation you see once he or she is hired. Unfortunately, for many, once the job is obtained, they are less motivated because they already have what they were going for. That is where incentives or recognition can play a big part in motivating employees as well as keeping them around.

Communication

Making sure that communication is efficient, accurate, and concise throughout the recruiting process, and also once an employee is hired. Not only does this show respect for individual employees, it’s a way to let them know exactly what is expected of them. On the front end, you need to be able to communicate job expectations and environmental factors. On the back end, you need to be able to work with an employee and make sure that everyone is consistently on the same page. When communication is effective, problems can often been dealt with before they become bigger problems, everyone stays happier, and employees feel respected. That goes a long way towards encouraging them to stay engaged for a long time.

Eric FriedmanEric Friedman, Author

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eskill.com, or contact him on LinkedIn.


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Find Top Qualified Candidates with Job Simulations

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Finding the most qualified candidate for a job is seldom easy. Even when you think you’ve found the perfect candidates, they sometimes don’t succeed as you thought they would. Through pre-employment job simulations, recruiters can find out whether the seemingly perfect candidate will actually do well on the job.

Job simulation tests present real-life work scenarios that assess how well a candidate would perform if on the job. Simulations engage candidates in environments that recreate what they would encounter in real life. Like an astronaut in training has to master a space shuttle simulator, candidates can demonstrate their skills and expertise while navigating a job simulation.

Job simulations can apply to many different industries and functions, including call centers, manufacturing, finance, banking, and even simple office tasks. Say you’re looking for someone to run your company’s social media accounts. You can assess the candidates’ skills through MS Office and Digital Literacy simulations to make sure they are well versed in these competencies. Through these assessment tests, you can better determine if a candidate truly has the skills needed to succeed.

Some of the benefits of implementing pre-employment simulation tests include:

  • Higher engagement. The recruiting process isn’t always easy and can even be quite stressful and/or dull. Through job simulations, candidates can experience what a day on the job is like and will get a better idea of what the role entails, increasing their level of understanding and engagement.
  • Better accuracy. Since job simulations test how a candidate would apply his or her skills to an actual work situation, they showcase how the candidate will perform in real life. The scores of a simulation test more accurately predict whether the candidate will be successful or not.
  • Increased objectivity. The task of recruiting is mostly subjective—candidates write resumes and cover letters in their own words, boasting about their skills, while recruiters read those resumes with their own personal preconceptions. Job simulations objectively evaluate how a candidate applies those skills to real work situations, reducing the level of bias toward a particular candidate.
  • Lower costs. If time is money, then the time spent recruiting, hiring, and training adds up. The cost multiplies when candidates don’t perform as expected and have to be replaced, making the recruiting process quite costly. Assessment and simulation tests save you money by helping you hire the right candidate the first time.
  • Workforce assessment. Job simulation tests are not just for pre-employment assessments. You can conduct employee evaluations that include job simulations to assess your current workforce’s skills and abilities. This can help you determine where extra training is needed.

Of course, as with most things, job simulations have a few downsides. Establishing job simulation testing in your company does incur a cost. It may be eventually offset by money saved from smarter hiring, but it still needs to be budgeted for. Candidates may also be nervous while taking the job simulation tests, which can affect their responses and inaccurately assess their abilities. Some candidates learn quickly on the job, so while their job simulation test scores may not be very high, they could still prove to be excellent employees who learn while doing.

They can’t replace a recruiter’s experience and judgment, but together with the information gleaned from a candidate’s resume, references, and the all-important interview, simulations can provide independent, objective data about current skills and abilities that can prove invaluable. In context with all of your other sources of information, it can make your decision clear.

Have you used job simulation testing as part of your recruiting process? Do you think it effectively helps assess a candidate’s skills and job potential?

Eric Friedman, Author

Eric FriedmanEric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eskill.com, or contact him on LinkedIn.


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Testing for Hard and Soft Skills

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When you’re looking for candidates to fill a position, it’s easy to see their technical skills—it’s all over their resumes in the projects they’ve worked on, their qualifications and experience. Few people write words like “integrity” and “prioritizing” on their resumes and even if they do, those words tend to be taken as filler words that don’t mean anything. But they do mean a lot. In fact, these soft skills are crucial when it comes to finding the right candidate.

Soft skills are the qualities that define a candidate as an individual and therefore as an employee. Sometimes called “people skills,” soft skills are subjective and include a person’s work ethic, time management skills, and ability to work in a team. These are skills that all employees should have in order to succeed. Depending on the job, some soft skills may be more important than others. For example, a candidate who will have to work on multiple projects at once should have the soft skills to be able to prioritize and meet deadlines. On the other hand, a candidate who will be working in a sales position should have soft skills of being outgoing, assertive, and self-confident.

Hard skills, on the other hand, are based on the experience and technical know-how. Hard skills cover the actual tasks that an employee is responsible for, like operating machinery, writing news articles, or using design software. For instance, a nurse’s hard skills include knowing how to check vital signs and administer first aid. An IT professional’s hard skills probably include application development and database administration.

One of the main differences between soft skills and hard skills is that hard skills are pretty easy to spot, since they’re usually clearly listed in a candidate’s resume. Hard skills are more tangible and objective than soft skills, so they’re easier to identify. Someone who lists “10 years of experience in graphic design” should have the hard skills associated with that job. Hard skills are not only easier to identify through a candidate’s list of experiences and education, they’re easier to test for as well. Through pre-employment testing you can find out if a candidate has the specific skills associated with a particular job.

Another difference between hard and soft skills has to do with an employer’s ability to offer training. While hard skills can be taught—an employee can take a workshop to learn how to use a specific type of software—soft skills are more innate and are not easily taught, since they’re subjective and strongly tied to a candidate’s personality. However, there are some ways to encourage soft skills—like reliability and a willingness to take risks—among employees. Through employee empowerment, engagement, and encouragement, employers can nurture a workplace environment that promotes soft skills.

So why should you look for candidates with both hard and soft skills? A candidate who has both sets of skills is a better-rounded person, and therefore is more likely to succeed at the job. Take the nurse mentioned above, who has the hard skills required for the job, like the medical training and know-how. But it’s the soft skills, like empathy and being a good listener, which can take that nurse from being average to being exceptional.

Although it can be tricky, it is possible to find out which candidates have the soft skills that will make them exceptional at the job. The interview stage is the perfect time to assess a candidate’s soft skills. A good interviewer should ask questions that shed light on the candidate’s personality traits and potential soft skills. Personality tests are also a tool to determine whether a candidate has the soft skills needed for a position.

What’s important to remember when thinking about hard skills vs. soft skills is how crucial each set is to the success of a given employee in the position you’re hiring for. Is a candidate with strong hard skills but weaker soft skills still going to do well at your company? Maybe the position doesn’t really require many soft skills, but the technical know-how an absolute must. In this case, you’re better off choosing the candidate with very strong hard skills. Just remember, a candidate with strong hard and soft skills can be a more valuable asset in the long run.

Eric Friedman, Author

Eric Friedman

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eskill.com, or contact him on LinkedIn.


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Web-Based Assessments and RecruitmentHow Web Technology Can Lead to HR Success

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The recruiting game is constantly changing, and knowing how to best use new and emerging technologies is the key these days to winning the game. Web and mobile technologies are great resources that can transform the recruiting process, especially when it comes to pre-employment assessments and interview screening. Replacing outdated assessment methods with web-based technologies can help you take your recruiting game to the next level.

Here are a few examples of how recruiters can apply web technologies to pre-employment testing, to improve their recruiting process:

  • Mobile testing. Mobile websites and apps are among the most game-changing technologies in the HR and recruiting world. By tapping into mobile resources, recruiters and candidates have access to information on the go, anywhere and anytime. This also applies to pre-employment testing. Mobile-based assessment applications offer candidates the convenience of completing tests on their smartphones whenever they want, while allowing recruiters to get the results faster.
  • Simulation testing. Through simulation testing, recruiters can test candidates in real work environments that simulate anything from the MS Office Suite (Word, Excel, PPT, Outlook) to web browsers and email providers. These tests can help recruiters assess how candidates work in real life: how they respond to problems and the extent of their knowledge of certain software. These tests are especially helpful when you’re hiring for positions that require specific skills that can be tested in a simulation, such as a customer service call center representative or a web designer.
  • Multitasking testing. Multitasking has increasingly become a necessity in the workplace. Most employees now wear many different hats and have to constantly switch gears to accomplish tasks as they arise. However, multitasking effectively takes skill. Testing a candidate’s ability to multitask without losing focus or sacrificing quality is crucial to finding the right person for your position. Recruiters can supply a multitasking scenario through a web-based assessment platform and evaluate how candidates manage it.
  • Video interviewing. Web technologies have made it easier than ever to conduct remote interviews with candidates. Skype, Google Plus Hangout, and FaceTime are just a few of the platforms recruiters can use to conduct effective interviews with candidates that live in a different city. It can also save time for all candidates if you have a video interview before asking them to come in person. In a preliminary video interview, recruiters can quickly assess candidates without spending too much time or having to set up a meeting space.

These web-based assessments provide a lot of benefits for recruiters, which make investing in the technology very worthwhile, such as:

  • Saving time and money. Assessing candidates remotely via web-based testing and interviews saves a significant amount of time and money. Pre-employment assessments help recruiters find the best candidates so there’s less time spent training them, since you know they come with all the necessary skills for the job. This saves money in terms of man-hours both before and after hiring.
  • Reduced turnover rates. When you find the right candidate for your position, you know it, and most of the time he or she knows it too. This means that once hired, candidates are more likely to stay at the job since they know what it really entails after having gone through simulation testing, for instance. HR managers also benefit of course, because a reduced turnover rate means fewer open positions and less time having to recruit for them.
  • Identify top talent. Every recruiter knows that their goal is not just to find candidates to fill jobs, but rather to find the best candidate to fill the right job. Identifying top talent is tricky, but pre-employment assessments can help recruiters find the candidates who truly excel in the skills that are needed for the job. Going beyond just reviewing a resume and conducting an interview, these web-based tests give recruiters almost instant access to the candidate’s actual skills and how they would apply them to the position.
  • Discover both hard and soft skills. A resume and a cover letter can only tell recruiters so much about a candidate. Through assessment testing and video interview screening, recruiters can learn more about a candidate, especially when it comes to soft skills like overall attitude, communication skills, leadership, work ethic, and multitasking abilities. These soft skills are vital for success in the workplace, and pre-employment assessments can help recruiters find them.

Have you implemented—or have you thought about implementing—any web-based assessment testing and interviewing in your recruiting process? Which pre-employment assessment practices have worked best for you?

About Eric Friedman, Author

Eric Friedman

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eSkill.com, or contact him on LinkedIn.


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