Screening for the job and Corporate Culture

Screening for applicants has become a lot more intensive. Employers are very mindful of a 'fit' for employees. Google, for example, have introduced a screening test which is now standard for all applicants. This is called a 'psychometric' test.

Because of the growing emphasis on workplace relationships, and the need to find people who are better suited to the workplace environment, these tests go beyond interviews and qualifications.

After a lot of testing, Google found that despite qualifications some people weren't as well suited to their workplace as others. One Google exec went so far as to describe the interview process as a 'lousy' way of assessing performance.

So they developed a whole new system for screening applicants.

This shows how conscious of the need for a 'fit' employers are becoming.

Basic screening

Multiple levels of screening aren't new. Aptitude tests, multiple interviews, and a culling process have become pretty common.

Irritating as they might seem to applicants, there's a reason for the extra screening.

Because of the introduction of things like KPIs and other measures of performance, employers try to start from a proven performance level for new staff. There's only one sure way to do that, and that's the screening tests.

(In some cases, employment agencies are also directly involved because they contract to provide staff which meet the criteria of the employer. This isn't a guessing game.)

On basic level the screening is all practical. Call centers, for example, have time and motion studies of applicants, using real call center scenarios. Customer service will have things like comprehension tests.

Generally speaking these tests are reliable indicators. They also show the job to the applicants, and give them a test drive of the work.

The bottom line is that to get the job you have to pass these screening tests.

Advanced screening

On the advanced level, things like psychometric tests are highly relevant to employers.

Google, for example, which has a very low turnover of staff, 4% per year, went looking for a test which would indicate personal characteristics. They came up with a 300 question test, which they applied to all staff. From that they derived their screening test.

The original test included things like 'Do you own a dog?'

Doesn't look too relevant to a job application. But Google's tests indicated that people who owned dogs had a work characteristic which made them well suited for their work, and working at Google.

The importance of the 'fit' is that all workplaces are different, and their corporate culture is different. In Google's case, they're so different, they've been throwing out conventional recruitment methodologies to get the right people in the right jobs.

This is a matter of literally fitting people in to a work environment. In advanced screening, it relates to both performance characteristics and personal character.

It's also a far more advanced approach, because there's no 'How To Manual' do this sort of test.

Ironically, there's a direct benefit for applicants, too. These tests are designed to find suitable people. But you can also look at whether the job suits the applicant.

Many people get jobs which make them miserable, and cause stress. Currently, workplace stress is a serious health issue, and depression is at epidemic levels.

Stress also creates stress in other people in the workplace. It's infectious, and does no good for anyone. Relationships suffer, people react to stress defensively, and the workplace can become a pretty grim place to be.

In a workplace like Google, expanding, with thousands of employees, you can see why this is a good idea.

When doing this kind of test, you're advised to be as honest as possible.

  • Answer all questions thoughtfully, and be aware of their meaning.
  • You're doing a 'fit' of your own here. Remember this testing is also in your interest.
  • Don't avoid issues raised by the questions.
  • Don't compromise on answers. This is about your preferences.
  • Be realistic about your preferences, and say what you really think.
  • There are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers.
  • The test is a straightforward thing. There's not really anything to get nervous about.

Advanced screening is becoming more commonplace. It actually represents a move from the interview/resume approach into a much better developed, less purely numbers-based approach to recruitment.

An encouraging sign: Google made a point of looking for talent, when it was developing its screening test.

That can only be good news for the many people who feel the conventional system doesn't, or can't, recognize their skills.