March 10, 2021

Jessica Haig

Wonderlic Select: Hire the Best at Every Step

Wonderlic Select: Hire the Best at Every Step
Jessica Haig

Pre-employment assessments like Select are known mostly for their ability to quickly screen out the candidates least likely to succeed early in the hiring process, and to then identify who to bring in for a first-round interview.

But assessments are also useful closer to the end of the selection process—as a tool to help determine who makes it to the final round of consideration, and who should be offered the job.

When there isn’t objective data handy at all these crossroads, the often unreliable information provided by resumes and interviews, and the ideas members of a hiring team have about what’s important for a role can win out, whether they’re actually predictive of success for the position or not.

And this very subjective and convoluted process can lead to making bad hires. (Raise your hand if you’ve been there.) ✋

Turning instead to the objective insights about cognitive ability, motivation, and personality provided by hiring assessments like Select offers companies a much more objective and trustworthy way to identify the candidates with the most potential to succeed in every position.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how Select can be used throughout the hiring process—in this case, to find the best candidate for a project manager position at a healthcare company.

Step 1: Eliminating the Very Unlikely to Succeed

In the first two weeks after this project manager role is advertised, the company—let’s call it HealthCo.—receives 45 applications, a pretty healthy number. At HealthCo, candidates need to take the Select assessment during their application process in order to be considered for the job.

After the first wave of applications comes in, HealthCo’s recruiting team whittles down this group of 45 significantly based on their Select results, even before reviewing resumes and cover letters.

(Because there’s a high volume of applications, they feel comfortable making big cuts early. If they’d only received 10 applications they might not do so.)

Scores under 50 indicate that a candidate is more likely than not going to be a poor fit for the position, so the team eliminates all candidates with sub-50 scores from contention—in this case, 25 applicants.

Now, without having to review a single resume or cover letter, the team has reduced the candidate pool to a much more manageable 20.

Step 2: Choosing Who to Bring in for a First-Round Interview

The hiring team has told recruiting that they’re free to interview three people this coming week, so recruiting’s goal is to identify the three most promising candidates from the group of 20.

After reviewing resumes and cover letters and conducting phone screens, they land on a group of seven that includes:

Four candidates who are currently project managers elsewhere, with credentials very close to what the job ad asked for (3+ years experience)

Two project managers with 1-2 years’ experience who have strong credentials and wrote cover letters that stood out

One unconventional but promising mid-career candidate who has been a managing editor at a magazine and an assistant director of a music festival who’s looking to make a move into project management in the corporate world

Without Select data, the recruiters might justify which three to bring in a variety of ways, based on informal company “best practices” and/or the criteria they value most. Maybe they bring in one from each group for balance. Or only those with 3+ years’ experience. Or only those who made the best phone screen impression and have the most experience.

With Select data, however, HealthCo’s recruiters are able to make a much more informed, data-driven choice.

Here’s just one of many scenarios that could play out.

Say the seven phone-screened candidates had Select that broke down like this:

Looking at this view only, recruiting decides to definitely bring in Xaayow, considering he was the only candidate to fall into the Strong Fit category.

(In Select there are four scoring levels: 75-100 = Strong Fit, 50-74 = Moderate Fit, 25-49 = Cautionary Fit, 0-24 = Weak Fit.)

Considering Xaayow is the aforementioned unconventional candidate, recruiting could have easily dismissed him without this extra layer of insight into his potential; this confirms that he’s worth giving a chance.

Choosing two others from the remaining group requires a little more digging since they all had scores indicating “Moderate Fit”. In other words, though their underlying strengths vary a little, they’re in the same category overall.

To look more closely at the individual cognitive ability, motivation, and personality scores that combined to create the overall score, the teams uses Select’s “compare candidates” feature:

Now, with this added level of detail, recruiting decides to pass on the candidates that had very low dependability scores —Liberty, Gerard and Allvince—and decides to bring in Rebecca who was a strong or moderate fit in all three categories.

This leaves Elm and Dolores, who have very similar scores in every category. Because Dolores has more direct experience and offered clearer examples of how her skills apply to the job during the phone screen, they decide to bring her in first…and wait on bringing in Elm until later, if needed.

In short, by comparing Select ‘s objective insights about stable traits and abilities against the more surface-level resume, cover letter and phone screen information they’ve accumulated so far, recruiting can decide who to bring in more quickly and confidently.

Step 3: Deciding Who to Bring Back for a Final-Round Interview

It’s now four weeks after the job opening was first advertised, six people have been interviewed, and the hiring team wants to bring back three for a final round interview. These interviews will include Tom, the company’s SVP of Sales and Strategy.

The group agrees on two of the candidates to push through, and two to pass on.

However, they have vastly different feelings about the remaining two candidates—Xaayow and Rebecca. Half have Xaayow as their top overall choice and wouldn’t even put Rebecca in their top three; the other half of the team has Rebecca as their top choice and wouldn’t put Xaayow in their top three. And now they’re stuck.

Instead of relying only on further discussions of everyone’s impressions, or just letting the person with the loudest voice or most seniority break the tie, here’s where the team could decide to look even more closely at the components of their scores.  

This time they look at the data in light of the new information gleaned from the interview process: 

In this case, one of the things Team Rebecca loved about her interview performance was how composed and unflappable she seemed; but a closer look at her Stress Tolerance score compared to Xaayow’s suggests that in the trenches long-term she’s likely to be more excitable in stressful situations.

Also, one of Team Rebecca’s main knocks against Xaayow is that he seemed awkward by comparison and blanked when it came to telling a story about working well with others; however, his perfect Stress Tolerance and Cooperation scores could be pointed to as reasons not to weigh his interview nerves and his whiff on a particular question too highly. With this added layer of insight, Team Xaayow’s case becomes stronger—and the team pushes him through.

Step 4: Deciding Who to Make the Offer To

The final three interviews happen, with Tom the SVP in tow. And now it’s come down to our friend, unconventional candidate Xaayow, and a more traditional candidate from the second wave of first-round interviews— a woman named Erihapeti.

Tom and the hiring manager ask the group what’s preferable: a candidate with a lot of impressive related experience and the potential to be a world-beater (Xaayow), or a clearly competent, and, yes, safer, candidate with more closely-aligned experience (Erihapeti).  

At this point, again, the team could go with a simple vote after a final discussion—and that may be enough to come to a consensus. But before voting, the team would be wise to look at Xaayow and Erihapeti’s results one last time. One area of difference that stands out this time are their motivation scores: 

Erihapeti’s score:

Xaayow’s score:

Since Enterprising Interests is the top motivator for this profile, it’s notable that Erihapeti scored in the cautionary fit category, while Xaayow scored in the moderate fit category. And in the next most important category (Traditional Interests) Xaayow scored in the Strong Fit category, while Erihapeti got the lowest score possible.  

This indicates that Xaayow is more likely to enjoy work that demands a high degree of professionalism, enables him to make important decisions, and focuses on managing projects; it also indicates that he prefers work that is structured, requires organization, and adheres to specific, consistent standards. 

That Erihapeti scored lower doesn’t mean she’s not capable of meeting the job’s requirements. But it does indicate that doing many of the tasks highly valued for this role aren’t likely what gets her out of bed in the morning; therefore, she’s more likely than Xaayow to put off tasks that require these qualities or behaviors.  

With this extra layer of information, a hiring team could still go either way, depending on their willingness to train up a candidate or not. In this case, HealthCo decides that hiring Xaayow is a calculated risk they’re willing to make; his great potential to succeed with a little training overshadows his lack of direct experience in the field.  And because of the careful way they used both objective data and the usual information that comes from resumes and interviews, the team feels confident that they’ve made the most informed choice possible.

This is just one of countless use cases, of course…and likely more involved than most. At your company the hiring process may involve fewer rounds. Or you might use Select less broadly—primary as a screen out tool, and only in situations where the usual methods aren’t turning up a clear winner.

Whatever your needs and processes are, hopefully this gives you a sense of the many ways Select can cut through the fog of subjectivity—and help you identify the candidates with the most potential to succeed—and those who are more shine than substance.

To see how Select could help with your company’s common hiring situations, reach out for a demo, and we’ll happily walk you through it.

About the Author: Jessica Haig is a Senior Manager of Consulting here at Wonderlic.

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