24 October 2016
More and more South African businesses and government institutions are reaping the longstanding financial, procurement and other benefits associated with conducting background screening checks to prevent employing candidates with false credentials. Over the last five years alone, Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), as the largest and most well-established background screening company in Southern Africa, noted an 11% increase in the demand for background screening services. However, the need to assess whether candidates are the right fit for the job – from a procurement, recruitment, talent acquisition, succession planning or HR point of view – is becoming all the more prevalent.
This is according to MIE’s Director and CEO, Ina van der Merwe, who further notes that, “Unlike aspects such as education, skills, experience, appearance and punctuality, the behavioural traits, personality and competence of a candidate can be much more difficult to ascertain during an interview. An interview process can be fairly subjective and although employers will normally assess skills and experience fairly accurately, much is still left to first impressions and internal instinct regarding aligned values.
“That’s why psychometric assessments have such an important role to play in the overall recruitment and screening process. Not only do they provide an objective view of one’s strengths and development areas, but they also quantify a person’s current and potential skills and capabilities. All of this can then be aligned to job requirements and organisational strategies,” she adds.
This is further amplified by the fact that if recruiters and HR specialists want to align the right companies with the perfect candidates, they need to extend their selection criteria and methods beyond credit, qualification or criminal record checks. By extending this process to deeper levels, they would gain access to a pool of candidates who potentially have less experience or lack the exact qualifications stipulated, but who in turn possess a unique set of innate skills, integrity and learning potential.
“The right process and correct battery of psychometric and competency-based tests have a higher probability of leading to a great hire, thereby empowering decision-making and removing the guesswork,” she says. “Ideally, an organisation needs to select an assessment partner who provides a holistic solution, based on best practise methodologies, with knowledge and experience in the South African job environment.”
For employers, psychometric testing could help to employ job applicants with high levels of integrity, predict the future performance of a candidate and hopefully improve employee retention by making successful hiring decisions. It is essential for an organisation to ensure a good fit that will allow for employees to be efficient and productive. Formal education and past experience will not always provide a clear, up-to-date assessment of personal skills. However, psychometric assessments can, for example, help provide a better, more realistic and current view of a candidate’s abilities than a formal certificate of education.
For van der Merwe, and in light of corruption in the business environment, it makes sense for organisations to employ applicants who score high in the areas of integrity and honesty. “We just have to look at the media to be made aware of the risk of fraud and corruption in organisations. And while many will think it won’t happen to them, they should rather be implementing strong selection and retention policies to minimise this risk,” she emphasises.
“MIE has access to a wide range of nationally and internationally developed assessment tools, which are specifically aligned to South Africa’s job market and tailored to be affordable for local businesses. With the means to measure competence and job-fit, we also focus on the individual from a holistic perspective such as cognitive ability, personality characteristics, leadership styles and role-specific skills.”
Assessments can also have further measurable return on investment. Once a selection is made, assessment results can be put to further use. For example, Personal Development Plans can be implemented, knowing who employees are and what motivates them. Results can also inform training requirements that are specific to individual needs, thereby assisting in optimising learning and development strategies.
“Companies who have incorporated psychometric and competency based assessment into their applicant vetting and selection have seen vast improvements in their recruitment decisions,” concludes van der Merwe.