Career tests are an outdated system lost in time.
Have you ever really considered the science behind careers tests and how accurate they are when used as a screening tool? According to SHL’s Global Assessment Trends Report, over 76% of companies with more than 100 employees rely on some kind of assessment tool to make hiring decisions.
Global estimates suggest that tests are used for 59% of entry-level roles, 72% of middle-management positions and 80% of senior appointments. So the higher up the ranks, the more likely an employer is to reach for career assessments to identify the “right” traits.
Many job portals are also including career tests as a prescreening tool. Employers set specific criteria that gets loaded with their job ad. All applicants must complete the test and are then either eliminated or moved on in the application process. Potential candidates get declined before anyone has had an opportunity to view their CV or engage with them.
How many employers are losing top talent because of this growing trend?
Why is the career test system flawed?
Career tests measure aptitude or intelligence, and that’s their limitation. They can identify skills and experience, but they can't go further than that, and doing great work depends on more than just skill. A career test is a static opinion of someone on the day that they did the assessment.
It's a static snapshot of a complex human.
Someone can complete a test today and then again in a month, and the results could differ substantially. That’s because career tests don’t consider attitudes and motivations.
Time-urgency and stress can skew results.
Also, most tests are timed, so that puts pressure on the user. The intention of timing to discourage people from overthinking their answers, but few users realize that. Instead, they feel the pressure of time-urgency.
Users can feel they’re being judged as well, so they often want to give the “right” answer because there’s no leeway or second chance. Under these circumstances, both attitude and motivation can be affected, leading to the results being skewed by stress.
A better alternative:
Michelle Duval, founder and CEO of F4S, explains that, in reality, attitudes and motivations impact career success more than talents, aptitude and experience. This stark revelation comes from a 20-year study of high performance leaders and their teams.
Apart from founding F4S, Michelle is a highly renowned transformational and developmental coach to international entrepreneurs and business owners. As she worked with her clients, she started noticing patterns emerging that distinguished those who succeeded from those who failed.
This led to a hypothesis that Michelle scientifically tested using 20 years of accumulated data to determine how people’s attitudes and motivations influence career and business outcomes. And so F4S was born.
The danger of hiring for aptitude only
Apart from the fact that career tests can be misrepresented, just because we’re inclined to something doesn’t mean that we want to do it every day. I’ve seen this regularly throughout my HR career.
Take this scenario:
A typical example is people who have a high aptitude for working with numbers.
When they see this result in a career test, they automatically think that they’re destined for a profession in accounting or finance. After all, they do enjoy working with numbers and are good at it too.
A huge problem arises, however, if they’re motivated by variety in their job. Accounting and finance jobs are often high in routine, consistency and stability. At F4S we call this “Sameness”.
If someone scores low on Sameness, they could easily find a routine job starts becoming monotonous very quickly. Generally, this will lead to one of two things.
- They’ll begin to job-hop for a challenge (i.e. they get excited by taking on a new venture, but it becomes boring once it’s been mastered, so they move on again). Job-hopping too frequently typically isn’t good for anyone’s CV or career.
- Alternately, they sit it out and suppress their motivation for variety. But their job becomes a drag; they don’t really enjoy going to work. And although they might perform well, they pay a high price in the amount of stress they absorb to stay motivated.
Often people don’t realize this; they trudge on because they believe they’re in the right career. Someone who’s slogging through the day is unlikely to meet their career goals.
F4S calls this a blind spot. Something that we’re unaware of until we’re made aware of it. The great thing with any issue that we don’t realize is that once we know, we can take proactive action.
The danger of ignoring motivations and blind spots
Being able to uncover blind spots is also an excellent opportunity for organizations to develop talent rather than losing great employees. In the above scenario, the employee will probably resign within a year. Or, their demotivation can lead to conflict and even disciplinary action.
That means an unhappy team environment and an unhappy employee. Not good for business!
By embracing an employee’s high aptitude (in this case for numbers) and also recognizing their motivational need for variety, employers can utilize both positives. Job responsibilities can be adapted, or the person can be transferred to another department.
A move from finance to marketing, for example, means that you’ve got someone who understands the importance of numbers but still gets that variety they need to stay motivated.
Suddenly what looked like a lousy hire became an excellent hire.
The workplace is evolving rapidly
Previously, career tests were reasonably helpful because the workplace was relatively stable, and jobs didn’t change much. Job responsibilities were different only if someone was promoted or transferred. But that’s changed radically over the past 25-odd years.
Technology has revolutionized business and jobs have had to adapt. The career lattice has replaced the career ladder. Previously an employee started in an entry-level position and worked their way up a predictable path towards their career goal.
Now, people move between careers and departments as the company evolves. Innovation and motivation are the reasons for upskilling employees rather than a degree or skill they chose after school.
Employers have started realizing the value of diverse skillsets and experience across departments and business sectors. Employees are selecting to stick with companies that offer ongoing training, upskill their staff and appreciate creativity and involvement. They want to be part of the business; not a number on the payroll.
Career tests haven’t evolved
Most career tests are based on models developed decades ago. They weren’t created for today’s workplace. Not only has the way we work changed, but psychology and the understanding of human behaviors have too.
The IQ Test
Look at the intelligence quotient measure or IQ test. Developed in 1912, the IQ test was gospel for decades and children and adults were sorted and rated like commodities by how well they scored.
Those who didn’t score well were allocated to the slow-learners class and pushed into mundane careers. Those who excelled were given genius status and groomed for career success.
Over time, though, psychologists realized that many people with high IQ’s didn’t fare well in life, while others with an average to mediocre scores excelled. They realized that there must be more to human ability. Enter the emotional quotient or EQ.
The EQ test
EQ first appeared in mainstream psychology in 1964 and by the mid1990s tests to measure EQ came onto the market. Still, the combined results of IQ and EQ tests were missing something because the realities of human behavior in the workplace didn’t measure up to the predictions. Enter spiritual intelligence.
The Spiritual Intelligence test
Spiritual intelligence first appeared in 1997 is a book written by Danah Zohar titled “ReWiring the Corporate Brain”. Measuring spiritual intelligence in the workplace is mostly incorporated with motivational training and awareness training in the workplace. Measures have become available in the past decade, but they’re still subject to research and refinement.
So what’s the significance of these measures when considering career tests? It took almost five decades for the IQ test to be dethroned as the ultimo when measuring peoples’ ability. And another three decades for business to wake up to the fact that academic intelligence wasn’t the only predictor of future success.
Twenty-five years on, and businesses are still debating the role of spiritual intelligence in successful employees and leaders.
Career testing methods are horribly outdated.
We need a change in mindset
Because the standard careers tests have been doing the rounds for so long, few people question their validity. Despite the fact that they keep hiring the “perfect” candidate who doesn’t last more than a few months, time and again.
And how many professionals have been a text-book fit for a vacancy only to find themselves eyeing a way out after a few weeks.
Often after a few failed attempts at career success, people start doubting themselves. They start searching “test to see what career is best for me” and complete one (or a few) of the free career tests available online.
They’re left no wiser than before. They still can’t figure out why they can’t get their career off the ground. They lack the understanding that can be provided through career coaching. The key obstacle here is that not everyone can afford a career coach.
Technology has changed that, though. Coaching no longer has to be a face-to-face session. F4S not only measures your attitude and motivations, but it also offers recommendations and personalized coaching to help you achieve your career goals. The same benefits are available to employers.
By using the F4S app, they can:
- optimize teams by understanding individual motivations and work together,
- bring out the best attributes in each team member,
- measure and map out organizational culture,
- spot and address potential friction points that could create team conflict,
- identify critical blind spots in the team that should be addressed through coaching or an additional hire, and more.
“Today we’re hiring for newly developed roles that have no defined skillsets,” says Michelle of F4S. “There’s no tried and tested job description to guarantee success. Employers have to hire based on motivations only.”
For HR professionals and recruiters who’ve been using career and skills tests to guide their recruitment, this change in approach could be a hard sell to hiring managers. The interactive approach of the F4S app won’t seem out-of-place for long, though.
Once hiring managers see how effectively they can rapidly develop high performing teams in the fast-paced world of business, they’ll be sold.
What we should learn from this
The world has just been thrown a tragic curved ball that will result in the world as we knew it never being the same. People will change, attitudes will change, and business will have to adapt to a new normal. The ‘future of work’ was literally forced upon us faster than any of us expected.
COVID-19 will leave an imprint on the world that’s probably comparable only to the after-effects of major wars. In every instance stability and prosperity returned, but things were done very differently afterwards.
The most important factors that will impact businesses that survive this global pandemic is that technology is going to play an even more significant role than ever before. The fourth industrial revolution will speed up. More employees will work from home, and remote teams will become the norm.
Add this to the rapidly developing AI that makes so many jobs redundant and we can be sure that the fabric of work as we know it will continue to deconstruct and be rebuilt repeatedly throughout our lifetimes.
Here are just a few of the changes we can expect in the future of work:
- Skills shortages will increase, and employers will have to look beyond their borders for talent to meet their requirements.
- Workplace diversity will become a priority, including hiring for cognitive diversity.
- Hiring for aptitude and cultural fit will become obsolete.
- Businesses will need to come up with creative team building activities that can be done remotely.
Never before has hiring for attitude and motivation been more crucial. Behind the technological advances, though, you still need talent with the soft skills to adapt and keep growing your business. Entrepreneurs and C-suite executives should already be planning their talent acquisition needs for the post-Novel Coronavirus business environment of the future.
F4S is scientifically tested and backed with 20-years of research data to identify personal motivators that will ensure that you make the right hiring decisions.
In trying times of change, businesses need the assurance that they’re not making costly mistakes. A snapshot of a person’s abilities isn’t enough anymore.