APPLICANT TESTS CAN WARD OFF HIRING DISASTERS
from The Providence Sunday Journal
An Employee Who Doesn't Work Out Can
Cost A Company Up To 10 Times His or Her Annual
When it comes to hiring a new employee, businesses
are advised to get it right the first time, or
it will cost them dearly.
"Poor matches can affect the well-being of
a corporation, as well as the bottom line,"
said Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney, a noted psychologist
who addresses management issues such as work behaviors,
motivation strategies and handling change in the
workplace [through her Professional
Recent data on the subject indicates that replacing
a worker making $17,000 a year may cost a company
up to three times that amount - $51,000 - Dr.
Gaffney said. The cost to replace a person making
$100,000 could be anywhere from 3 to 10 times
that amount - between $300,000 and $1 million.
There are costs associated with searches, temporary
help and loss of revenues while a slot is empty
or a new employee is in training.
In addition, "there is an impact on all the
other employees when someone is let go,"
Morale problems can also occur. There may be hard
feelings toward the company about how a firing
was handled, or why an employee decided to leave.
The remaining employees may have to work more
hours or face more stress in order to cover another
"Making the right decision the first time
is so important," Dr. Gaffney said.
EVERY JOB has certain tasks to be performed and
requires a certain type of temperament. The key
to good applicant selection is fitting the right
person into a job, Dr. Gaffney said.
"When a person is placed in the wrong job,
his or her stress level goes way up," she
said. Ultimately, the person quits, or is transferred
or fired, leading to company turmoil.
Today, there are software programs and other technological
tools for assessing not only a candidate's education
and experience for a job, but what kind of work
style he or she has, she said.
Responses to questions can lead candidates to
discover their work personalities, such as whether
they work best alone or in a group; are reserved
or outgoing in coworker interactions; and whether
they shy away from or thrive on job stress.
The new methodology
is based on old principles, going back to the
Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates, Dr.
Gaffney said. He believed that "you could
observe someone's behavior and make personality
judgments based on that," she said.
These "scientifically developed tests to
gauge the nuances of someone's behavior"
are very accurate, she said.
"Sometimes I think I should open a storefront
office and call it 'Better Than a Psychic,' because
that's how well these assessments
can measure someone's personal and work styles."
During her talks, Dr. Gaffney discusses testing,
as well as worksheets for figuring out the costs
associated with hiring and firing key employees.
TYPICALLY, GAFFNEY will help a company identify
the criteria for a job and select an appropriate
test. They can range from one test, lasting only
a few minutes, to a series of assessments.
She analyzes the results and reports back to the
company as to which candidates best fit the emotional
needs of that job.
"I had one client who was interviewing a
woman for a bookkeeping job. Testing showed that,
while she had a strong work personality, it wasn't
appropriate for that specific job. If she had
been hired, it would have been a disaster, yet
she would have been great for another position,"
Dr. Gaffney said.
Dr. Gaffney's role varies, based on her clients'
needs, she said. In a large corporation, such
as Fleet, she serves as a consultant. The bank's
human-resources personnel administer the tests
and make assessments, while she oversees the process.
Smaller companies rely on her to handle most of
the work needed for the assessments.
In some cases, companies have brought her in to
evaluate the skills and work profiles of current
employees, in anticipation of job restructuring
and other workplace changes. "They want to
see what work personalities they have and what
they will need in the future," Dr. Gaffney
Owners of small businesses also need help. Often,
they have to decide which parts of their growing
businesses they should still be directly involved
in, and which they should hand off to employees
or contractors. Often an assessment
of business skills and personalities "will
help someone adapt their behaviors as they put
on the different hats of their business,"
can even be used to determine how your personal
behavioral style will affect your golf game, Dr.