Assessing the Perfect Hire

By Jason Hamilton,

On the job hunt, experience matters.

Or, does it? Maybe not as much as many job seekers and hourly employers might think.

According to hourly hiring managers surveyed by hourly employment network Snagajob earlier this year, experience is not the No.1 trait that managers desire in a potential candidate. Instead, experience ranked third, behind schedule and a positive attitude, signaling that previous experience is still important, but it’s not the driving force of every hire.

In a job market with relatively high unemployment, one might think that it should be easy enough to find that perfect hourly candidate, someone who might possess a combination of a flexible schedule, a positive attitude and even previous experience. But, that hasn’t been the case, necessarily.

A Manpower survey released this spring showed that nearly half of U.S. employers reported difficulty filling positions. Some of the most difficult positions to fill are within the hourly workforce – sales representatives and drivers among them.

What can managers do to find the types of employees they desire with the skill set they need? One answer lies in assessments.

Assessments are screener questions asked as part of a candidate’s application process designed to give employers an indication of how a candidate will perform once they are hired. They also help to weed out unqualified candidates before they can even advance to the interview stage. Assessments can get to both the skills of the applicant and to the applicant’s behaviors that will impact their performance in specific working environments.

Think of it this way: an applicant who possesses strong math skills may do well as a cashier, but if that same applicant doesn’t have a service attitude or doesn’t work well in customer-service environments, that applicant may not be a fit for a job.

Applications deliver information about experience, availability and references, but only assessments can get to the applicant’s preferred working environment where he or she will be engaged, will excel and will stick around.

You might be wondering if adding assessment questions to your hiring process will make it too complicated. Nope, not a problem. Most online assessments are completed by job seekers in about 15 minutes. And frankly, if your prospective candidate isn’t willing to spend 15 minutes thinking specifically about joining your company, you probably don’t want them on your team, a screening tool in itself.

In addition to solving the big goal of landing right-fit employees, screening is a worthwhile endeavor in a number of measurable ways, according to the Aberdeen Group, a research company. Their data shows businesses using assessments during the application process experience:

  • 64% improvement in the quality of a hire
  • 28% higher employee engagement
  • 7% reduction in turnover rates
  • More than two times an improvement in cost per hire

The way we see it, you have two choices: Continue to use a general application that will tell you a person’s name, address and maybe years of experience. And be prepared that your odds of hiring the right person are probably against you  –  and you won’t know until you’ve rolled the dice and brought a candidate on board. Or, take the time to understand what a star employee is for your company, and by breaking out those qualities, you can then use assessment questions to identify your shining stars among job candidates. In this case, it’s as much your experience that matters – put your company knowledge to the test and use assessments to make better hires.

Now, previous experience does matter. 

Jason Hamilton is senior VP marketing for Snagajob, the largest hourly employment network for job seekers and employers and the only company to provide both sourcing and talent management solutions to the hourly industry. Contact him at

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