Are you being led astray during the hiring process?
Hopefully not intentionally. But let’s face it, people only want you to see their positive side, even if it’s not an accurate picture of who they really are. For this reason, it’s important to make sure any hiring assessment you use has “control questions” embedded in it.
It amazes me what people will infer or lead you to believe, particularly when interviewing for a job. As you’ve probably discovered, most job candidates are on their best behavior during an interview. Many will even hire a coach or prepare their answers in advance, whether accurate or not, based on research they’ve done online about common interview questions.
If you don’t believe me, just do a Google search on “how to ace an interview”… there are 30.5 million links!
It’s no different when having candidates take hiring assessments. People often think they can answer the questions based on what they think will get them the job rather than on how they truly feel or act. They are used to thinking they can answer assessment questions without any accountability, which is exactly why control questions are so important.
What exactly are control questions?
In hiring assessments, control questions help to establish a baseline and are used to indicate the candidate’s willingness to be objective with you. If they respond to a control question such as “Even when exhausted, I function as well as I do when well rested” with an answer of “somewhat agree / somewhat disagree,” the test knows that they aren’t being totally objective. Control questions are absolutes.
I assure you, if they aren’t objective with you during the hiring process, you will very likely run into issues with objectivity once you bring them onboard.
Behavioral expert William Winslow succinctly sums up the impact of “objectivity” and “accuracy” in the Winslow Assessment, particularly in the context of a job interview: “We are not looking for perfection, simply objectivity and accuracy from candidates so [we] can make hiring decisions that will work well for everyone.“
In the Winslow Assessment, the two sets of control questions mentioned above are:
- Objectivity – ten super-human things we all like to say we do, but don’t, or negative things we all have done (at least once), but don’t necessarily like to admit. During the hiring assessment process, we want people to be as objective as possible so you can make hiring decisions around real behaviors, not simply based on what a candidate wants you to believe or thinks you want to hear.
- Accuracy – ten really foolish statements, e.g. “The youngest manager I know is 85 years old.” We want to ensure that people are actually paying attention to the assessment, not simply ticking the boxes as they speed through.
Please note, these control questions have no impact on assessment results; they are purely there to measure objectivity and accuracy in the process.
I make my point by sharing my experience with helping an IT candidate complete his Winslow Assessment after he tripped the objectivity control feature.
The example statement I used from the assessment read, “I have successfully completed every project I ever started.” Possible answers:
Agree * Slightly Agree * Slightly Disagree * Disagree
“But I have finished every project I ever started… Ask my wife, she’s sitting right here,” said the candidate when I gave him this example.
Inconspicuously shaking my head, I tactfully responded, “Really? Successfully finished every single project you ever started? Not just some of them or most of them, but EVERY single one? Again —successfully?”
He never corrected himself, owned up to merely being human, or completed the assessment. (So there went his bragging rights about “successfully finishing every project”!)
Can you imagine having this person in your company when you ask him to redo something, correct an oversight, or complete something that he considers “finished”? You will constantly have to argue with and convince him to do what you ask, which is annoying and counterproductive.
In closing, make sure the assessment you are using includes control questions (some don’t), and you will gain the objective information needed to help you in your hiring and workforce planning decisions.
If you have questions or comments about assessments in general or would like to learn more about Winslow Assessments, please start a discussion below.