Let’s Get Married! Choosing the Right Assessment Partner
Choosing an assessment partner is a big decision that can lead to wedded bliss… or to court.
For businesses, choosing an assessment partner is a big decision. Although it’s only one part of your talent acquisition process, assessment delivers outsized impact…for better or for worse. When it goes well, assessment means you are using cutting edge talent science to attract and hire better performers, to improve workforce retention, and to accelerate your recruiting processes. When it goes wrong, though, it can cost organizations millions in litigation and brand equity.
Recently, for example, a UK-based business was ordered to pay compensation to a job seeker as a result of their assessment program. Although the fee was relatively small, the case also generated negative publicity about the organization and its hiring practices. These discussions about employment decisions and (in)appropriate uses of assessment can get quite heated, and both employers and their assessment partners can be subjects of unflattering public criticism in the media.
Choosing an assessment partner is a lot like choosing a life partner – it’s a big decision with long-term consequences. In both cases, there is an elaborate, months-long courtship process. Early in the relationship, impression management is spectacularly high. The prospective partner is always on their best behavior, well dressed, and early for your meetings. Invariably, they present an optimistic, idealized vision of what they have to offer and all that you will accomplish together. In HR technology, we often talk about “bright shiny objects” and how Enterprise buyers – who are only human, and who are working to solve real business issues by implementing better people practices using technology – can likewise be attracted to (or distracted by) a slick product demo with bold claims about future business impact.
In HR technology, as in life, nobody gets married after the first date or demo. So, more meetings happen, and more detailed information is shared by the prospective partner. In parallel, you google stalk them and comb through social media to see through the veneer and evaluate true “fit.” Sure, the attraction is there, and the future together sounds very exciting… but is this really the right partner for the company? Is there enough substance beneath the bright shiny exterior? It can be helpful at this stage to reference some outside standards, presentations, or advice on choosing an assessment partner.
Once you have enough information to make that big commitment (“well, we can always cancel after Year 1, anyway, right?”), and you get that proposal that just feels right – you jump in. You commit. You sign. You get married. And then things start to change.
Life After Commitment
Moving beyond courtship, now you have the stresses of an operational partnership, just like the new stresses of cohabitation with a life partner. You have roommate problems that come from sharing a home, a lot like having integrated technology platforms. You get annoyed by pet peeves like your partner inexplicably leaving the cupboard doors open, or not having buttons where you’d expect them to be in the product. And you may experience communication and support challenges that were never apparent when you were dating and had your partner’s complete and undivided attention and adoration.
But it’s still early days, and everyone is still working hard to make a good impression and to make the relationship work. We call this the “honeymoon period. During the first year, it is especially difficult to collect outcome metrics to examine the effectiveness of the implemented assessment program in actual practice. Without demonstrable business outcomes or local validation evidence, you may not know if the program is providing the outcomes you had hoped for. Early satisfaction with the partnership is often based primarily on internal admin users’ experience with the product and perceptions of the service levels received from the assessment partner during and after implementation. Unfortunately, none of these “perception” metrics can tell you if you have an effective, ethical, and legally compliant assessment program.
Choosing Substance for a Long Term & Healthy Relationship
Remember – you are a couple now, and the world is noticing. Once you get married and implement your assessment program, your partner is suddenly representing your brand. In public. At scale. Your assessment partner is now directly delivering HR technology and service experiences for your candidates, customers, and employees. Your partner is influencing people’s perceptions of your EVP and your brand with their UX, their assessment questions, their reporting, their registration process, their candidate technical support, and the overall perceived fairness, quality, and professionalism of the end-to-end integrated talent assessment and recruiting process.
Your assessment partner is with you in both good times and bad, in sickness and in health, until death – or the next RFP – do you part. Don’t get fooled by bright and shiny when substance (and a good sense of humor) is what makes relationships work long-term.