Why It’s Important to Assess Candidates Across Multiple Dimensions

People are complicated. So complicated, in fact, that entire fields of study are dedicated to understanding human psychology and behavior. When it comes to behavior within the context of the workplace, I/O psychology (also known as Industrial and Organizational psychology) is a specialty that seeks to understand how people act and behave within organizations.

Research in this area helps organizations build better teams, heighten their strengths, and work on their weaknesses. And it’s especially critical for the hiring process because any hiring decision poses a prediction problem. The hiring manager needs to predict which candidate is most likely to exhibit the behaviors that lead to success in a particular role.

The Role of Evidence-Based Hiring

We firmly believe that the best way to make stronger hiring decisions is through evidence-based hiring. An evidence-based hiring process incorporates the factors that are the most predictive of job outcomes. It’s called “evidence-based” because it is based on the evidence compiled from extensive research in I/O psychology.

This evidence is used to scientifically determine which factors are more likely to predict job performance than others. The goal is to build a hiring process that incorporates more predictive factors and weights these factors more heavily. This process leads to better hiring outcomes, including better job performance and higher retention.

The research tells us that certain qualities are better at predicting job success than others. For example, cognitive aptitude is one of the best predictors of ultimate job performance because it encompasses qualities like the ability to learn quickly and adapt new information, something that is universally advantageous when approaching a job. Other qualities are also significant predictors of success – for example, emotional intelligence and personality traits like conscientiousness and goal-orientation.

Conversely, there is an abundance of research demonstrating that traditional hiring elements, such as resumes and interviews, can lead to biased decision-making. Giving these too much weight in your hiring decision can lead to less optimal results. That doesn’t mean that resumes and interviews should be discarded entirely, but rather that they should be supplemented with other evidence-based elements, providing you with more information to make a better decision.

When it comes to pre-employment assessments, there is an assessment out there that can test for just about any quality under the sun. Some are more predictive than others. When making a hiring decision, your goal is to gather as much information that you can to make a more informed decision that will lead to a good outcome, and this typically means using more than one assessment to quantify different qualities within your candidates.

A Multidimensional Approach

We call this a multidimensional approach to assessments. To gain a clearer picture of candidate potential, we recommend assessing your candidate pool across multiple dimensions. What this does is it provides your hiring team with more information to make a stronger hiring decision, without taking the decision out of your hands.

What does this look like in practice? Typically this means giving a candidate two or three assessments that span a breadth of different qualities. For example, combining a cognitive aptitude assessment, a personality assessment, and an emotional intelligence assessment in order to understand each candidate on a deeper level. The exact combination of assessments that you select ultimately comes down to the requirements of the job itself, but typically you will want to assess your candidates on more than one dimension.

There’s no silver bullet, or a simple box to check when it comes to hiring the right person. Multiple factors should be considered, and ultimately the final decision lies in the hands of your hiring team.