Using the Assessment without the Process

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 15, 2006 @ 07:09 AM

The bigger they are the harder they fall. We have a huge client that recently purchased a license to hire 100 salespeople. Historically, as many as 2000 candidates could be assessed as part of this process. 600 would probably be hirable and 200 would probably be interviewed.

The technology giant had mixed results when it comes to hiring salespeople, succeeding less than 50% of the time. Of course, being big, they think they know better than anyone else and decided to stick with their dysfunctional process, choosing to use our assessment and ignoring the proven, proprietary, world-class recruiting process that we provide with the assessment.

They assessed only 14 people. Their two inside candidates, both with solid track records, recorded the highest scores of the 14. They were very strong and met OMG's criteria for sales success at the specified experience level. However, they failed to meet the tech giant's tough new criteria.

They didn't understand why their recruiter's 14 candidates had failed. The recruiter said these were silver bullet candidates. How could the recruiter be wrong? Why weren't the two inside candidates recommended? They determined that the assessment must be inaccurate.

Are you kidding me?

The assessment accurately identified their top two candidates and they questioned the assessment? After a whopping sample size of 14? And they chose to stick by the recruiter who somehow managed to weed out 1,986 candidates prior to the 14 they assessed?

Here's what they should have done. They should have assessed all 2,000 candidates and not let a recruiter determine who should be included in the final pool of candidates. They were concerned about Adverse Impact, the 4/5ths rule, which says that protected minorities (non male, not Caucasian and age 40 and older)can't be adversely affected from either the hiring process or an assessment by more than 20%. Well guess what? If they already ruled out 1,986 candidates then they treated 99.6% equally and if they put that entire group through the assessment then they will still be treating them equally. In the end, this tech giant will do it the right way - our way - and successfully hire 100 strong salespeople. In the short term, there are great lessons here for everyone else.


  • If you hire experts don't dictate to them which parts of their solution you'll listen to;
  • Assessments by themselves aren't as helpful as assessments that come bundled with a recruiting process in which to use them;
  • Assess all of your candidates up front, the first step of the process. This yields 50% more hirable candidates then waiting until you have incorrectly identified the final pool of candidates;
  • Recruiters are sources for candidates, not experts at identifying the best ones;
  • If an assessment meets the 4/5ths rule, they help you comply, not hinder you;
  • 14 does not make a statistically significant sample size;
  • If you set a criteria that your candidates must meet, don't blame the assessment when they fail to meet it;
  • If what you're doing isn't working, listen to the experts instead of insisting that you continue to do what you've always done;
  • Somebody has to take charge and be responsible. In big companies they sometimes forget to do this as a means of protecting their bottoms;
  • It's not as complicated as companies try to make it. In baseball they say "see the ball, hit the ball". Here it's "attract the candidates, assess the candidates".

Topics: recruiting, assessment

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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