Perhaps the advantage of a bear market is the push it gives organizations to take inventory of their assets, not least of which is human capital. To do this, they use a wide range of sophisticated assessment tools that can highlight strengths and identify areas of professional development for their managers. However, research has told us that the typical interview – even when conducted by a well-trained professional – can only reveal a person’s leadership style (what they use when trying to influence others). Simulation-based assessments, on the other hand, can go a step further and determine a person’s thinking style, in other words how they make decisions “when the door is closed and when someone don’t try to impress someone else ”.
About the Author
Cheryl Buxton is Global Managing Director of Customer Services for Korn / Ferry International Inc. and is based in Princeton, NJ
However, when faced with “we would like you to do an assessment,” many executives face the prospect with some trepidation. After all, many people don’t like taking tests, especially when they’re designed in part to identify and highlight personal strengths and weaknesses. An algebra test only tells you how much algebra you know (or don’t know), but an assessment should identify and expose the insecurities and flaws you’ve tried to hide your entire career, right? Not exactly. Here are some recommendations from experienced executive recruiters who have helped thousands of professionals pass the assessment tests:
First, relax. Even CEOs can feel intimidated by the assessment process if they are in the final stages of being considered for a prestigious position. To alleviate this anxiety, remember that there are, in fact, no right or wrong answers. Advanced assessment methodologies use business case studies which are very difficult to play, so the most important thing is to be yourself and respond with candor and authenticity.
To prepare, allow plenty of time to take the assessment, which typically lasts 45 to 60 minutes and is conducted through an online survey, paper questionnaire, or, for some organizations, over the phone. Remember that, at the end of the day, the purpose of the assessment is to raise or clarify questions, rather than providing 100% foolproof answers about your abilities.
Once you’ve done your part and completed the assessment exercise, the administrator can walk you through the results, asking more questions to create a clearer picture of your true strengths and areas of development, such as : Does this sound familiar to you? When are you most likely to use this style? How did it help you? Does it ever bother you?
Be open to receiving feedback seeing it as a chance not only to learn more about yourself, but also to put your patterns of behavior into perspective and demonstrate a high degree of self-knowledge.
Help the assessor understand your own interpretation of the results as much as possible, using it to shed light on what you bring to the table and how you apply your unique style to a variety of situations. This is especially important if your evaluation scores are different from what the executive recruiter or hiring organization would have expected. In such cases, another interview can be arranged to address these areas of concern, or more targeted SEO can be done to infer if there is an underlying problem that may not have emerged initially. If all goes well, they will continue to move you forward through the process and may even recommend specific coaching once you are hired to fill in the gaps.
On their own, assessments are not sufficient to make hiring or career change decisions. However, when combined with all the information available about you, the data they provide is a great complement and can add an important dimension to understanding who you are. They can also offer another level of confidence that you will thrive in a new position. This process not only maximizes the organization’s investment in recruiting in top talent, but also helps you maximize your talent to perform best, even when markets are at their lowest.
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