How Do I Hire The Right People?

NOTE: First posted at the PM College blog.

We had a great webinar on project, leadership, and business skills. We got some great reviews and I hope you enjoy it. To check it out, you see/hear the recording here (registration required). In the next few posts, I’m going to cover the key questions that were asked during the webinar. I will start with one that got to the heart of the challenge:

Are there good assessment tools available for [looking at whether candidates have the right skills]? Especially for new hires. Would hate to make a bad hiring decision.

Absolutely…and it’s one of the most value investments you can make. As we mentioned in the webinar, we just looked at a study (quoted in this post) that notes that 80 percent of employee turnover is driven by bad hiring decisions. That same post goes on the highlight the cost per bad hire: two and one-half time the role’s salary. In other words, a bad $100K hire may well cost you $250K!

PM College has a tried-and-tested Competency Assessment Program that directly addresses this need. The program has three components: a multi-level project skills knowledge assessment, a personality and cognitive behavior assessment, and a multi-rater survey reviewing the current performance of project managers. In our experience, project management knowledge is a straightforward matter. If the assessment is used for hiring, it serves as a good initial yardstick. If it’s used for evaluating current colleagues, PM knowledge deficiencies should simply be development opportunities: most people can gain that knowledge.

However, the results of the behavioral and performance components are the most telling. Here’s an example. We are working with a client to implement a competency assessment program for new hires. Our client has products and customers that require absolute on-time delivery: a hour late is a crisis, a day late can be a national disaster.

The challenge was to hire project and program leaders who got this. Our client found plenty of candidates who looked good on paper, but didn’t demonstrate the required behaviors and performance when on projects. While I can’t discuss our client’s turnover rate, it compares to what we saw in that post linked above: they believe that nearly all the bad hires could’ve been prevented.

We’re early days on that engagement, but my experience with competency assessment programs strongly suggest we’ll deliver great value. Simply catching a single bad hire before the offer letter provides a huge payoff for the typical assessment initiative.

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