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Assessing Assessments as Part of the Hiring Process

By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports

Every Spring when it comes time to evaluate future NFL stars in the draft, there is plenty of discussion surrounding the Wonderlic Test.  Many think there is value, hence it is still administered.  Others give it no credence.  Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw scored a 16; Ryan Fitzpatrick and Greg McElroy scored 48 (out of 50).  The scouts, coaches, general managers, and owners use this test in addition to many other assessments, interviews, and film to evaluate their talent.  Sometimes it works, other times it is an abject failure.

On the business side of sports, when it comes to talent acquisition, we have seen our past and present clients utilize everything from Myers-Briggs to TriMetrix to the Predictive Index to the Caliper Test.  Some have used these tools at the beginning of the process, before interviews take place; others have used these tools after the entire process is complete and right before an offer is extended (or depending on the results, not extended).  The beauty of where we are positioned allows us to be Switzerland in not suggesting nor discouraging the use of these assessments.  However, one thing is for sure – employers are often using these and other tests to better understand the candidate they intend to hire not as an exclusionary tool in eliminating someone from contention.

I’ll admit, many years ago I had a client that always utilized the Caliper Test to present the client with a profile on the candidate’s key traits, personality, style, motivation, and leadership potential – and, I wasn’t too fond of it.  In theory, I thought it was a worthwhile tool.  But for one particular search, we had an executive whom we recommended to our client after we conducted multiple interviews and did adequate checking of their credentials. That person went in for a full-day, 8-hour set of formal and informal interviews; reference and background checks were clear.  Everyone was on board with this candidate.  That person checked every box.  Then it came time for the Caliper Test – everything prior, all of the work done to vet this candidate was for naught and an offer was not made because the results from that test were not to the client’s liking.  For that same client, several years later, I had a candidate who randomly filled out the answers to the test without reading the questions, and finished the test in record time, because that person thought it was a waste of their time.

These tools do, in fact, have a tremendous amount of value.  Both parties should take them seriously but keep in mind their place in the evaluation process.  For employers, there is danger in using them as the sole determining factor in making a hire (remember, there are good test-takers and bad test-takers).  If there is too much emphasis placed on a single test to evaluate whether a candidate is right for your organization, you are letting it trump the initial opinion of a candidate you have spoken with or met.  A bar graph, scale, grade, or any other purely quantitative assessment should not be used as a true judgement of someone’s talent. For candidates, take these assessments when you have adequate, quiet time and while it is recommended to not take these too lightly, do not overthink your answers or simply answer based on what you believe the employer is looking for.

As Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. brings more than 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He initially joined Prodigy Sports in early 2015 as Director, Recruiting before being promoted in 2016. Gress’ experience in the industry has brought him success in filling positions for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, World Rowing Championships, USA Curling, USA Table Tennis, USA Taekwondo, and many more.

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

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Megan Meisse

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