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Talent Selection ALTERNATIVE Tools

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If the results from unstructured interviewing are poor, why is it so commonly used as the primary talent selection tool? One possible cause is the lack of awareness of other options in terms of talent selection tools. Let us briefly examine some of these alternative tools.


Written Assessment or Test

A written assessment or test can be a useful to test a candidate’s communication skills and thought processes under the pressure of time. The candidate must be able to accurately interpret the question and effectively communicate in writing his point of view. Written tests are also commonly used to determine if a candidate has the required knowledge for the job.


Case Studies

Often candidates will be presented with background documents and questions in advance. Candidates are then given a short amount of time to digest the materials and come up with responses, recommendations or solutions before presenting them. The aim of the case study is to test the potential hire’s ability to construct a convincing response to a difficult and unfamiliar problem. Case studies are good tools to assess the candidate’s ability to assimilate new and large amount of information, data analysis, critical thinking and problem solving skills.


Personality Profiling

Personality profiling often referred to as psychometric testing or psychological profiling is used to measure an individual’s personality in a specific situation. It is primarily used to understand traits, characteristics or behaviour and not aptitude or ability. It provides insights into the preferred behaviour which they are ‘comfortable’ with and can sustain for long periods of time.

It also provides a starting point or compass to get the best out of a most expensive and valuable resource. It can help to avoid hiring a sales executive who is inherently introverted and uncomfortable with people.


Demonstration or Presentation

Surprisingly job candidates are seldom asked to demonstrate their ability to perform job essential skill sets during the selection process. For example if you are hiring chefs you would get far more valuable information by asking them to cook a few simple dishes with limited time and ingredients, rather than spend an hour interviewing them on how they spent their practical training.


Role Play

For jobs that require competencies in customer centricity, coaching, delegation, building partnerships, decision making, verbal communication, assertiveness and your ability to put forward a persuasive case, role play is an excellent tool to use during the selection process. Role plays can be quite stressful, partly because the candidate has little idea of what to expect.

The candidate will be asked to share some information with someone who will be playing the role of a customer or a work colleague.  In most cases the information that needs to be shared is not positive and quite likely to generate a negative response from the person who will receive the information.  This provides the opportunity for the candidate to display their skill in handling these delicate situations tactfully but effectively.


In-Tray Exercise

During the exercise, candidates are asked to assume a particular role and given a set of documents and a calendar of a fictitious superior. The candidate would then be asked to prioritise and take appropriate actions relating to the documents and the calendar.

In-tray exercises asses a candidate’s ability to sort through, take in and analyse complex information.  It can also be used to measure competencies in exploring and identifying key issues, prioritising work, communicating effectively decisions made and identifying any special problems or issues that arise from the set of tasks and documents given.


For very critical and senior positions, organisations may choose to use an assessment centre to maximise reliability and reduce the risk of costly poor hiring decisions.



About the Authors:

Sim Bock San

Sim has more than 20 years’ experience in Leadership and Talent Assessment, Needs Analysis, Training and Development using Assessment Centre (AC) methodology, Simulations, Competency Based Interviewing tools and approaches.  He has extensive experience and exposure in the field of human performance, developing and implementing human resource development systems for local and global MNCs including some of the leading Fortune 500 companies.

Sim is a DDI-certified Master Trainer for Targeted Selection (Selection and Assessment), Skills for an Empowered Workforce (Leadership Development and Workforce Effectiveness Training) and Maximizing Performance (Performance Management). He is the co-author of 3 publications and articles on topics such as Recruitment & Selection, Performance Management, Leadership Bench-marking and has presented similar topics at several conferences and seminars, locally and regionally. Sim holds a B.Commerce (with a double major in Finance & Economics) from the University of Toronto, Canada.

For enquiries, please email Sim at sim@simconsulting.biz


Nasser Bin Ismail

The former Senior Vice President of Strategic Communications at the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA). He was one of the pioneer member responsible for setting up the IRDA Strategic Communications Division.

He has 15 years of extensive experience in the communication profession.  As a firm believer in “every manager is a HR manager”,  he is a trained CBI interviewer and Performance Management System (PMS) practitioner with experience in its implementation in both the private and public sector. As a member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), he sits on the board of the Malaysian chapter of the IABC

Nasser Ismail is an economics graduate of the London School of Economics and also holds a Master’s Degree in International Business.

For enquiries, please email Nasser at nasser@nasserismail.com


All editorial content are owned by respective intellectual property owners and are protected by applicable copyright laws.  Re-use of any part of the content for commercial purposes without permission is strictly prohibited.  © 2015, Monde Journal.

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