CorporateCoach eNewsletter

Issue No. 74, 11th October 2004


  1. Editorial: Love strategy
  2. Coaching notes: Hiring tests – where to start

1.     Editorial: Love strategy

Richard Winfield - editor and principal consultantI have been thinking about love!

I first came across the love strategy with Anthony Robbins at his first UK Unleash the Power Within seminar many years ago. Then it appeared again with Michael Grinder. I strongly recommend it not only for communication between lovers, parents and children but also in the workplace.

The love strategy is about how you give and receive motivational feedback. Think about an occasion when someone said or did something that made you feel good.

  • Was it an action?
  • Was it a word or phrase?
  • Was it a tone of voice
  • Was it a touch?

If you would like to receive such communication in the future, then perhaps it would be useful to tell others what happened and how it made you feel. Is your response very specific, or would similar actions, words, tones or touches be equally effective?

Now that you have explained to others what works for you, then find out what works for them. Perhaps they have never thought about it; in which case you are helping them to improve the quality of their life.

It might not be appropriate to ask someone specifically about their 'love strategy'; in which case you should observe how they react in different circumstances.

The love strategy is a sophisticated version of metaprograms. Some people respond best to receiving feedback or compliments by visual (including gifts), auditory or kinaesthetic means. Some people prefer lots of attention (stroking); others are more self referenced and get their motivation from knowing that they are doing well. Some like to achieve targets; others like to avoid failures.

There is no 'one rule' for motivation. However, there is a 'simple rule': find out what someone appreciates and give it to them.

Anthony RobbinsHOT NEWS: Anthony Robbins comes to town

Anthony Robbins is coming to London this week (15-18) to deliver his famous "Unleash the Power Within" seminar. I attended the very first one in Birmingham many years ago, including the firewalk. It is certainly a worthwhile experience – both for personal development and for modelling a great presenter. Find out more.

2.    Coaching notes: Hiring Tests: Where to Start?
R. Wendell Williams, PhD

We Need to Test!

There is a time in every organization when someone looks around and says, “We need to start testing applicants!” After that, they embark on a six-step journey:

  1. Someone in HR is assigned to survey the marketplace and spreadsheet the results
  2. A promising test is chosen – usually because of price, face validity or ease of use
  3. New applicants are chosen based on test scores
  4. Everyone is happy for about 18 months
  5. Managers notice test scores are not producing expected results
  6. HR becomes confused about what to do next and the project stalls

Everyone Uses “Tests"

Unless they hire everyone who applies, every organization uses some form of test to separate one applicant from another. This includes many things people don’t traditionally think of as “tests” such as interviews, resumes and application forms. Like it or not, we’re all in the “testing” business because it helps us reduce hiring mistakes.

Why Test?

In its simplest form, pre-hire testing eliminates blatantly unqualified people. In its best form, pre-hire testing accurately measures a full range of job-related competencies. The objective is to determine whether the candidate can perform elements of the job before making a hiring decision. Think of it as watching an athlete participate in tryouts, except this “tryout” includes problem solving, learning, planning, interpersonal skills, and motivations. In technical terms, this is called “multi-trait multi-method” testing (i.e., it uses several kind of tests to measure several competencies at least twice).

Experts estimate the average cost of not using a multi-trait multi-method to hire managers and professionals at 50% of annual base salary. The percentage for skilled and semi-skilled is 30% and unskilled is about 20%. These figures add up to big dollars.

What to Test?

Basically, everything critical to performing the job should be tested. For sales, management and consulting positions, this might include interpersonal skills, mental ability, planning and organizing, and motivation. Clerical or service positions might only require strong interpersonal skills and motivation. Technical positions might include strong planning and problem solving ability. The scope and depth of testing varies with position. Serious organizations use a process called “job analysis” to determine test requirements.

Pre-Hire Testing and Playing the Odds

Interviews: Most hiring decisions are based on verbal tests we call “interviews”. Interviews have verbal questions, expected answers, are totally self-reported, and highly subject to subjectivity. Naïve interviewers tend to believe “getting to know” the applicant leads to hiring accuracy. Depending on the study, though, the average odds of selecting skilled people based on interviews is around 5%. That is, one accurate decision for every 20 employees hired.

Self-Reported Tests: These are called integrity, sales-ability, leadership, clerical, motivational, personality, occupational tests, and so forth. Their predictive accuracy is slightly better than interviews because they use better questions, but they are still opinion-based. Depending on the study, the average odds of selecting skilled people based on opinion-based tests is around 10%. That is, two accurate decisions for every 20 employees hired.

Mental Alertness Tests: Mental alertness tests measure whether or not an applicant can solve problems. The common-sense theory is that dull people learn slower, solve fewer problems and make more mistakes. But how smart is “smart”? “Smart” for a grocery clerk may be significantly lower than “smart” for a grocery store manager or merchandise buyer. “Smart” for a sales person will depend on whether the product is complex or simple. “Smarts” fall along a bell curve… too low leads to dull employees, too high leads to bored employees. In addition, they tend to vary with demographic group. Depending on the study, the average odds of selecting skilled people based on mental alertness tests is around 50%. That is, 10 accurate decisions for every 20 employees hired.

Combinations and Simulations: The best performance predictors are combinations of different tests that measure the whole job, i.e., structured interviews, tests, mental ability, and simulations. A simulation is a “slice of the job” significant to success. It might be a sales situation, solving a managerial problem, scheduling and organizing a project, or even making a stand-up presentation. The theory is that any applicant who cannot perform “slices of the job”, probably cannot perform the whole job. Depending on the study, the average odds of selecting skilled people based on combinations and simulations is around 80 to90%. That is, 16 to 18 accurate decisions for every 20 employees hired.

What’s Best?

That depends on the answers to two questions: 1) the expense of making the wrong hiring decision; and, 2) the time an organization is willing to invest. Like sports talent scouts, there is no single test or exercise that will be more accurate than “watching someone play all parts of the game.” We help organizations use only tests that meet their unique goals.

What’s Legal?

US government standards specify that organizations use highly objective and trustworthy tools. This includes studying the job, using only tools that relate to job performance, treating everyone equally, and looking for ways to reduce adverse impact.

This article ©Copyright 2004, R. Wendell Williams, PhD. Dr. Wendell Williams is a test and measurements expert whose time-proven tools reduce turnover, double productivity, cut training time, and conform to the intent of EEOC Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.
Phone: 770-792-6857, Email:, Postal Address: 1323 Benbrooke Ln, Suite 1080, Acworth, GA 30101, USA.


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