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A Psychometric Test Can’t Reduce Turnover (there, I said it!)

December 17, 2015


We sell behavioral tests – some of the best in the world. We have a team of Ph.D. I/O psychologists who design tests that are shown, over and over again, to predict performance and improve an organization’s ability to achieve its goals. We evaluate C-suite candidates, managers, and front line staff for some of the best companies in the world. Right about now, some of my consulting team is not happy with the title of this blog – but for my sake, I hope they read on!504564829

I had a call last week from a hospital that said, “Our turnover is high. We started using a behavioral assessment to evaluate candidates and we like it. It gives us some great information, but we haven’t reduced turnover.”

You’d think my response would be, “Well, your problem is that you’re not using a Select International assessment!” Nope. Here’s what I told them:

The test you are using might be a good, solid, psychometric assessment, but the problem is that plugging in even the best assessment does nothing if we don’t understand the problem, the goal and implement a “selection system” (not a “test”) – that addresses the problem comprehensively.

Turnover is complex and even the best selection system can only do so much. You can identify and hire exactly the candidates you need, but if you have pay scale or cultural issues, you’ll lose them. But – selection is a big piece of the puzzle. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Understand what’s causing the turnover. This should be part of a broader effort to understand the behavioral competencies and skills that predict success in the position. Remember that the number one reason someone leaves a job is the relationship with the immediate supervisor. What are you doing about how you select that person?
  2. Think about your interviewing program. Do you have a “program” or do you just interview people? Put in place a strong, well designed, and consistently administered behavioral interview program that is built to compliment the behavioral assessment.
  3. Pick the right assessment. Obviously, we like ours. But either way, make sure it’s an assessment designed for selection and not a general personality profile. Also, make sure it’s an industry specific assessment. You can’t really use the same tool to evaluate an accountant, a nurse, a nursing assistant, or an engineer.
  4. Use it correctly. Where exactly in the process should you insert the assessment? Well, it depends on your goals and candidate pool. How will you use the data? The hospital that called me just handed the report to the hiring manager and assumed they’d use the information to make better decisions. Well, that won’t work. Perhaps, if you have a large enough candidate pool, you use the assessment to eliminate those who score particularly poorly from the candidate pool and concentrate on those that the data shows have a better chance of sticking around and performing to your expectations.

Turnover is complex. It’s about culture and it’s definitely about selection. Healthcare hiring managers and healthcare recruiters need to work as a team on a comprehensive approach to find and retain the right people.

Reducing Turnover in Healthcare

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren is the President of J3 Personica, a consulting, assessment, training, and coaching firm, and a guest blogger for PSI. Bryan is an expert in progressive talent strategies, with a particular focus on leader and physician selection and development.