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Do Employee Assessments Take into Account an Organization’s Unique Culture?

January 21, 2014

When candidates are looking for jobs, one of the elements they are drawn to and interested in learning about is the work environment—the values of the organization, the people, the types of work performed, and so forth.  Essentially, they are looking to work in an organizational culture that fits with their values.  On the other hand, organizations also want to find candidates who will fit in well with their organizational culture.  But, how do you know if there is a good match?  We often get asked whether we think it’s important to measure and whether we measure organizational culture in our assessments.

I recently read Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, a book written by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.  In the book, Hsieh described how he created a work culture focused on customer service.  He mentioned how important company culture and values were to him.  Finding employees who identify with similar values was critical and therefore they incorporate assessments of these elements in the selection process.  When you have such a strong corporate culture, it makes sense to ensure that candidates will identify with and be happy in that environment.  As such, there is a lot of interest in this topic.

As selection experts, we feel that looking at organizational culture is an important part of the selection process.  We do this by examining the degree of fit between the candidate and the organization.   When there is a match, or a higher degree of fit, employees are more likely to be satisfied and are less likely to turnover.  When an organizational fit assessment is paired with a competency-based assessment, you are not only able to identify high performers, but you can also identify those who are more likely to stay with the organization.

In order to get a good idea of the organizational culture and work environment, a job analysis should be conducted.  By having conversations with job content experts, you can determine the values of the company and how the job is structured.  For example, is the organization very collaborative and does it require teamwork?  Is there a lot of variety involved in work tasks?  Does the job require being very adaptable to changing circumstances?  After getting a better understanding of these elements, measures of fit can be incorporated into the hiring process. 

In particular, these elements can be examined in interviews.  Interviews are a good opportunity to assess the candidate’s desires and motivational fit to the organization and the job.  Furthermore, organizational culture and fit can also be incorporated into online assessments.  Some of our fit assessments and sales assessments take this into account.  This information provides supplemental information to help guide your hiring decision.  For example, when you think about a sales job, there are many different types, which range from those that are strictly commission-based to those that are focused on building long-term relationships with clients.  By understanding what drives candidates—are they satisfied by money or by developing relationships—you can get a feel for whether the candidate will be a good fit for the job and organization.

While organizational and job fit can provide good information to help improve your hiring decisions, it’s necessary to ensure that you are focusing first on assessing whether the candidates have the necessary skills to be successful in the role.  After determining the candidates are capable, the fit information can improve your ability to hire higher performers who will likely stay with the company.

Are All Employee Assessments Alike?

Alissa Parr, Ph.D. Alissa Parr, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. Her areas of expertise include the development, implementation, and evaluation of assessment processes. Alissa has experience managing entry-level through executive level assessment and selection efforts across a number of different industries including government, financial, military, education, healthcare, and manufacturing.