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Science of Assessment in ... Dating?

February 25, 2014


As the great Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”  In the spirit of the month of love, I got to thinking about Valentine’s Day, and all the relationships that we celebrate.

It’s interesting to think about all the ways we go about picking a mate.  We interview them (first date), we interview them (second date), we interview them (third date), maybe throw an assessment in there (mini-golf, salsa dancing, or drinking with friends).  Then we ask our friends (360 Feedback).  We make a decision, make an investment, and then … you’re stuck with them.456275901

The one area we truly don’t have captured is a pre-love assessment.  Certainly if I were assessing a mate, I’d need some pretty high scores on sense of humor, determination and off-the-chart levels of patience.

Sounds crazy?  Or does it.  Match.com boasts that 1 in 5 relationships start on internet dating sites.  eHarmony.com includes 400 (yes, 400) individual questions that they use to match mates together.  Those questions, measure … personality.

Mind blown right?  The science of assessment is working everywhere around us, and the dating industry is showing huge dividends by using their own customized assessments.  If it’s good enough for the person you may end up spending the rest of your life with, how can it possibly not be good enough for the person you’ll be spending your days with at the office, factory, or store?

When using assessments in the workplace, the steps usually look like this:

  1. You study the job and the organization and identify the key factors for long-term success (effective job performance and committed, retained employees).

  2. Identify the key competencies that a successful employee must possess to be successful and productive.

  3. Identify the cultural aspects of the organization that lead to satisfied and long-term employees. Identify the satisfiers and dissatisfiers of the job and organization that should be addressed during the hiring process.

  4. Identify a consistent and scientific way of measuring these competencies and fit factors. (That’s where well-developed and validated selection instruments come into play.)

  5. Design a hiring process that leverages the results of the assessments to best predict productive and long-term employees.

When you take a step back from the processes and look at both dating and hiring from a high level – the processes are interestingly similar.  Remember when you are searching for your next candidate that you are essentially looking for the right match – the right match for your organization, the culture and the skills needed to perform a job successfully.  


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Adam Hilliard