Employment Testing: 4 Keys to Hiring a Winner the First Time

Albert H. Zinkand, MIM

Company President Choosing Testing“I just don’t understand. I used my best interviewing techniques and questions. I checked his references and they were great. My instincts said, “He’s a runner.” I poured my heart and soul into training him and now, six months later, he’s failing miserably. I’m going to have to let him go.” Sound familiar? It has happened to all of us.

One of the most difficult tasks a manager or entrepreneur faces today is finding the right person for the job. Most follow a suggested interview guide and trust their instincts. They hire the individual and hope that with proper training and motivation, the individual will succeed. The difficulty with this approach is that it is human nature to hire people we like and that have similar personalities to our own.

If you are an accountant and are hiring accountants, then you probably have a 50% chance of hiring the right person for the job. But, if you are an entrepreneur or manager, and you are hiring for a position you have little experience in, chances are you will fail and the position will become a revolving door. With the average hiring mistake costing a company $20,000 – $30,000, competitive pressures make hiring right the first time a necessity.

There is a better way. At Employee Selection & Development, Inc., we have many years of experience in turning companies around. We have learned that the key to productivity and profits is having the right people in the right jobs. We call people with the skills, motivation and work ethic to do the job Power Runners. Put the Power Runner in the job and you will have a top producer; someone you wish you could clone. Put many Power Runners in the job and you will have a fast growing and exciting company that is fun to work for; a company that your competitors wish they could clone.

The 4 Keys


The first question to answer is “Is the individual compatible with what you are asking them to do?”. Many corporations today have career broadening assignments for their employees. The notion is based on the idea that the broader the experience, the better the employee. Unfortunately, many employees are miserable in career broadening assignments because their personalities are not compatible with what they are being asked to do. Their performance lags. They become frustrated and what was once a rising star becomes a management problem with an attitude. Usually, the employee leaves before the harried manager can determine the root of the problem. Doesn’t it make sense to determine a person’s compatibility with a new job BEFORE they are hired or promoted?

How is this done? I recommend the use of our ENet Hire or Personality Profile. First, test your most successful people in the position. The results will uncover their dominant job related traits. Our program will then model the results through a process called “benchmarking” or “base lining.” This process creates a hiring or promotion personality trait standard, by which you can compare your applicants or employees to the successful people in the job. If you do not have enough employees to benchmark, then you can use our industrial database of base lines. We have benchmarked over 88 positions from receptionist to CEO.


The second question to answer is “Does the individual have the skill set to do the job?” This can be determined through good interviewing questions, checking references, and giving the applicant a skills test that is relevant to the position. Recent research has shown that many degreed applicants lack the basic skills to do the job. I sincerely recommend the use of a Basic Skills Aptitude test. My company uses tests that were developed by a Doctor Woman at Computerof Education to specifically measure the applicant’s math, spellingvocabulary and grammar aptitude. Bottom line, what good does it do to hire someone who can’t add and subtract, or compose a business letter? Make sure they have these basic skills before you hire.

If you want to know if an applicant knows how to sell, I sincerely recommend the use of our SalesMax Assessment. It puts the applicant in typical sales situations and then measures their responses against a known group of top producers.


The third question we must answer is “Will the individual work?” For salaried positions, may I suggest you rely upon the in-depth interview questions provided by the ENet Hire or Personality Profile, and the questions below. The Interview Questions Report provides in-depth interview questions for the applicant’s scores that may be a problem on the job. Also, below are additional interview questions to help you determine the applicant’s work ethic. Feel free to modify the questions to suit your needs.

Mission/Sense of Purpose

Who is the most successful person you know in our industry?
What is your goal in life?
Tell me about your 5-year goal? Your 10-year goal?
For the first year or two, is there any reason why you wouldn’t be willing to commit to working 9 am to 9 pm, three to five days a week?

Tell me about something you have accomplished that required great perseverance?
Tell me about the jobs you have had that required self-discipline and perseverance?
Tell me about something that made you decide to give up and why?

Time Management
Do you use a Day Timer? May I see it? (Look to see if it is filled out.)
How do you prioritize your “To Do” list?
Have you taken any seminars on time management? Which ones?

Character and Credit History
When we conduct our character and credit checks, will we find anything questionable?
Check driving, credit, criminal, and employment history.
Check personal references.

Construction WorkerFor hourly positions, the questions we must answer are different. We want to know, “Will the applicant show up for work?” “Will the applicant steal from the company?” “Will the applicant take drugs on the job?” “Can the applicant accept supervision?” “What is the applicant’s attitude toward customer service and communication?” To measure these, I recommend our Work Ethic and Core Values tool that was originally developed for Sam Walton and his companies, or ENet Hire. Both are now in use with over 3,000 companies worldwide. Each test has proven very effective at screening out people with absenteeism, tardiness, drug, theft, supervision, safety, job hopping, and customer service problems.

If you would like to learn more about how to interview, please see the “Interviewing Tips” articles in the Research Menu at the top of this page.


People WorkingThe final question we must answer is “If I hire this applicant, who inside of my organization is best to manage the new hire and jump start his/her productivity?” How many times have you hired the “right” applicant, seen them perform excellently during the “honeymoon”, then watched their productivity slowly fall into non-existence? Our company has been doing retention research and exit interviews for over 7 years. We have found that personality conflicts now account for 50% of the employee turnover. In a recent research project, we discovered that often a new hire had all the “right” ingredients for success. The new hire was then assigned to a manager or trainer with whom they were incompatible. The result was after 120-180 days, the new hire became de-motivated, disheartened and left.

How can this be prevented? By making sure that the new hire and initial manager are compatible. You can do this by a simple comparison of their ENet Hire or Personality Profile results. If the manager and the new hire are opposites in more than 3 of the 20 job related traits, you may want to assign the new hire to another manager or not make the hire. While opposites may attract socially, they usually fight at work. If the differences are not as extreme, then have an initial conference and show the new hire and manager how they are alike and how their differences can benefit each other. Often, just showing two people how they can attack a problem from their different perspectives is enough to promote teamwork and jump start productivity.


With hiring mistakes costing the average company $20,000-$30,000, competitive pressures necessitate “hiring right and promoting right” the first time. In order to do this, you must have a complete picture of an applicant’s or employee’s strengths and weaknesses and how they will fit into your organization. This picture must include an assessment of their skills, their personality, their work ethic and consideration of compatibility with the immediate supervisor.

To see why companies worldwide are using Employee Selection and Development, Inc.’s services to help them hire right the first time and reduce employee turnover, you are invited to send in a form form "Managers Free Assessment" above, so that we may analyze and discuss you company’s hiring problems.. To discuss your hiring or testing needs in more detail, please feel free to call 800-947-5678 or 941-739-0400, or email us at president@employeeselect.com.