Assess for the Best


One result of the current business climate in the hospitality industry is that there are a lot of people presently out of work. As companies have sought to reduce costs, payroll has seen the sharp end of the knife and redundancies have become commonplace. In some cases there are reasons why certain people have been shown the door sooner than others, just as in many instances there are highly talented people who have found themselves simply victims of circumstance.

As the pool of available candidates has grown however, it has become ever more important for employers to ensure that they are hiring the best candidate for the job. How do companies do this? Are a resume and an interview sufficient information on which to judge the skills, management style, work habits and cultural fit of an applicant? Resumes in particular are of only limited use as they are essentially just a chronological professional history and frequently rife with misrepresentation and falsifications.

In our function as professional recruiters, we employ the following strategies to ensure successful hiring: assessment, situational interviews, and reference and background checking. This article will look at the assessment component and examine the benefits and choices available.

Assessment should always be part of a company’s recruitment process and should seek to identify an individual’s tendencies in areas such as leadership, team spirit, creativity, ethical awareness, and self-efficacy. Taken together, these tendencies will give an indication of a candidate’s cultural compatibility with the company. Assessments can be conducted as written profiles, structured interviews, or collaborative projects, and there are a number of alternatives on offer.

One of the more widely used assessment tools has been the Myers-Briggs profile, which is based on Carl Jung’s conclusions about Psychological Types. The profile examines an individual’s preferences with regards to: how they are energised (by the outside or the inside world); how they take in information (sensory or intuitive); how they make decisions (thinking or feeling); and their orientation to the outside world (perceiving and judging). Myers-Briggs has served as the foundation for other personality assessments such as the Keirsey Temperament Sorter II which assigns an individual one of four temperaments: Artisans, Guardians, Idealists, and Rationals.

Talent Plus uses thematic interviewing to assess individuals and has developed Talent Benchmark which allows a company to create a specific benchmark against which prospective hires can be measured for cultural fit. Another successful assessment organisation is Caliper, particularly in the field of sales ability, and there are a number of other assessment organisations out there for companies looking to employ an effective assessment tool.

Radisson SAS Hotels and Resorts for example use a web-based tool, DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientious), for hotel positions up to department head level. For executive positions the company sends candidates to Human Factors International for a more in-depth assessment of skill set and cultural fit. Bruce Harkness, Director of People Management at Radisson SAS, attests to the benefit of integrating assessment as part of the firm’s recruitment process, “We use the assessment to cross-check with the resume and our interview impressions of a candidate, we are looking for commonality. It is never a deciding factor but it has a definite place in the hiring process and it certainly helps our properties in their candidate selection and in reducing the risk of high turnover.”

In collaboration with professors Judy Brownell and Florence Berger of Cornell University, Aethos™ developed an assessment tool specifically for the hospitality industry called 20|20 Skills™. The assessment is conducted online and typically takes less than one hour to complete. As it is Internet based it can be accessed any time, from anywhere, and requires little administrative involvement.

The Professors’ research revealed that peak performers in service industries bring key competencies to their positions. 20|20 Skills™ identifies and evaluates the following eight key performance characteristics:

  1. Leadership- measuring big picture orientation, vision and goal setting.
  2. Group Process and Team Building- measuring needs for collaboration, affiliation, and teamwork.
  3. Creativity- measuring aspects of innovation, creativity and curiosity.
  4. Sensitivity to Diversity- measuring sensitivities to individual, cultural, and ethnic differences.
  5. Ethical Awareness- measuring concerns for fairness, equity, integrity, and ethics.
  6. Problem Solving- measuring ability to think strategically, and create solutions to complex situations.
  7. Service Orientation- measuring concerns for guest or customer satisfaction.
  8. Self-Efficacy- measuring aspects of confidence, independence, and self-direction.

Online feedback gives immediate report profiles and enables a hospitality company to clearly measure a candidate’s results against the characters traits and competencies that are appropriate for a specific assignment or position.