We’ve got a couple of hiring/contracting projects under way. Unlike most businesses, interviews and resumes aren’t terribly important in the evaluation process, except at the final validation stage. Instead, we want to know if the individual can really do the work — and so ask all candidates to perform work-relevant tests. (We always compensate for these evaluations, based on the compensation model we would provide if we hired or contracted with the individual. If the work, for example, is hourly rated or guaranteed pay, we would pay a pro-rated guarantee for the work time; if it is for commission sales, we will pay commissions for sales achieved plus probably a bonus for milestone accomplishments, if the final work would be unlikely to be completed in within the test period.
The value of this system has shown up again as I assess offshore virtual assistant (VA) candidates. We posted our job through staff.com and received more than 150 responses. Some were laughable — I doubt anyone would pay more than $100 an hour for an offshore virtual assistant. But equally, if the rate is less than $3.00 an hour (legally correct compensation — remember, this is offshore work where the local pay will be much lower), do you know if you are getting someone you would want to hire?
We’ve set up the assignments and the results are in. One person on an initial evaluation data entry test completed twice as much work in the same period as another candidate. The next test: Can the individual handle a WordPress uploading project? One completed the work in minutes; the second asked for some extra time (given) and then reported she could not complete the job. Second elimination . . .
I then put a stretch assignment for the leading candidate — could she handle some editorial work (determining and writing English-language news copy)? She had a journalism degree listed on her resume, but I realized she didn’t get her education in an English-language country, and in any case she hadn’t applied for a writing job.
Not a complete pass on the final test — which is unfortunate, because if she had scored well on it, we would have made an “instant hire” decision. Now we must assess the minimum hour commitments and whether we have enough work for her to be busy (or whether it is worthwhile having her assume the editorial responsibilities and edit her work.)
I think you can test/evaluate most employees with relevant projects/assignments. They should be work-related and reflect the real world situation in which the employee would be expected to achieve success.
Certainly, it seems, our hiring model has some similarities to a much larger business –– Google, though I can’t claim that our hiring threshold is quite at its level.
The internet search giant has ditched brain-teaser questions; it doesn’t give too much weight to grade-point average scores, and it is wary about over-rating individual interviews as a hiring strategy. Google bases its conclusions on data — lots of it — and this quantitative approach shapes everything it does. (Among policies, Google doesn’t allow individuals who would be the direct supervisor to conduct the interviews, and it rates the interviewers on their success by comparing their choices to overall employee results. The company sets an incredibly high hiring threshold.)
So, test, test, and test some more. And, yes, these principles apply for marketing, advertising and other business initiatives, as well.
However, you can still be creative and bend the rules with a bit of imagination. For example, if your business would benefit from a part-time virtual assistant who can handle things like data entry and WordPress posting updates, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe we co-ordinate these services with the offshore contractor.