Tag Archive: Competencies

  1. Job Competencies: Why They’re More Important than Industry Knowledge

    Sports distributor unlocks the secret to sales success when they begin hiring based on candidates’ personality, rather than background

    Imagine you’re a large-scale distributor of sports equipment and apparel. You hire salespeople from coast to coast to connect with local schools, community organizations, athletic programs – anyone who might be in need of uniforms, spirit wear, practice equipment, or game-day gear.

    What makes a great sales hire in the sports retail world? Someone with the right job competencies, or someone with deep industry knowledge?

    Well, you can probably guess that most of your job applications will come from people with a coaching or sports related background. Which makes sense. Former coaches and players have industry knowledge and a special love of the game that will draw them to your type of business. It may even fuel their sales energy. But will it help them close deals?

    Not exactly. While this type of person likely has experience using the products you sell, and can probably make personal suggestions as to which cleat is best for the community’s youth baseball league (molded? metal? turf?), being a sports fan is not the only requirement for sales success.

    This is what a leading sports distributor discovered when they took a close look at their 800+ person sales team. The company had seen a recent uptick in turnover, and wanted to address it before it became a bigger problem. Also, they knew that their sales managers, who were in charge of all the hiring on the sales team, could use some help vetting talent from outside the industry. The company’s Talent Acquisition Manager said they needed a tool to “tip the odds in their favor.” That’s when they came to Outmatch.

    After taking part in a research study that included 250 of their sales professionals, the company realized that sales productivity was driven primarily by the salesperson’s personality, not by their background or love for sports.

    Six months earlier, the company began using a predictive talent assessment with two goals in mind: (1) streamline the selection process for busy sales managers, and (2) identify sales candidates who were best fit for the role and least likely to turn over. Rather than measuring product-specific skills or industry knowledge, this assessment measured candidates’ personality, including Accommodation, Assertiveness, Sociability, Frustration Tolerance, and other job competencies that are critical to success in a sales role.

    As part of the research study that followed, Outmatch collected supervisor ratings and objective metrics on newly hired salespeople, and compared them to the recommendations made by the assessment. Such analysis would reveal just how well the assessment was predicting success in this company’s sales environment.

    Results showed that salespeople who were identified as a strong match by the assessment were 9X more likely to achieve above-average sales productivity, compared to those who were identified as a poor match.

    Without an assessment in place, the company would have likely hired a mix of strong and poor matches, based on their previous selection process. With an assessment in place, they can focus all their hiring efforts on strong matches, who have proven to be more productive in the role.

    Not only was the company able to address their turnover problem, they’re now equipped to boost performance and productivity across their entire sales team. The company still considers a candidate’s coaching or sports background in the selection process, but it’s not the most important consideration. As it turns out, job competencies for sales success can cut across industries.

    It’s not so much what you sell, but how you sell it, and people with a natural strength for sales will often thrive, even if they’re not selling something that’s deeply personal or nostalgic to them.

  2. Top Competencies for Career Success

    Do you know which competencies are most critical for success at your organization? Your competencies for success will depend on several things: company culture, strategic vision, the size of your organization, and the type of business you’re in.

    For example, when Amazon hires leaders, they look for people who have backbone and aren’t afraid to disagree and commit. At Google, Eric Schmidt, CEO of Alphabet, Inc. (Google’s parent company) will tell you that persistence and curiosity are key. Top performers who thrive at Amazon won’t necessarily thrive at Google, and vice versa. Both companies are industry leaders, but they achieve success in very different ways.

    The best way to capitalize on workforce success is to tease out those “secret ingredients,” or the competencies for success that set your employees apart. When you’re ready to define those competencies, align your organization around those competencies, or support an organizational change, success modeling is the way to go. You’ll get a set of core competencies, including definitions and key behaviors for success, that are specific to your organization and leveled across different departments and job types.

    We know, based on our research and experience with clients, which competencies are most likely to drive success in different types of companies. For example, when a restaurant client hires their front or back of house staff, the standard success profile will include traits like sociability, resilience, and multitasking. But if your particular restaurant is focused on promotions and upselling, the ability to influence guests will be more important for bottom line performance.

    Hiring people who align with your competencies for success is a crucial first step, and you’ll begin see an impressive shift in business performance as you get more of the right people in the door. Then what? What makes those new hires want to stay with your organization? What makes them want to climb the ranks into leadership roles? Using pre-hire assessments to measure your key competencies, you can assess a candidate’s fit for your company, and also see how likely they are to grow and be successful in the future.

    To learn more about competencies and culture fit, see our success profiles for restaurant, retail, sales, leadership and more, or watch our webinar on hiring for quality, consistency, and culture.

  3. True or False: Reference Checking and Legal Risks

    We all know reference checking can be time consuming, and without a good process in place, you can’t count on good results. Recruiters, who typically spend hours trying to get in touch with references, will tell you that response rates are a big problem. Why? Because many references (and their employers) believe there’s a legal risk involved.

    Reference checking is one of the key ways to determine if your next hire is going to stick, but it doesn’t work if you can’t get references to respond. What can you do to improve your process and alleviate fears of getting into hot water? Let’s look at some common concerns to find out if the risks are real.

    True or False? It’s a legal risk to provide a reference check.

    False: According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, reference checking can actually reduce the risks of negligent hiring.

    True or False? If a former employer provides factual information and the person isn’t hired, the employer can be sued for defamation or discrimination.

    False: This is a serious concern and often causes low response rates among references. But the key word here is factual. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “it is legal for [employers] to provide factual information about a former employee to a potential employer.”

    True or False? A reference’s perception of risk makes them less likely to respond.

    True: Former managers and colleagues know first-hand what’s it like to work with the candidate you’re considering. But if they aren’t willing to share that insight with you, you’re wasting your time. You need several references vouching for each candidate so you can be confident that you’re getting the very best candidate for the job.

    How do you help references open up? Offer anonymity so they don’t feel like they’re “on the hook” for honest answers. With online reference checking, each reference rates the candidate on job competencies and performance, and these responses are combined into one score. That way, individual answers can’t be traced back to the reference, but you still get valuable insight into the candidate’s potential for success.

    Plus, with online reference checking, references are more likely to respond because they can complete the survey online in their own time. In fact, online reference checking delivers a response rate of more than 90%.

    Ready to get started?

    Reference checking, like any other part of the hiring process, can have risks, but it’s important to get a clear and complete picture of your candidates before making a potentially costly hiring decision. When you use technology, like online reference checking, you not only minimize your legal risk, but you get a more efficient, more reliable process for evaluating candidates. Sign up for a free reference checking demo, or start your free trial today.

    To learn more, check out The Recruiter’s Talent Acquisition & Reference Checking Handbook.

  4. Tips from Clients: Setting the Stage for Hiring Success




    Today’s tips come from Clay Stallings, VP of Talent Acquisition & Development at Acceptance Auto Insurance. Acceptance has used Outmatch assessments and automated reference checking for hiring since 2013, and according to Clay, “the results are impressive.”

    Clay explains how he set the stage for success when implementing these hiring tools at Acceptance: “First you have to commit, then you have to learn it, then you have to get buy-in. We did those three things, and it all fell into place beautifully.”

    Specifically, Clay points out two best practices that greatly contributed to their improvements in efficiency and quality of hire:

    1. “Provide a well thought-through job description to the Outmatch team, including notes on the most important traits needed for a candidate to succeed on the job. For example, if a candidate doesn’t have a dominant personality, he or she won’t succeed in a sales position. This really helps to dial in to individual job assessments.” 

    2. “Integrate Outmatch into your Applicant Tracking System. The time saved was phenomenal. Recruiters went from spending anywhere from 90-120 minutes per day identifying potential candidates, then that number dropped to zero. When you calculate time saved over the course of a week, it adds up to a full 8-hour work day.”

    These best practices can help any new client succeed with assessments, automated reference checking, and more. Thanks, Clay!

    For more best practices, check out this video: 5 Tips to Get the Most out of Being an Outmatch Client.

  5. Tips for Hiring a Strong Hotel Staff

    Staffing a hotel is no easy feat. With turnover at 50% for non-management hotel employees, you’ll end up replacing half of your staff every few months. To slow the cycle of hire, train, repeat, you have to be sure that the people you bring on are right for the role—meaning they have the traits and competencies to succeed in the position, and possibly the potential to move up within your organization.


    For most hotels and resorts, the housekeeping staff is the largest employee population. In fact, hotels employ almost 500,000 people in housekeeping across the U.S. Here are the most important traits to look for as you hire housekeeping attendants:

    • Energy
    • Pride in Work
    • Criticism Tolerance
    • Integrity

    Employees with these traits will be better suited to handle the demands of housekeeping, which can include long, antisocial hours and unsupervised work.

    Front Desk

    With almost 250,000 hotel desk clerks nationwide, the front desk staff represents the front-line of guest service. These employees welcome guests into the hotel and set the tone for the rest of their stay. When hiring front desk reps, keep an eye out for these key traits:

    • Energy
    • Self-Reliance
    • Multitasking
    • Problem Solving
    • Positive Service Attitude
    • Resilience
    • Interpersonal Insight
    • Sociability
    • Accommodation to Others
    • Criticism Tolerance

    Because guests expect a genuine smile and a pleasant experience, it’s important that employees are a natural fit for the job. If they’re pushed too far out of their comfort zone, they’ll be at a higher risk for burnout and your service levels will suffer.

    How’s Your Intuition?

    Unfortunately, none of these traits are very easy to spot when you first meet someone—and your need to fill positions quickly probably keeps you from feeling 100% confident when it’s time to extend an offer. To see how candidates score on each of these key traits, try using hospitality assessments for housekeeping, front desk, and more.

  6. Success Beyond the Four Walls

    The transition from general manager to multi-unit manager is especially challenging, and sometimes even your best GMs aren’t ready for it.

    In this article, learn how to select the right GMs for multi-unit management. Then, listen to our webinar for an even deeper dive into the traits, competencies, and critical experiences that lead to success in multi-unit.

    Interested in learning more? Check out our other HR Insights webinars!

    GM to MUM blog teaser

  7. Why All the Weird Questions?

    You make decisions as you go rather than plan everything in advance. Agree or Disagree?

    If you’ve ever taken a personality assessment as part of the application process for a job, then you’ve probably wondered what these kinds of questions are getting at—and what your answers might be saying about you.

    Maybe you’re not on the job market anymore, but if you’re involved in HR, chances are you use some type of assessment for hiring. Do you ever wonder how questions like this can generate concrete data about someone’s work style and potential to succeed?

    Let’s revisit the question above for a sneak peak at the science behind our assessments.

    This particular question measures the trait of work organization or conscientiousness. We use this question to see if the candidate is more of a planner (someone who is methodical, careful, and anticipates long-term outcomes), or more free-form (someone who is comfortable with shifts in priorities and is more likely to go with the flow).

    Keep in mind, this is just one question that measures work organization/conscientiousness. It’s important to ask several different questions around the same theme to get a more comprehensive view of the candidate. Looking at the response to a single question won’t give you a very good sense of the candidate’s personality overall, or how they compare to other working professionals.

    In evaluating these responses, it’s important to look for ideal ranges, rather than high or low scores. You might assume that high work organization is a good thing in any job, but being too high on this trait might mean that the candidate has trouble in situations where they need to react spontaneously. The ideal range will vary depending on the job, but mid-range scores or a balance of high and low scores are usually best.

    Want to get a feel for the full assessment experience? Sign up for a demo, or try out an assessment by taking one yourself.

    This post is part of our FAQs series, where you can learn about the inner-workings of our assessments, as well as best practices to help improve your hiring process.

  8. Is Age Bias a Real Thing?

    Admit it. You probably have a favorite “type” of hire. It’s the person you take a chance on because they remind you of an employee that worked well in the past.

    In this article, see how playing favorites—even when it seems harmless—can hurt inevitably your hiring decisions.

    Age Bias - blog teaser3

  9. Can ‘Fun’ Assessments Be Functional?

    If you’re in HR, then you’ve probably come across a new wave of talent assessments that try a simplified approach to gathering information about candidates. Ever heard of the Draw-A-Dog Scale? It’s used to measure children’s cognitive development, but similar visual assessments are making their way into the world of talent selection.

    Recently, a client asked us about a 2 minute picture-based personality assessment. They wanted to know why we don’t implement something similar, and why our assessments take so long (8-15 minutes, typically) in comparison.

    Who doesn’t love pictures? But we want to be sure that the assessments our clients use are going to add real value to the selection process. So here are a few things to watch out for as you evaluate different assessment methods.

    • Too general. If the same set of questions is used for every job, whether it’s a hotel desk clerk or a VP of operations, then the assessment probably casts too wide a net and won’t be able to accurately predict performance for any specific role.
    • Irrelevant questions. Questions that aren’t related to the job only create noise in the selection process. Plus, someone applying for a customer service job, for example, will probably be confused by a question asking them about their interest in nature.
    • Potential bias. The problem with pictures and symbols is that they can mean different things in different cultures and groups… For instance, are men more likely to endorse images of other men? And if so, what do you learn from that?
    • High vs. low scores. If the scoring is too simplified, for example, someone who agrees with all the statements get the maximum score, then the assessment is really only measuring how agreeable they are, not how well they’ll perform in the role.

    For an assessment to truly add value (and be legally defensible), there should be a clear link between assessment scores and job performance. In other words, candidates who score well on the assessment actually perform better in the role, which means your selection criteria is aligned with the job competencies that lead to success.

    What we like about some of these new assessments is that they provide a streamlined, mobile-friendly experience. And we agree that a visually appealing design is more engaging for candidates, but style can’t replace substance. That’s why we recommend a scientifically sound assessment in a fresh, candidate-focused interface.

    This post is part of our FAQs series, where you can learn about the inner-workings of our assessments, as well as best practices to help improve your hiring process.