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Many successful businesses have found a way to differentiate themselves by making a unique and emotional connection between their goods and services and the specific expectations of their customers. It’s not a stretch to say that the stronger positive emotional connection an organization can create with its customers, the more likely customers are to spend their hard-earned money with them.

To make this connection, companies need passionate employees to provide great service, dedicated managers to run the business, and inspired executives to set the vision, strategy, and goals. Moreover, companies need talent at all levels in the organization who have been carefully selected based on their fit with the role and culture to best deliver the brand promise. To ensure a custom fit, organizations should consider a strategy that includes a customized talent assessment as part of a custom selection system.

Where is your organization now?

A good first step in considering a customized approach to talent selection is to evaluate the level of customization in your current selection system. This is important because there may have been previous customization work (like branding or implementation of custom competencies) that your organization can capitalize on for future customization.

Talent selection providers and specialists have differing methodologies and will leverage your existing customization in various ways. However, if you approach the provider knowing the level of customization in your current selection system, your organization will be better prepared. To best accomplish this, you should consult with the company that designed your selection system.

To evaluate the system on your own, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do the initial steps in our selection system (the application process, for example) communicate our employment brand?
  • Do we provide clear expectations about the role and our company to the candidate?
  • Do the assessment selection reports reflect my organization’s branding?
  • Are the assessment content, reporting, and scoring logic designed specifically for roles and job families in my organization?
  • Are the interview questions and rating/scoring system unique for each of the roles?
  • Do the interviews assess candidate-fit in my specific culture and organization?
  • Do I have a technical manual that supports my customization process?
  • Do I have quantifiable, results or a statement of the return on investment showing that the system is truly meeting our custom needs?

Levels of Customization

Talent assessment customization can be best defined by level and by methodology. Below are outlined many of the common levels of customization for talent assessment tools and how methodology plays a role.

  • Low Customization: This approach involves branding an “off-the-shelf” assessment for a particular role based on a job review and adding company-specific language for the candidate and hiring manager experience. Examples include incorporating your company logo into an assessment report, and editing interview questions or the language used in the hiring manager report to better reflect your company’s culture. Low customization is lower-cost and quicker to implement.
  • Medium Customization: A medium-level customization effort often involves Success Profiling or Competency Modeling. At this level, the assessment provider conducts an extensive job study to identify the model of successful performance, which is then communicated in the talent assessment as a Success Profile or Competency Model. Assessment content and the resulting candidate evaluation report are aligned to evaluate the candidate’s potential for these desired job competencies. This approach works well in management and professional positions for selection and for development purposes.
  • High Customization: A highly customized talent assessment involves conducting a criterion validation study with large sample sizes and rigorous statistical analysis. A comprehensive job analysis is conducted to identify the critical behaviors and characteristics and then statistical validation occurs. As a result, highly customized talent assessments would be designed to include role or job-family specific assessment items, weighting, scoring, and reporting. This approach is more complex, but can greatly impact employee retention and productivity impact.


Ultimately, organizations make decisions regarding talent selection customization by evaluating the time, effort, and costs that go into implementing an assessment program, as well as the expected ROI and other benefits. Conducting a cost/benefit analysis will help your organization decide on the best route for customization. Consider your starting point, talent strategy, and talent goals to ensure that this very important decision is right for your organization.

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