Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Employee Assessment in Israel

I am introducing guest posts to the blog in order to broaden the scope of the Israeli employment issues covered. We are fortunate to be able to welcome Natalie Anker Cohen as our first guest blogger, writing on one of her areas of speciality: employee assessment.

What type of companies/sectors/job positions are the ones that send their candidates for employee assessment in 2010? Why is this so?
The process of employee assessment as a means of determining job fit and future job performance is a fairly well-established procedure in Israel, spanning a wide range of job positions, companies, and sectors. Assessments may be offered for roles as diverse as top management levels, intermediate and professional roles, through to more junior positions. Likewise, small and large companies across a wide range of market sectors in Israel utilize assessment processes to aid their hiring decisions, including finance, industry, technology, communications, insurance, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, transportation and retail.
As to why companies choose to use employee assessment practices when making hiring decisions, a number of reasons exist. Firstly, the assessment process aims to ensure that staffing decisions are based on the best information available given the constraints of the hiring situation. Assessments aim to add value in terms of their ability to support more objective, consistent treatment of candidates. Assessments also aim to provide a selection process that is accurate, efficient, fair, and legally defensible. In addition, companies use assessment practices in the hopes of hiring employees who are more successful at their jobs, thereby increasing retention and reducing turnover of successful employees through improved job fit.

What is the objective of employee assessment?
The aim of employee assessment is to systematically collect and analyze information from job candidates for the purpose of predicting their future job performance. Assessments can include anything from structured interviews, personality and ability measures, knowledge tests, background investigations and work simulations. Assessments can be carried out either “in-house” (that is, on the company premises, typically facilitated by HR personnel) or at various external companies that specialize in administering assessment centers and other assessment-related activities. When properly designed and used, assessments provide an efficient means to measure and evaluate aspects of a candidate’s knowledge, skills, personality, experience and motivation that influence whether they are likely to succeed in a particular job.

What are the main companies in Israel that are conducting these assessments?
A number of companies in Israel specialize in carrying out assessment centers and related activities. Some of the larger organizations that do this include: Adam Milo, Keinan Sheffy, Pilat, to name just a few. In addition, many of the larger companies in Israel also have their own “in-house” assessment teams that focus on conducting assessments internally to support their hiring decisions.

What are the components of these tests, both conceptually and in detail?
The components of assessments used in assessment centers will vary from job to job, and from company to company, but typically, assessments comprise structured interviews, ability measures (also known as cognitive or aptitude tests), personality questionnaires, work simulations and behavioral tests (including group dynamics, role playing, interactive tasks). Assessments can be administered using multiple platforms, including traditional pencil-and-paper tests, computerized tests, and web-based testing. With regard to duration, typically, assessment centers can be classified as either half-day (approx 4 hours) or full-day (approx 8 hours).
Following is a brief description of some common forms of assessment used in assessment centers. To help you get familiar with the types of questions you may encounter, click here to view sample items (available in Hebrew only), and make sure to check out the links included at the end of this article.
Structured Interviews: Such interviews attempt to gain insights into an individual’s preferred style of working, often by asking questions directed at past experience, and help to predict behaviors in future situations.
Ability (Cognitive) Tests: These tests attempt to measure an individual’s ability to acquire, through future training, some specific set of skills. The tests assume that people differ in their special abilities and that these differences can be useful in predicting future achievements. Such tests often include verbal, numerical, spatial and abstract reasoning assessments.
Personality Questionnaires: ‎Personality questionnaires differ from ability tests in that they look at ‘style’ rather than ability. In other words, they examine how one typically prefers to do things, such as the way one relates to others or how one approaches tasks and solve problems. They tend not to be timed and there are no right or wrong answers, as they are concerned with how one sees oneself.
Behavioral Tests: These tests examine demonstrated behavior as a means of predicting ‎future performance. Behavioral assessments focus on an individual’s work style, including problem solving and decision-‎making style, leadership competencies and social skills. Such tests include group dynamics, role playing, and interactive tasks.

How are the results interpreted by the employers?
Often, there is some anxiety surrounding the usage of assessment results. It is important to remember that assessment is one of many important pieces used to support the hiring decision. At the end of an assessment process, a comprehensive report is compiled, integrating all aspects of the assessment. The report summarizes the candidate's profile and their fit to the position and the organization, including the degree to which the candidate is likely to succeed in the specified role.

Can the job candidate get their results? What about results being made available to future employers?
Yes, results are available to job candidates seeking results after assessments. Typically, companies that carry out the assessments will offer a personal feedback session, usually subject to payment. During these feedback sessions, a consultant will present the findings of the assessments and answer any related questions.
In addition, subject to the candidate’s consent, assessment center results may be used for future jobs that the candidate applies for. In this way, if a candidate who has already gone through an extensive assessment with one employer wishes to share these results with a potential future employer, this service is generally available, subject to payment.

What happens for people taking these tests that are not fully fluent in Hebrew?
Depending on what position is being applied for will largely determine the language in which the assessments are conducted. In most cases, the candidate will be given the opportunity to perform the cognitive and personality components of the assessment in their native language, if available (common languages may include: English, Spanish, Russian, French, Arabic). Remember that the aim of assessment is to gain a clear and accurate account of a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in reference to a particular job, so as to accurately predict future job performance. It goes without saying that undergoing the tests in ones’ native language increases the likelihood that the results obtained will be accurate. Therefore, most companies that conduct assessments will offer alternatives for people who may otherwise struggle to complete the assessments in Hebrew. However, with regard to group assessments, it is likely that these will be administered in Hebrew, particularly if the majority of group participants are Hebrew speakers.
The company responsible for sending you to an assessment should take account of any language requirements; however, it doesn’t hurt to call ahead and notify the assessment company of any language requirements you may have.

Preparing for assessments. What help is available?
While there are online sites that exist today with the aim of helping to prepare candidates for assessment, most assessment companies would agree that it is not possible to prepare for the types of activities used in assessment centers. A quick search of the websites of some of the larger assessment companies in Israel offer some helpful tips and sample questions to ensure you are at you personal best when approaching an assessment procedure (use the links below to guide you). As a general rule, the best preparation would be to ensure that you arrive refreshed and well rested to the assessment day, and approach the exercises and activities calmly and with an open mind.

Additional Links
Preparation tips: Adam Milo (English, Hebrew, Spanish), Pilat (Hebrew only), Keinan Sheffy (English, Hebrew)

Sample questions: (Hebrew only): Adam Milo, Pilat

Employee Assessment Real Life Examples:

Author Details:

Natalie Anker Cohen holds a Bachelor of Science, a Graduate Diploma in Psychology, and a Master of Organizational Psychology, all from Monash University, Australia. She relocated to Israel in 2007 and has recently held a position in Human Resources at one of Israel's leading high-tech companies. Prior to relocation, Natalie worked as an assessment consultant within the Talent Management division at Hudson, in London and Melbourne. She can be reached at: nanker16@hotmail.com.

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