SBDC Front Page - Feature Article


With all the focus on keeping our heads above water in the new economy, it seems like a strange time to think about hiring. There are at least four reasons for doing so:
  • Without a sophisticated approach to hiring, we are unable to leverage the various advantages of the current buyer's market for employees.

  • The decision by the United States Supreme Court this summer in Ricci v. DeStefano opens the door more on the issue of applicant/employee testing.
      [Note: In the Ricci case, the City of New Haven administered a test to firefighters seeking a promotion. As minorities seemed to fare poorer on the test than non-minorities, the City opted to disregard the test results for fear of a disparate impact discrimination claim. The United States Supreme Court held that there was not enough evidence of disparate impact for the City to disregard the test results. The Court reasoned that an employer must have a "strong basis in evidence" before taking such drastic action - the corollary being that employer exposure to disparate impact claims is less than previously thought.]

  • Technology offers new approaches to hiring, allowing employers to move from sifting through resumes (terribly unsophisticated and time consuming) to tailoring computer or web-based tests or questionnaires to the most relevant competencies and traits.

  • The competencies and traits we look for (or should be looking for) in the hiring process go to the very essence of who we are as a company.
A few suggestions:
  1. Familiarize yourself with the various testing possibilities available on paper and on-line, including skills testing, psychological testing, and behavioral questionnaires. Calculate a 5%, 10%, and 15% reduction in turnover cost. How does that number compare to the cost of implementing the test? If favorable, is it too much to suggest that implementing the test would, in fact, reduce the turnover rate and/or cost (or to do so on a trial basis)?

  2. Ensure that any testing is carefully designed to track and measure the precise competencies and traits at issue. Confirm this by administering the test to top performers in the job(s) at issue.

  3. Think about hiring not just in terms of the job duties of the position(s) you seek to fill, but also in terms of the competencies and traits that make your best employees your best employees (e.g. follow-through, loyalty to the company vision and mission, problem solving, interpersonal skills, organization, risk-taking related to new ideas and processes, dependability, opportunities for cross-training).
Mark J. Goldstein is an attorney practicing labor and employment law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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