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'Whole Person' Hiring Assessments

May 2005 - Brainbench, an online provider of job skills measurement services, has announced the rollout of its TotalMatch system of assessment tools designed to predict employee success more accurately by measuring the specific mix of personality, skills, abilities and past employment behavior for over 150 jobs.

The company says that its emphasis on measuring the 'whole person' reflects a strong demand among organizations for more sophisticated screening tools readily available for positions beyond the scope of senior executives. "Hiring managers know that just measuring technical knowledge isn’t enough," says Mike Russiello, President and CEO of Brainbench. "Until recently, the more complex assessments typically used for management and executives were not available or affordable for a wider variety of positions. But technology is changing that. We’ve been able to embed the science of industrial/organizational psychology into comprehensive test batteries that can be taken online."

Balanced Assessment

According to Brainbench, today's hiring organizations under-use the power of automated screening systems to deal with the flood of applicants created by job boards and other technologies. The answer, they say, is to create balanced, highly job-focused tests. "No one kind of test will give you the information you need," says Dr. Wendell Williams, founder and Managing Director of, a consultancy that works with Brainbench. "TotalMatch was developed to measure different aspects of an individual - knowledge, skills, abilities, motivation - and combine the results in a very job-specific way. Balancing several types of assessment gives you a more complete picture, and creates a tool that can predict on-the-job performance accurately."

Assessment packages tailored for a particular job have been available for some time, but Brainbench claim that they have traditionally been customized, expensive, and therefore limited to higher-level jobs. "TotalMatch delivers assessments for a broad range of jobs, including many of today’s high-value, often high-turnover jobs like Call Center and Customer Service representatives, using a validation process that ensures high quality," says Russiello. "We’re the only test provider to be ISO9001:2000 certified. And we do them off-the-shelf, very cost-effectively."

Measuring a Wide Range of Success Factors

The TotalMatch assessment tools are drawn from Brainbench’s comprehensive library of more than 600 tests combined, they say, with the highest standards in job analysis and custom assessment design following Department of Labor’s O*NET guidelines. For each of more than 150 jobs - from school bus driver to network technician or market research analyst - Brainbench has created and validated a highly job-specific, off-the-shelf TotalMatch test. Each test is designed to measure factors such as employment history, technical knowledge, occupational skills, personality traits relating to job fit and attitude towards work, multitasking skills, problem-solving, and more, depending on the requirements of the specific job.

Karen Edwards, Business Manager of Pegasus Technologies in Tennessee, had an HR background and was aware of the benefits and pitfalls of using a testing program. "The whole employee testing area is fraught with landmines. We would not feel comfortable with testing if a service such as this wasn't available. Being a small company, it’s very important to make correct hiring decisions," she emphasized. "In our hiring process, we wanted to test applicants both on their general abilities and for job fit/personality factors. Our line of work (RF/Electronics engineering) includes many different fields and subfields, so a person's direct experience might not match up to what we're looking for. However, in many cases, a very bright person can pick up the specialized details rapidly, and might be a better candidate than someone who had actually been doing the same work before. TotalMatch is aimed at specific job fields that we're hiring in, which makes both the specific areas tested and the results more directly on target."

According to Brainbench, tests are designed for maximum ease-of use, both for job applicants and potential employers. All testing and reporting is conducted securely online. "Making the process easy gives more accurate results," says Russiello. "We don’t think that figuring out how to take a test, or how to administer one, should be a skills test in itself." Test-design is also intended to ease the hiring process for employers. Instead of assigning numerical scores, reports rank candidates on a red-yellow-green scale and recommend tailored interview questions for hiring managers.

Russiello added, "We’ve identified a major shift in the industry, from measuring job skills and knowledge in a few areas, to predicting job success in a more complex way. Because we’ve always focused on predicting on-the-job success, we feel we’re ahead of the game, and TotalMatch keeps us at the forefront. In a sense measuring the whole person is just giving hiring managers what they’ve asked for. But in a very real way, I think their demand is finally catching up to what we’ve always believed."

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