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How to Consider Intangible Attributes in Your Business’s Hiring Decisions

The really tough part of any business hiring evaluation process is attaching numerical ratings to the intangibles, those attributes that are difficult to measure. Here are some suggestions on how to tell whether the candidate measures up in some of the intangible aspets.

Industriousness and motivation

Definition: Candidates’ work ethic — how hard they’re willing to work and how important they feel it is to perform to the best of their ability.

When important: All the time.

How to measure: Verifiable accomplishments in their last jobs. Evaluation by past employers and co-workers. Track record of successful jobs that goes back to college or even earlier.

Intelligence and problem-solving ability

Definition: Mental alertness, thinking ability, capability to process abstract information.

When important: Any job that requires the ability to make decisions (and not just follow instructions).

How to measure: Evidence of good decision-making ability in previous jobs. Also through testing. (Make sure, however, that the tests aren’t in any way discriminatory.)

Temperament and ability to cope with job demands

Definition: General demeanor — whether the candidate is calm or hotheaded.

When important: In any job where the stress level is high or in any work environment where people must interact and rely on one another.

How to measure: The best way to measure these criteria is to ask during the interview about workplace pressure in candidates’ previous jobs and how they feel they performed.

Creativity and resourcefulness

Definition: The ability to think outside the box — to come up with innovative solutions to problems.

When important: In jobs that require imagination or problem-solving skills that don’t rely on set procedures.

How to measure: Examples of previous work (graphic design work, writing samples, and so on). Specific examples of situations in which the candidate has devised an innovative solution to a problem. Previous accomplishments or awards.

Capacity for teamwork

Definition: The ability to work collaboratively with others and share responsibility for achieving the same goal.

When important: Any task with a strong need for employees to work closely and collaboratively.

How to measure: Previous work experience. (Did candidates work on their own or with groups?) Team successes mentioned during the interview. Evidence of ability to work within project team rules, protocols, and work practices. Support for co-workers. Willingness to ask for (and offer) help.

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