Qualified technicians have a sought-after combination of knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) including a wide range of trade-related skills and knowledge, and a depth of experience to troubleshoot problems and complete regular maintenance and repairs. They also need a clear focus on safety, and the ability to work effectively across the organisation, interacting with the rest of the workforce.

However, there is a critical shortage of qualified technicians. Fewer younger people choose trades as a career path and a substantial portion of the skilled maintenance workforce is nearing retirement.

Despite this shortage, and in a world in which the manufacturing sector is increasingly incorporating automation and new technologies and trade skills are becoming more specialised, hiring managers must still ensure applicants have what it takes to fill critical maintenance roles.

One Aon client, committed to a robust, fair and objective hiring process, chose us to design a comprehensive assessment process to help identify candidates with the skills required to succeed on the job.

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The Project

Creating the Assessment Process

For this client, the best individuals for their maintenance roles are those who possess both the technical and the non-technical knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) as well as demonstrate the behaviors needed to work across the facility.

Aon conducted a job analysis to identify the most important technical and nontechnical KSAs.  Based on the results of the job analysis we designed a five-step assessment process to help identify the most qualified candidates.

  1. Online, non-technical assessments. The first step is an online assessment of non-technical skills, including several nontechnical skills, safety orientation and mechanical comprehension.
  2. Role-specific technical knowledge tests. For candidates who meet the qualification standard on step 1, the second step is a trade-specific technical knowledge test that assesses the specialised knowledge required for the specific role (e.g. electrical or mechanical).
  3. A structured, behavioural, non-technical interview. In the third step, remaining candidates complete a structured behavioral interview assessing the essential non-technical skills such as those related to safety, quality and teamwork.
  4. Role-specific technical and experience-based interview. The fourth step is for candidates to complete a structured interview assessing their work experience related to the required technical expertise (e.g. specific electrical or mechanical tasks) for the specific role for which they are applying.
  5. Role-specific in-depth, hands-on, practical assessment. Finally, candidates complete a series of exercises associated with the specific trade for which they are applying. It requires them to demonstrate safety and proficiency in a series of technical tasks and activities which are core to the role.

Testing Out the Process

This comprehensive multi-step process assesses both the technical and non-technical skills required for effective job performance, and the ability to safely and effectively complete core technical job activities. Job experts reviewed and rated the job relevance of the technical tests, interviews and hands on assessments, confirming that all of the content was highly relevant to the job. To confirm that the on-line non-technical assessments helped identify the best candidates, we asked job incumbents to complete the assessments and had their managers rate their job performance. We then examined the relationships between assessment scores and performance ratings, and confirmed that test scores predicted job performance, and that those who scored higher on the assessments were much more likely to be top performers on the job.

The assessments can predict:

  • Job effectiveness. High scorers on the assessments are 90% more likely to be rated high in overall job effectiveness by their managers than low scorers.
  • The best performers. High scorers are 83% more likely to be in the top 40% of performers .
  • Those with a concern for safety. High scorers are 78% more likely to be rated high in safety orientation.
  • Those the company would choose to rehire. A good indicator of having hired the right people, is whether you would rehire them. In this study, high assessment scorers are 96% more likely to be rated as a “rehire”.

The results demonstrate that the manufacturing company can identify those candidates with the highest probability of success on the job and highlight skill gaps, while also ensuring consistency in the hiring process and maximising legal defensibility.

A Final Word

This was a project that demonstrated brilliantly how a well-defined and well-designed assessment process can identify the strongest candidates.

This five-step process allows this particular manufacturing client to efficiently identify those with the technical and non-technical skills who will be effective on the job.

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