Q&A with Profiles Asia Pacific President Malcolm Pick on Finding The Right Talent

Malcolm Pick is a certified coach and expert in IT and competency assessment, among many others.

A former partner of SGV in management services (now called Accenture) for Philippine and Malaysia, he was consultant of Price Waterhouse Coopers in UK and Systems Manager of Levi Strauss in Belgium. He earned his mathematical physics degree (Honours) at the University of Birmingham and his master’s degree in operational research and management studies at the Imperial College of the University of London. He heads Profiles Asia Pacific in the Philippine and Guam.

Q1: Is the Assessment Market saturated among big companies? What about SMEs?

A: While most major organizations have made use of assessments for some time, many SME’s do not. In fact when I asked the question recently to a group of HR personnel around 70% said they were not using online testing and a little under half were not using testing at all!

HR’s role within the organizational has evolved as more value is placed on its most important asset … its employees. Its role has become more strategic! Thus, SME’s (which are mostly family affairs) are beginning to realized the need for workforce assessment in their recruitment, training/coaching and general organizational development. Not all their siblings are going to want to and/or be able to successfully take over their businesses. However, for those that can and want to, through the use of state of art assessment solutions, they will be able to hire globally competitive talent!

Q2: What is the status of the assessment industry? How is the market segmented?

A: The HR market in the Philippines is well developed and ahead of most of its neighbors. That is true too of the assessments used in HR by local and multinational companies. In parallel with the development and usage of assessment tools in the West, paper based assessments (tests) have been in use here since the late 60’s, especially “IQ” type tests. In 1998 Profiles introduced computer based testing, initially on PCs, but later delivered online over the Internet. This is now the preferred method of test-taking for most providers and most user-organizations. Testing and assessment breaks down into the following main areas:
– Cognitive testing (almost all companies and organizations do this) It is well known to be the fastest, cheapest and most relevant method of selection particularly for rank and file positions and especially when combined with other selection methods
– Personality testing. There is no right or wrong personality, but knowing who is joining your team can be a great help during the onboarding process and in developing team cooperation.
– Traits based profiling (for matching candidates to specific jobs), our forte.
– Skills testing (also for job matching)
– Integrity testing

There are still a number of small local testing entities, but the vast majority of testing is done by a small number of online providers such as Profiles. We provide literally tens of thousands of tests each year.

Q3: Do you have assessment tools for big and small companies? What’s the difference between these tools?

A: The tools available are equally appropriate for large or small organizations. However, the difference generally is the investment the organization is prepared to make in assessing its employees. Thus we have found that the more sophisticated (and expensive) tools are mostly only utilized by the larger organizations (top 500 corporations and the multinationals). Another consideration here is the need to integrate the assessment process into their automated HR system, which is not yet a consideration with smaller organizations. The SMEs, however, tend to go for the much less expensive products which never-the-less provide short, sharp and to the point information.

Q4: What are the challenges you encounter when you try to penetrate a big company? What about a small company?

A: For larger companies the sales process tends to be much longer. Unless there is a specific and urgent project budgeting is typically done annually and so it may be 8 -12 months before a contract is signed. For smaller companies, if one is able to speak directly with the owner then the process can be much faster, but again, they may need more “education” on the benefits of using assessments… Here a “free trial” sometimes helps!

Q5: I understand your company has 95% client retention rate. How do you do that? How is Profiles differentiated in the industry?

A: Profiles Asia Pacific prides itself with excellent customer service. Our Client Support team is composed of licensed Psychometricians with strong customer service orientation. We have a team of credible personnel that can discuss our products thoroughly thus being able to empower our customers so they can maximize the use of our assessment service. We stay available and connected. Profiles keeps up to date with the clients by regular calls and strives to be their number one confidant for any HR related issues. Client concerns are addressed with utmost priority no matter how small the issue may be. It is also worthy to take note that customer service is not the sole responsibility of just our client support department but the entire organization specifically IT, Finance and Accounting, and Sales.

Q6: Let me ask a hypothetical question: If a family asked you to do an assessment of their family members as part of succession planning, what would be your approach if a candidate did not agree with your assessment?

A: This is not a hypothetical question, but happens in practice fairly regularly! It is quite likely that assessments produce somewhat unexpected results. Most assessments, especially for personality and behavioral tendencies, try to draw out innate traits that may possibly not be well recognized by the candidate. Thus the possibility of a “different” perception exists. This is why assessments adds value to the organization (and the individual). When one is describing oneself to another person, that is self-perception. But when assessments are utilized, especially with questions that are situational in nature, this reflects what one tends to instinctively think, how one instinctively acts, and thus how others will see and perceive us. As long as the assessment has been accomplished by a candidate “truthfully and honestly”, results will provide reliable information that the organization can utilize for personnel selection and planning and the candidate and can utilize for self-awareness and self-development. There is benefit to both parties.

Q7: Instead of relying on interviews for hiring decisions, can you share data on the strength of using other assessment tools?

A: The evidence is very strong that a reliable and valid assessment can significantly improve the HR processes of hiring, promoting, career and succession planning. Let me quote from a US Office of Personnel Management document.

Almost all selection processes include an interview, right? Well a traditional unstructured interview ranges from only 15 to 35% chance of making a good selection (i.e. hiring a top performer). A structured (behavioral) interview increases that to about 50% but still its only 50/50! However, considerable additional improvement can be made utilizing other assessment techniques. For example, an ability assessment (IQ test) plus a structured interview increases the success rate to around 63%, whilst an ability test plus a personality test does just as well. Our main profiling tool, the Profile XT, has three main components, an ability component, as well as components for behaviors (personality) and occupational interests (i.e. what the candidate “likes” to do and therefore what is likely to motivate them). When the information from these three components is combined with a behavioral interview, then the decisions made are right almost all of the time.

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