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Dr. Charles Handler

Dr. Charles Handler is a thought leader, analyst, and practitioner in the talent assessment and human capital space. Throughout his career Dr. Handler has specialized in developing effective, legally defensible employee selection systems. Since 2001 Dr. Handler has served as the president and founder of Rocket-Hire, a vendor neutral consultancy dedicated to creating and driving innovation in talent assessment. Dr. Handler has helped companies such as Intuit, Wells Fargo, KPMG, Scotia Bank, Hilton Worldwide, and Humana to design, implement, and measure impactful employee selection processes. Through his prolific writing for media outlets such as ERE.net, his work as a pre-hire assessment analyst for Bersin by Deloitte, and worldwide public speaking, Dr. Handler is a highly visible futurist and evangelist for the talent assessment space. Throughout his career, Dr. Handler has been on the forefront of innovation in the talent assessment space, applying his sound foundation in psychometrics to helping drive innovation in assessments through the use of gaming, social media, big data, and other advanced technologies. Dr. Handler holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana State University.

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What Does Your CEO Know About Talent Assessment?

by Aug 26, 2014, 12:24 am ET

Q: What does your CEOs know about talent assessment?

A: Nothing and everything.

Let me explain. keep reading…

Why Social Job Matching Will Replace Talent Assessment Tests

by Jun 5, 2014, 12:43 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 10.43.34 AMTalent assessment continues to grow as a legitimate business tool. Times have never been better for those who provide and use talent assessment solutions. Despite the seemingly infinite complexities that can come with the territory, companies of all shapes and sizes are realizing the business value of using assessments to support insight on quality of hire.

As good a tool as talent assessment is, it remains old fashioned and continues to have trouble getting out of its own way. The real disruptive force in quality of hire will take the form of “social job matching.” keep reading…

This Is Not a Test — It’s the Future! Talent Assessment Trends for 2014

by Jan 28, 2014, 12:29 am ET

“Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon … everything’s different.”  – Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes (by Bill Watterson)

This quote from a cartoon hero who uses his overactive imagination to both entertain us and teach us valuable lessons about life represents a perfect summary of my thoughts about the future of the talent assessment industry.

To see the future, we have to be willing to take a good long look at what is happening in the talent acquisition world within the context of bigger picture trends. The mega trends that are shaping the future of how people do things on a global basis (i.e., empowerment via access to information, exponential growth in connectivity, ability to crunch and interpret staggering amounts of data, using collective intelligence to find truth) are all quietly at work setting the stage for major change in our industry.  keep reading…

What I Learned About Assessments From a Human Resources Technology Conference

by Oct 23, 2013, 5:28 am ET

For those who love technology and value it as an essential asset to the people side of business strategy, a conference held this near in Las Vegas, the HR Technology Conference, never disappoints. This year was no exception. It  seemed to be the biggest edition yet with a dizzying array of companies offering a wide range of solutions across the entire HR landscape.

I saw the major themes permeating the trade show floor as: unprecedented levels of individual accessibility and control over information of all types; social connectivity and easy integration of everything; data and analytics attached to most things; on-demand learning everywhere one turns; and technology as a means to support personal, corporate, and social responsibility.

I’ll leave the details of the big picture views to other analysts whom I feel have offered great insights, and drill down to my specialty areas: talent acquisition and specifically talent assessments. keep reading…

What Have You Done for Me Lately? Entrance to the C-suite Requires Data on the Economic Impact of Job Performance

by Aug 6, 2013, 12:58 am ET

If I hear one more speech about how HR needs to be strategic, I may lose it. Of course, we all want and need to make a difference, get noticed, and help our companies be successful. I’m not trying to suggest that we avoid the idea of thinking strategically, but there is only one true way to be strategic when in front of business leadership: show them the money!

Until we HR, talent acquisition, and talent management professionals have the tools and know-how needed to directly quantify the economic impact of our efforts to hire people who will perform effectively, it will be hard  for us to be truly strategic and triumph in our quest to be taken seriously by the C suite. While there is no doubt that the tools used to predict which applicants will be the best performers provide an important contribution, the only way to gain insight into the value of these tools is to tie their effectiveness directly to financial metrics of job performance. Unfortunately, this has proven to be a major challenge.

Below is a short list of the major roadblocks to HR (specifically talent acquisition and talent management) being truly strategic when it comes to measuring the economic impact of the hiring process. Since the value of the hiring process hinges on the ability to show the impact on the bottom line through the people who are contributing to it, these issues all center around problems related to translating insight about workplace performance into financial metrics. This is a data problem and thus it is no surprise that all of these roadblocks are related to the data used to measure job performance. These issues include: keep reading…

Employment Tests Say: Give Us Mobile or Give Us Death!

by Jun 26, 2013, 6:00 am ET

state dept appWhen it comes to linking people to information and opportunities at scale, mobile devices represent “a perfect storm of opportunity” for driving engagement because they provide personalized information on demand. This allows companies to win customers through dynamic ads that are location- and context-specific and can be based on prediction of intent.

Statistics for mobile device uptake show that it is increasing exponentially over time such that mobile internet access is poised to overtake fixed Internet access by 2015

This trend is even more pronounced in emerging markets such as India where mobile technology allows for the chance to skip over older technologies (i.e., land-based cables) that requires a deeper investment in infrastructure.

We are moving toward the global eventuality that an increasing number of things that we do on a daily basis will involve a mobile device. What seems less clear is a firm handle on where are we in our ability to really use these advantages in a consistent and strategic way when it comes recruiting and hiring. That’s what I’m going to talk about, below. keep reading…

Employment Tests Are Becoming Irrelevant for Predicting Job Success

by May 8, 2013, 5:35 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 1.42.47 PMLet’s talk about the future of predicting job success and why the world’s biggest evangelist for pre-hire assessments thinks tests are in danger of becoming extinct (and is OK with it).

There are a number of emerging trends in hiring right now that center around the currency of the new millennium: data. The impact of our ability to collect, organize, and interpret data is rapidly changing all areas of the economy. Should employment be any different? There are three ways in which data is slowly killing the employment test as we know it. keep reading…

Here’s How to Avoid Picking a Shoddy Assessment Vendor

by Apr 3, 2013, 5:46 am ET

Selecting a pre-hire assessment vendor is not always easy, but doing it right can make a huge difference.

I’ve written about this subject before, as has my fellow I/O psychologist and ERE author Dr. Wendell Williams, and I’ll be doing a webcast with ERE on this very topic soon. I’m going to give you selection tips in a minute.

First, three major reasons why the vendor selection process can be so hard. keep reading…

These 5 Trends Are Shaping the Future of Pre-hire Assessments

by Feb 21, 2013, 5:36 am ET

2013 is going to present the start of a major tipping point in the way people find and are evaluated for jobs (and vice versa), and a blend of technology and assessment content will play a big role in these ongoing changes.

This opinion is not founded on trends within the pre-hire assessment industry, but rather on the bigger picture of emerging trends in internet technology. I’m talking about major changes in the way humans use information and connectivity to support business and social interactions.

The following are key technology trends that are bigger than any individual industry but are already impacting products being offered in the pre-hire assessment market.  I know about many of these companies because I’ve worked with many of them over the past year. In many cases their products are still not fully completed (and some have even asked not to be mentioned due to this), but 2013 will be a year that sees a ton of new companies live and open for business. keep reading…

Validation: Overcoming Inertia to Prove the Value of Staffing as a Profit Center

by Jan 8, 2013, 6:45 am ET

Screen Shot 2013-01-05 at 2.07.24 PMTalk is cheap. Proving the real value of something is often an exercise that requires intention, dedication, focus, and effort. When it comes to demonstrating value, data and money are among the best pieces of proof one could ask for.

Clearly showing the value of hiring remains a perpetual challenge for those in the staffing game. While it is easy to talk about all of the great things we are doing, it is much harder to turn this talk into the hard proof that business leaders expect (i.e., money).

My research and experience clearly demonstrate that organizations fail to take the proper steps to evaluate the impact of their hiring processes. This is especially true when it comes to the use of pre-hire assessment tools. In fact, the proper evaluation of pre-hire assessments is actually the exception rather then the norm. This is unfortunate because a lack of effort in this area can keep a company from realizing its potential while costing it big time.

The reason most companies consistently fail to evaluate the impact of their pre-hire assessments is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that many companies just don’t care enough or aren’t willing to put in the effort it takes to make it happen. We all know that proving the value of your hiring process is not easy, but what things of value truly are?

The complex answer has to do with to the geeky side of things — specifically the methodological issues that accompany “test validation” and the science of hiring (for a through discussion of this see here).

Validation is important because it is the avenue via which staffing practices demonstrate value.  While there are several types of validation, the most effective type for demonstrating real-world impact of the hiring process involves a systematic investigation of the relationship between pre- and post-hire data. This is known as “criterion related validation” — an analytics-driven process that is essentially business intelligence applied to the hiring process ). We I/Os have been doing this type of work for a good five decades now and have found results we can really be proud of.

Despite our success with it, validation is tricky and presents some inherent difficulties that can obscure its value and therefore its popularity. These include: keep reading…

Success With Pre-hire Assessment Starts With Using the Right Tool at the Right Time

by Nov 28, 2012, 5:35 am ET

While there are many possible ways to use pre-hire assessments, there are some general truths associated with getting the most out of these tools. A good hiring process is a coordinated effort in which the right tool is selected for use at the right time in the process. In many cases talent acquisition professionals (including many of us I/O psychologists) are guilty of being myopic, choosing to focus on the ins and outs of one specific test. Be thorough when it comes to tests, but an effective hiring process requires a focus not only on the individual pieces, but also on the way these pieces work together.

“The funnel” provides the most tried-and-true analogy for configuring components to create a hiring process. Although the funnel may look vastly different in different situations, (for instance more emphasis on screening in high-volume situations), the overall goal is to evaluate people who are unknown to the organization in order to thin the herd while finding those who have what it takes.

While a winning hiring process should include tests, simply chucking a test in the hopper will not get the job done. Despite the many variations possible when constructing a funnel-based hiring process, there are some universal truths regarding what tools are generally most effective at various stages of the process.

Let’s take a look at a quick summary of the ideal components of a holistic and cohesive hiring process, as well as a generally accepted rough order in which they should be used.

Sourcing: Increasing the Odds Outside the Funnel keep reading…

Computers Aren’t Ready to Take Over Hiring

by Oct 11, 2012, 5:28 am ET

Scientist at Xerox

If you are into the use of technology to support the hiring process, read the recent Wall Street Journal article about algorithmic hiring.

It offers a very real glimpse into the future of hiring. To those companies who are looking for ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the hiring process, the value returned by the newest wave of advanced technology can be significant.

But it would be wrong to blindly accept that computers are poised to take over the hiring process from human hands.

As a traditionalist who also embraces change and loves technology, I straddle two sides of this issue. I believe in the value of algorithms and data to help optimize and automate decision-making. However, the role of humans in the hiring process cannot and should not be replaced.

The last book I read, The Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku, provided me with some really good perspective on this issue. This is a fantastic book in which the author, a physicist, uses factual scientific information to predict what we can expect in the near future.

The author discusses the future of the workforce and suggests that by midcentury (2030-2070) almost all lower-level jobs will be automated. He goes on to suggest that the types of jobs that will not be automated will be those that require “the one commodity that robots cannot deliver: common sense.”

The inability of machines to think creatively and to have intuition creates a limitation to their use and value. So, while the wealth of information available to us will be staggering, it will still take a human brain to digest it, evaluate it, and make decisions that cannot be programmed or made using algorithms.

I could not agree more with Kaku and when it comes to machines and hiring, we need to keep a sense of realism about what we can expect machines to do. More than anything we need to see them as a helpful tool to make experts better, not as a substitute for human intelligence.

Know this about hiring by algorithm: keep reading…

IBM’s Acquisition of Kenexa: A Sign of the Times for 3 Trends in HR Technology

by Sep 20, 2012, 3:42 am ET

By now we’ve all heard the news about IBM’s acquisition of Kenexa and have likely read a few of the many opinions about the meaning and implications of this blockbuster deal.

In some sense this deal represents a logical pinnacle of a trend that has been going on for the past five or so years. While some have referred to this trend as the “death” of talent management, I prefer to look at it as the birth of a new era for humans and the organizations they call home.

No matter how you feel about it, this deal is about data and the ability to apply it to HR and organizational performance. The combined IBM/Kenexa organization will blend IBM’s capabilities with data with Kenexa’s ability to harvest data across HR functions using a mature set of tools such as ATS, surveys, and assessments, while helping IBM gain additional competency in the measurement of human traits that are important for defining, evaluating, and managing performance within the workplace.

The ability to provide sound measurement of the human elements that are required for effective job and organizational performance is a critical supplement to the type of raw empirical data IBM is used to working with. As we move forward, the real value in HR systems will not be in simply ballistic (unguided) data crunching, but rather in blending it with rationally guided measurement captured and managed within HR software and systems.

It will likely take a few years before we the consumer see any direct impact of this deal. In the here and now, it has meaning because it shows that pre-employment assessment has finally hit the big time and is poised to become the visible face of three major trends that are shaping the future of how people relate to work and vice versa. keep reading…

The Assessment Time Capsule: What Has and Has Not Changed in the World of Pre-employment Assessment

by Aug 7, 2012, 2:52 pm ET

I was cleaning the attic the other day when I discovered a book that Kevin Wheeler and I put together back in the fall of 2001. This dusty tomb provided me with a treasure trove of insight along with a good deal of food for reflection.

Our book, titled “ Screening and Assessment: Best Practices” includes a variety of information about screening and assessment tools including the results of a usage survey examining use patterns for assessment tools, a summary of best practices for screening and assessment, and predictions for the future.

While a full review of the information in this book is beyond the scope of this article, it provides some highlights that are worth sharing. This book simultaneously provides strong evidence for both some immutable laws around effective assessment usage as well as great insight into the changes that are driving the continued evolution of screening and assessment tools.

Assessment Usage

The survey summarized in this book is very important if for no other reason then it was the genesis of the Rocket-Hire assessment usage survey which had a six-year run here on ERE (and which will return in a new format in the near future).

In general, the usage data were not extremely surprising given the nascent state of on-line assessment a decade ago. Here are the highlights: keep reading…

Smarterer: The Future of Employment Testing Is Wide Open

by Jul 10, 2012, 5:35 am ET

Every once in a while I take notice of a new company that seems to be flying under the radar. Smarterer is one such company I believe it is quietly going about the business of changing the testing industry as we know it.

What Is Smarterer? keep reading…

Analytics and Technology Have Led Us to the Doorstep of Assessment’s “Golden Era”

by Jun 7, 2012, 5:16 am ET

As I continue to attend conferences and hear awesome speeches about analytics such as the one by Josh Bersin, I am thoroughly convinced that talent acquisition (testing and assessment included) are at the beginning of a new era. The coming decades will represent not just a new era for testing and assessment, but rather its “golden era.” I began talking about this trend almost a decade ago, and I continue to watch for signs of the major transition that is currently underway.

Way More Insight

The past decade saw Internet technology freeing employment testing from the shackles of paper-based administration and reporting. As it got easier to do tests, there was a big increase in the use of pre-employment testing and the testing industry changed. A byproduct of this shift was a veritable cornucopia of data that has better allowed us to understand the factors that predict performance in almost every job and industry.

The coming decades will be all about the ability to use data and technology to gain incredible new levels of insight around people and their relation to the workplace — and to use this insight to realize new levels of efficiency and effectiveness.

Here are some of the things that will provide unprecedented ability to understand the relationship between people and jobs both in the near and the not to distant future. keep reading…

The Real Value of Wonderlic … Insights From the #1 Fan of Football and Testing

by Apr 26, 2012, 2:23 pm ET

As we gear up for the upcoming NFL draft this weekend, teams (and their fans) are studying, analyzing, prognosticating, and deciding which talent they should hire to help them achieve their goals.

In my preparations for the draft I recently ran across a really great article by Field Yates about the role of cognitive testing as one of the many pieces of predictive data used to help teams make player personnel decisions.

As a rabid fan of both testing and football and a self-proclaimed expert in each, I feel we can all learn a lot from the situation discussed in this article.

The article uses the controversy around the fact that Morris Claiborne, a cornerback who is projected to be a high first-round pick, did very poorly on the Wonderlic Exam (a cognitive ability test that all draft entrees are required to complete). The author suggests that Claiborne’s seemingly impossibly low score may actually be the result of a learning disability that will likely not hamper his on-field performance and uses this story as a lead-in to discuss the issue of using tests as a surrogate predictor of on-field performance.

I really enjoyed the author’s take on the importance of testing as a predictor of performance.

Just like a near-perfect score doesn’t equate to guaranteed success, a far-from-perfect score does not signal impending failure.

The point is — and this is what has been lost in the recent Claiborne headlines — the Wonderlic exam will always be a part of the draft equation, at least until a better metric is derived to replace it.

The premium each organization places on a particular Wonderlic score will inevitably vary; consensus is a rarity in personnel evaluation.

But what will always remain true is that every available tool to measure a player’s ability — the Wonderlic, 40-yard dash, bench press, and most importantly his film—is a piece of the draft puzzle.

I could not agree more with the author’s take on the value of testing as one piece of the bigger picture, the value of which is determined by the situation and the goals of the individuals who are responsible for making decisions. In my own work with testing and assessment I tend to recommend a model that focuses on the collection of a variety of data points. They all tap into different things that are important for success. Some can weed applicants out at key points in the hiring process; collectively, they can be “added up” at the end of the process to provide the data needed to make an informed final decision between candidates.

Here are a few more thoughts about the parallels between the article’s main points about predicting success in sports and my own insights around predicting success in the workplace. keep reading…

Grow Up Already! Evaluating Your Pre-employment Assessment Maturity Level

by Apr 11, 2012, 6:00 am ET

I have worked with hundreds of organizations over the years to help them with the care and feeding of their assessment programs. The starting point for my client dialogues are often vastly different. In some cases I am assisting I/O psychologists who are working on cutting-edge innovative programs. In others I am helping to clean out low-quality legacy vendors who have long ago lost their support base, but somehow continue to exist.

The proper use of assessments is not an easy proposition. Doing it right is something that takes dedication and hard work, and even the most advanced companies must continually make improvements. But these same companies will tell you that the results to be obtained are well worth the effort.

The good news is that it has never been easier for companies to reach a relatively mature state with their assessment programs. Accessibility to quality assessment tools has never been better. As I continue to talk to and work with companies to help them with various aspects of their assessment programs, I have developed a rough set of guidelines to help me evaluate the company’s maturity level with using predictive hiring tools.

The following is a brief list of the key markers across three levels of maturity. keep reading…

The BAT Signal! More Evidence That the Best Business Leaders Value Assessment

by Mar 15, 2012, 5:10 am ET

I continue to be excited by what I am seeing in the world of assessments.

Recently a client told me about a new assessment program that made my ears perk up.  It’s called the Bloomberg Assessment Test (BAT) and it’s yet another piece of solid evidence that the use of pre-employment assessment is being seen as a value-add by business leaders across the globe.

To me the BAT says that the highest echelons of the corporate boardroom are starting to gain some clarity about the value that quality assessment tools can provide in predicting outcomes that have a direct business impact.

We have the dawn of the era of big data to thank for this. All facets of business are now using predictive data modeling to help them make better decisions. While HR is a bit behind in this area (in what area is HR not behind?), it is catching up fast as more tools are becoming available to support the collection and analysis of data. The results, even at this stage of the game, are proving to be amazing.

Those setting the pace in the financial world (such as Bloomberg) are not only on board, they are actually driving the train — showing the rest of the business world the value of predictive pre-hire data to the achievement of valued business outcomes.

Here’s the skinny on the BAT.

What Is It? keep reading…

Matching: the Newest Flavor of Assessment Tools

by Feb 16, 2012, 5:46 am ET

I continue to be impressed by the evolution of pre-employment assessment tools. This evolution is being driven by the continued growth of the value proposition assessment provides. As a result, an increasing number of new product include embedded assessments designed to help predict which applicants have the best chance of success.

This past year has brought a proliferation of firms that are using assessments to provide a new twist on matching online job applicants with job openings (and conversely allowing firms to match their job openings to candidate data residing in a database).

To understand the origin of Internet based matching, one has to turn the clock back about 15 years to the dawn of the job board. Job boards provided arguably the biggest overall change to the status quo for the way — both in the way people are hired because of the increased ability for individuals to find out about job opportunities, as well as for those hiring, to locate viable candidates.

Things have not changed much as even in the present day. The basic Internet job search equation involves a matching process in which each party provides information about who they are and what they are looking for. Behind-the-scenes algorithms living on servers evaluate the data provided by each party and calculate a match.

Although the job boards would argue otherwise, my basic description of the matching process used by most of them can be summed up with the phrase “garbage in, garbage out.” keep reading…