Recruitement and selection of a pharmaceutical sales represenative (draft)
SECTION 1 RECRUITEMENT AND SELECTION OF PHARMACEUTICAL SALES REPRESENTATIVES CHAPTER 1 1. Introduction This book is about transition from the role of a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative to a Pharmaceutical Sales Manager. Those who are aspiring for it may find it challenging and those who have already been assigned this role may find it a difficult task. The fact is that it is both challenging and difficult. The first challenge is to understand the difference between the roles. After completing this chapter, you should be able to: • Reiterate the responsibilities of a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative • Describe the competencies or behaviors to be demonstrated by a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative • Understand the rationale of transition process • Outline the role and responsibilities of a Pharmaceutical Sales Manager • Describe competencies or behaviors to be demonstrated by a Pharmaceutical Sales Manager • Clearly differentiate between these roles • Comprehend how to take control of the transition process and new roleAs a pharmaceuticals sales representative, everyone’s job is to SELL. Selling iscarried out in three stages: • Pre-Call Planning • Sales Call • Post Call AnalysisPre-Call planning includes all activities carried out before a sales call and wouldinclude (but not necessarily limited to: • Medical Knowledge • Product Knowledge • Selling Skills 1
A Sales call is normally composed of: • Opening • Probing • Reinforcing • Offering a Solution • Gaining CommitmentPost Call Analysis consists of matching the outcome to the expectations, makingadjustments on the performance and planning a follow up to continue theprocess over and over.In order to do all of the above, a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep has to demonstratethe following competencies or behaviors irrespective of the type of products he isselling or the customer group he is handling. • Sales Ability and Persuasiveness • Building Strategic Working Relationships • Client/Customer Focus • Communication Skills (Verbal, including presentations) • Achievement Orientation • Tenacity • Self Confidence/Ability to Bounce Back • Stress ToleranceThe most usual form of transformation to a pharmaceutical sales manager is the‘promotion’ of Pharmaceutical Sales Rep to this position. However, uponassuming the role, a former sales rep comes to realize that now he is supposedto do the following more than anything else. • Find and hire sales reps for his team • Train, develop and coach sales reps • Develop business in his territory though meticulous planning and execution • Measure performance of his team and award/reward or reprimand them judiciously.A further classification of these roles is given below:
SOURCING and SELECTION includes: •Maintaining an up-to-date calendar and schedule of recruiting activities •Using Recruiter contacts and various recruiting sources •Regularly interview candidates and keeping a pipeline •Keeping complete candidate files which include: § Resume § Completed interview guides with competency questions § Multiple interviewers used and their opinions § Field visit form § Reference checks • Has key competitor’s org charts •PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT includes: • “Orientation” program that essentially includes § Clinical training § Sales and Selling Skills training § Comprehensive Administration orientation • Personnel files for each subordinate and updated quarterly § Individual development plan for each rep in SMART goal format § Completed and signed Performance Goals on file • Organized sales bags including key literature, clinical articles, sales tools etc. • Business plans and account profiles • “Weekly Action Plan of a Manager” • Weekly Activity Review • Quarterly travel calendar • Coaching and MentoringBUSINESS DEVELOPMENT • Knowledge and understanding of strategic map • Competitor activity, products and tactics • Target and stretch plan by rep and total division • Market share information for key products • Quarterly business reviews and plans • Sales objectives alignment to strategic map • Reps commission plans • Quarterly incentive programs • Sales reports
§ Sales history reports § By rep and customer • Territory/division monthly sales reports against plan • Monthly sales forecast with target accuracy of +/- 3% of actual • Monthly/Quarterly sales meetings that include product knowledge testing and role play sessions on selling skills model for focus on key products or key strategies • Special pricing / bundling agreement analysis file • Ensures physician sponsorship process is followedPERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT • Translation of Strategy into Action • Understanding of the performance measurement systems • Clear description of Goals, Objectives, Targets, Initiatives • Designing of awards, rewards and reprimand systems on the basis of strategy and strategic objective It has been researched and proven by many that using successful sales performance alone as the basis for promoting sales reps to sales management is associated with negative outcomes and is often not fruitful. This is finding seems correct because the key performance demands of sales managers are characteristically different from the key performance requirements of sales reps. Likewise management behaviors are very dissimilar to selling behaviors. The key difference between the two roles is that “Planning and Organizing” is Sales Manager’s most critical competency and ‘advising’ its least; whereas ‘advising’ is Sales Rep’s most critical demand and “Planning and Organizing” is not. Therefore the two most critical functions of the Sales Manager and Sales Rep roles are opposite to one another. While it is a common practice to promote Pharmaceutical Sales Reps to Sales Manager positions, it poses two great challenges: the first challenge is to find, assess, predict and recruit sales reps who have demonstrated competencies required for a sales rep as well as a sales manager as outlines above so that when they get promoted to sales managers, they perform at par with the expectations. The second challenge is that focus of training of sales rep from the very start should not be on the requirements of a rep alone but should include a series of interventions that can help develop the incumbent for a future management role.
References1 Mole, G., “In search of ‘competency’: constructs of managerial effectivenessin an international financial service organization”, MSc dissertation inorganizational behavior, 1993.2 Boyatzis, R.E., The Competent Manager; Wiley, New York, NY, 1982.3 McClelland, D.C., “Testing for competence rather than for intelligence”,American Psychologist, Vol. 28, 1973, pp. 1-14.4 Margerison, C.J. and McCann, D.J., Team Management Resource,Buckingham Management Resource, 1987.5 Margerison, C.J. and McCann, D.J., Types of Work Profile Handbook, TMSUK Ltd, York, 1992.6 Margerison, C.J. and McCann, D.J., Team Management, Mercury Books,W.H. Allen, London, 1990.7 Cattell, R.B., Eber, H.W. and Tatsuoka, M.M., Handbook for the SixteenPersonality Factor Questionnaire (16 PF), Institute for Personality and AbilityTestingInc., 1970.8 Eysenck, H.J., The Biological Basis of Personality, Charles Thomas,Springfield, IL, 1967.9 Ziyal, L., “The single psychological test (or test system): measuring forhope”, Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 6 No. 2, 1991.10 Davies, R.V., The Team Management Index Test Manual and Guide forMembers of the TMS Network, TMS UK Ltd, York, 1992, p. 6.
Chapter 2 The Quest for Right People“I have a strange problem” commented one of our friends, who is a seasonedsales manager with a big conglomerate, “I used to hire the best people as mysales reps but they would leave my company within one to two years and moveto other jobs or companies. Then I started looking for mediocre and now mysales are not growing as per the expectations. What is my problem?”“Your problem is simple: You are making decisions based on your judgment ofanybody being the “best” or a “mediocre”. You are simply not finding the rightpeople for the right job”Comments and discussions of this sort are not new. They have been around foryears. I have had many debates with my colleagues when they would simply nothire someone whom they thought was “too good” or “too bad” for them. Theynever realized the fact that it is not a question of being good or bad. It is aquestion of not having a process whereby the decision is made on the basis ofjob requirements and personality traits.One of the studies done by Herb Greeberg1 et al found out that 55% of thepeople earning their living in sales should be doing something else! Quite simply,they do not have the personality attributes that are need to succeed in sales.Another 20-25% have what it takes to sell but they should be selling somethingelse. These individuals could be successful in some selling situations but they areonly marginal performers in their current sales positions. This leaves only 20% ofsalespeople selling the products or services best suited to their personality. Thesame studies indicate that this 20% of properly placed people is precisely thesame group of individuals responsible for selling 80% of what is sold.In the local as well as global pharmaceutical industry, there are generally twoclassical approaches to hiring:First, there are managers who would hire people based on their ‘feelings’ andtheir personal ‘likes and dislikes’. They feel comfortable with someone withwhom they can ‘get-along’ or someone who would ‘fit into the culture’ meaningthereby that their selected candidate will subjugate himself to the wishes anddesires of their manager without much disruption.The second type of the managers are the ones in a rush to ‘fill in positions’ andwould not spend much time and effort on hiring. They would love to accept
people through referrals or the recruitment agencies. Later on, they find out theywere ‘grossly wrong’ in selecting the required people but are then left scratchingtheir heads and trying to justify the high agency costs toppled with trainingcosts, not even daring to talk about the lost business during these troubledintervals.Over a period of years, companies have evolved stringent criteria for theselection of medical reps. The processes are lengthy. Some even call it firewallmeaning that they can never make a mistake of having the wrong person onboard. But lets take a closer look at these basic criteria:Education: At least first class Bachelors’ degree in Life Sciences. B-Pharmacy and Master’s degree holders will be preferred.Experience: 2-3 years of experience in a multinational companyAge: Less than 25 yearsThe company then goes on to list the other skills required: ExcellentCommunications Skills, Presentations Skills, Selling Skills, Proficiency inComputers etc. Etc.The candidates then go through the extensive process of sending their CV’s inreturn of which they receive an application form. On short listing, they are calledfor a series of tests and interviews that goes on over a period of weeks.Unfortunately studies have revealed that the odds are about 4 to 1 that youwould still be hiring the wrong person.All easy paths lead to mediocrity. If we are too rigid on our high standards setout in our criteria we are likely to hit bumps. Take age for example: If by luck wefind a high flyer who did his Masters with Flying colors at the age of 22, joined amultinational company as a medical rep and worked there for two years, nowwants to switch over to a new company is highly likely to move on within one totwo year to a new position.Experience is another disillusioning criteria. We sometimes tend to forget thatthe candidate we think, we are ‘poaching’ from a competitor after three years ofworking with them must bring in high quality training and tricks of the trade forour benefit. To our surprise, we find out that this was a mediocre at competitoras well and hence only replicating mediocrity to our team.
Education is also sometimes a downer criteria. High achievers in educationsometimes are never satisfied with the sales jobs and soon start looking forsomething more intellectually demanding and rewarding.The Cost of a Bad Hiring Decision:We have done this exercise with many executives in our programs. Thevariations are too much but let’s look at the ‘average’ cost calculations of awrong hiring decision: Description CostAdvertisement X 3 Newspapers 210,000 RsCost of Application Forms and basic tests per candidate 10,000 RsAdministrative Cost of Applications Handling(per candidate) 10,000 RsInterviewing per candidate 10,000 RsCandidate Travel Costs 15,000 RsTraining Costs (20 days @ 10,000 Rs per day) 200,000 Rs6 Months Salary and allowances etc. 150,000 RsLost Sales while the district is uncovered (at least 25% of total) 625,000 RsTotal 1,230,000 RsFigures Valid for Pakistan. For readers elsewhere, the currency conversion rate Rs. 100 = 1 US $ and Rupee Vs Dollar parityis 5 to 1In some cases this calculation has gone up to 4 Million Rs especially in areaswhere business was in the growing phase or coming from a few customers as isthe case with most oncology and biotech drugs.Just imagine the toll this has on the bottom line of your company. This does notinclude soft issues like employee dissatisfaction and morale changes of existingemployees, customers switching to competitors for good and disruption in otherprocedures of the company.First Things First?The foremost and honest question that any manager hiring sales reps must askto himself or herself is the following:What kind of job(s) I expect this sales rep to do?The answer may not be as simple as it looks like. It varies from company tocompany to company, division to division, city to city, drug to drug, and city to
city. However we are giving a template here that should help in most of thecases to prepare a desired profile of the candidate.We are giving an abridged version of the “expectations’ from a pharmaceuticalsales rep in Table: A (We can also call them Job Description)Planning and Organizing • Up-to-date customer profiles § Total customers with their current addresses and telephone numbers § Personal details of all customers (Esp. Date of Birth, Date of Birth of Spouse etc.) § Customer classification according to their potential (A, B, C or any other that could be in practice in a specific company) § Top 20% § Current individual accounts § Potential accounts • Up-to-date account plans § Specific plans for all Key Opinion Leaders § Knows decision process, key decision makers, and decision criteria in all Key Accounts • Sales performance tracking: § Sales History ( MTD, QTD, YTD ) § Versus targets § Versus forecast § Versus same period last year (month, quarter, year) § Targets (monthly, quarterly ,yearly ) § By territory § By account § Sales expectations (monthly, quarterly, yearly ) § Territory § By account • Facilitate the Area Manager to produces yearly, quarterly and monthly forecasts § Realistic plan required to drive performance beyond plan expectations § By account (top actual, potential and priority accounts or projects )
• Weekly Plan and Weekly Review to manager by Friday of each week § Sales objectives listed in SMART goal format • Plans work day to maximize customer contact and selling time § Utilizes full day for selling activities § Maximizes account time – multiple discussions per visit § Minimizes driving or travel time § Schedules early morning and late afternoon sales calls • Understands commission plan and how to maximize income • Knows Annual objectives, Individual Development Plan and works to achieve business and development objectivesBusiness Growth and Selling • Pre-call plan for every call • SMART business objective for every sales call • Focuses selling time and activities on key accounts • Spends a minimum of 4½ days in the field per week • Carries, manages and uses a full, organized sales bag: § Key literature, clinical articles and sales tools in every call § All items in sales bag should be in good and presentable condition • Appropriate use of “selling skills” § Pre-call planning, § opening, § probing, § Reinforcing § Offering a solution § Gaining commitment § Trial usage § Repeat prescriptionContinued usage § Extended usage § Expanded usage § handling objections § Misunderstanding § Real Objections § Skepticism § Disbelief • Regular plan of group interactions, dinner debates, local lectures and seminars etc.
• Clinical knowledge of key products when selling • Articulation and effectively delivery of key messages to all customers • Knowledge of key competitors’ tactics and strategies § Knowledge and understanding of key competitor’s products weaknesses and strengths § Prudent use of comparisons to sell effectively • Commitment at the end of every sales call • Post call analysis • Daily Sales Reports • Monthly reportsArea Management • Product (s) inventory at the distributor warehouse as per corporate policy • Review and assessment of future orders • Appropriate availability of drugs at pharmacist/chemist shelf • Maintains current special pricing / bundling / contract file • Understands and follows sponsorship policy and guidelines • Manages expenses as per corporate policy • Maintains key competitor rep’s file including strengths, weaknesses and tactics and a copy of their promotional toolsOutlook and Conduct • Follows Code of Conduct standards • Displays a consistent and positive attitude • Maintains corporate image at all times • Demonstrates a positive attitude toward team work • Takes responsibility for personal and professional developmentThe list could yet be longer and specific but we are trying to keep it as muchgeneric as possible.In order to make sure to have all what we need from a Sales Rep, we have madea template of the position Profile. Try to fill this out before you move forwardreading the rest of the book.
POSITION PROFILE FOR A MEDICAL REPPosition: Level in the organization:Department: Division: Reported by:Reporting to:INTERNAL CONTACTS: External Contacts:Educational Qualifications: Experience: Mandatory: Preferable:REPORT GENERATION REQUIREMENTS: Training Requirements:Position Objective:Prime Responsibilities:Competency/Behaviors Indicators Weight
Candidate Sources:Managers are facing a big dilemma these days: In the society they come acrossthe following comments quite frequently: 1. The job market is shrinking day by day 2. It is extremely difficult to get jobs without appropriate connections. 3. I did my MBA/graduation last year and still looking for a job 4. I must burn all my degrees. They are of no use to me if I cannot get a job. 5. Candidates are pre-selected. There is no fun appearing for interviews again and again.On the other hand when managers need to induct a new team member, theydon’t know where to track them down. First thing they do is to pick up the phoneand start calling all ‘friends’. These ‘friends’ either don’t remember whocontacted them last week for a job or simply don’t have any! Even if they do,they would like to favor someone who eventually becomes a headache for all.When they advertise, they get a lot of junk, everyone just trying to drop in theirCV’s for the fun of it.Some authentic sources of new as well as experienced pharmaceutical reps couldbe one or all of the following: 1. Universities and colleges offering a degree in Pharmacy 2. Universities producing graduates in Life Sciences 3. Career ladders from within your organization 4. Customers who can be referrals 5. Referrals from your present sales reps 6. Competition 7. Corporate Database 8. Professional organizations 9. Pharmaceutical Distributors 10. Personal Networks 11. Advertisements in quality newspapers with nationwide circulation 12. Recruiters 13. The Internet 14. Outsourcing firms and job fairs
15. Suppliers and vendorsTHE SELECTION PROCESS: WHATS APPROPRIATE AND WHATS NOT...We all tend to think we are a pretty good judge of skills. “A guy walks in throughthe door; I make up my mind whether or not to hire him. The rest of theinterview is just a routine” Commented one of the very senior colleagues.It said that impressions are made within the first 30 seconds of meeting? Ourbrains come pre-programmed to evaluate others based on a quick "snapshot."This tendency to form quick opinions might be time-efficient, but it is oftenhighly inaccurate. If we had a system to analyze what happens after two orthree or ten years with that new hire, most of us would tend to shy away fromthe discussion on our depressing track record.The following chart illustrates some of the most common selection methods andtheir average "predictability". The numbers were gathered from hundreds ofcontrolled studies. Selection Method "Predictability" Handwriting Analysis 0% Age 0% Amount of Education 0% Self Assessment 3% Projective Tests 3% Traditional Interviews 4% Grade Point Averages 4% Expert Recommendations 4% Personality Tests 4% Motivation 4% Reference Check 6% Biographical Data 9% Situational Interviews 9% Behavioral Event Interviews 10% Mental Ability Tests 25% Content Valid Simulations 64% Adapted from a meta-analysis conducted by Hunter and Hunter, Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 96, 1984. Percentages have been rounded.
We just need some common sense to understand why most of these figures areso low. For example, an experienced manager would tell you that handwriting,age, or amount of education cannot be directly related to job performance. Thisis not to say that good managers are not well educated, but it does say thatdegrees dont guarantee good management skills.The next seven selection methods are slightly more predictive. Self-assessment,projective tests, and traditional interviews are all self-presentations of how aperson would like to be seen. These methods are easy to fake and provide littlejob-skill data. Our students always argue with us on good Grade point averagesbut we always tell then that grade point averages are useful for your satisfactionand graduation, but not for job performance. Our teacher at SGBS once said thatthe best among you would be the last to find a good job. This actually happened.Our best graduate and gold medalist got a job 11 months after doing his MBA!Expert recommendations, personality tests, motivation tests provide about thesame percentage of usable data. They still arent great. Their low predictabilityeither comes from "halo" or not understanding how personality affectsperformance.The next four methods (reference checks, bio-data, situational interviews, andbehavioral event interviews) are more accurate - not great, but several timesbetter than the first 10 methods. If you look closely, these methods require morerigor, some training, are more focused on the elements of the job. This makesthem more accurate and harder to fake. Still, as good as they seem, they leaveabout 90% to chance.The last two methods are among the most powerful performance predictors.Unfortunately, if you look at mental alertness tests through a demographic filter,you will see a long history of adverse impact. Is this a problem? Not if you havedone your homework. The government does not require you to hire unqualifiedpeople, but it does require you to show that intelligence test scores arecorrelated with acceptable job performance. That is good for both applicants andthe organization.Simulations are among the most accurate predictors. Simulations are widely usedto qualify and train aircraft pilots, tank crews, ship crews, transport navigators,military specialists, sales people, managers, customer service reps, and a host of
other occupations. Simulations are particularly good when specialized skills areneeded for high job performance.Its normal to make mistakes. Its foolish not to learn from them. And, it isirresponsible for hiring professionals not to strive to get better.Imagine that you are standing before your Board of Directors asking to rentsome equipment. You tell them it costs 500,000 Rs a year and its price willincrease 6-10% annually. You have no idea if it will perform like the demo andthere is even a 50/50 chance it will be a low producer. It cannot be upgraded orrepaired and might quit working any time. Furthermore, you might get sued ifyou terminate its contract. You conclude by assuring the Board that overallproductivity will be maintained by renting several excess machines to make upfor its inefficiency.Sounds crazy? Unfortunately the same happens every time you hire aPharmaceutical Sales Rep.No organization knowingly hires weak reps, but separating truth from fictionduring the selection process is an enormous challenge. Experienced managersalready know why reps fail - they just have trouble measuring it. Just look attheir hiring tools... § Interviews: People who pass an interview have about a 50% chance of being a high producer. § First Impressions: Managers who normally demand detailed cost justifications for purchasing office equipment pride themselves on hiring people based on almost no objective data. § Bad tests: Many of the so-called "tests" used for selection have absolutely no documented relationship with performance on the job.The results of faulty measurement are disastrous. The numbers should not shockyou. Look at sales. Do 20% of the sales reps produce 80% of the business?Now, think about the managers you have worked for. Have more than 20% beentruly competent? Its amazing to consider that organizations usually have a morerigorous set of technical specifications for purchasing a desktop computer thanfor selecting a 500,000 Rs a year rep!
In this book, we will be briefly discussing generally accepted methods ofinterviewing and selection. It is the discretion of managers to prefer one methodover the other depending on time, resources, trained people and mostimportantly the will!Structured Application FormsAn application form is a structured form developed by the company offering thejob, which the candidate completes. This may be in addition to a résumé, or asa replacement. Résumés may, when application forms are required, beoptional.A supplemental application form does not replace a CV. It seeks additionalinformation in specific areas that are shaped by the key criteria you are seeking.For example, you might ask about experience of working in teams, or even askthem to write a short piece about their views of the dynamics of yourmarketplace.A form that replaces a résumé must gather all information that is required,including contact information, job history, personal statements and education,as well as any specialized job-related information you require. Development of asupplemental application form starts with a good job analysis, from which keycriteria which are to be sought are extracted and parts of the form designedwhereby data may be reliably gathered.Design of the form should be to include clear instructions such that thecandidate is in no doubt about what is required in each field. This may includecheck boxes of various forms for basic facts (e.g. male/female or a checklist forcomputer application skills), single-line fields for short items such as their name,and larger boxes for free-format descriptions, such as descriptions of theirresponsibilities in various jobs.If the form is to be on paper, then standard graphic design principles should beused, such as clear use of space, fitting coherent sets of information on a singleside of paper, etc. If the form is for use on the web, then web design principlesshould be used, such as coping with resizing of windows, clear submit button,etc.Application forms are very popular, being used by 93% of UK firms (Shackletonand Newell, 1991), and have found increasing popularity with the web (Park,
1999 and Reed, 2002), where online completion of forms eases data captureand ensures standardization.The application form is the employer’s alternate to the CV. This provides themwith an initial selection tool that can be used to create a short-list based onwhat is required by the job rather than what the applicant chooses to tell.Application forms are finite, and long forms are likely to put off some candidates(although this may be of benefit to put off the casual applicant).Application forms used a great deal on the web and facilitate automatedfiltering, where a job may have many applicants and individual sections may bescanned for specific key words (such as qualifications or experience).Application forms, like CVs, are self-reports and hence due care is requiredduring their screening. Information provided in the application forms by theparticipants needs to be counterchecked from sources.A good candidate will prepare well the application form, as it often hints at (oreven shouts about) the key criteria that the recruiting company is seeking.Design of Application Forms must take care about legal constraints. If there isany legal challenge to the application process, the motivation for any item in theapplication form could be challenged. Both the language and content ofapplication forms thus needs to be carefully screened for bias and sensitivity. Forexample if ethnic background is being questioned, then there must be alegitimate reason for this (and the wording must also be ‘politically correct’). Icame across an application form of a big multinational company that included asection of “Religion” and “Sect”. When I questioned the HR Manager on this,instead of being apologetic, he became reactive, not realizing that this could bechallenged in any court of law even in Pakistan. International guidelines on sucha possible discrimination are definitely much more stringent and can lead anorganization into disaster.BiodataBiodata methods collect biographical information about a person that has beenproven to correlate with good job performance. The correlations can be quitestrange: all you need is to know that if a person has a certain item in theirhistory that they are more likely to be good at the target job.
For example, in World War 2, the US Air Force discovered that men who hadbuilt and flown model aircraft when they were boys were more likely to makegood fighter pilots. In 1952, Mosels detailed study of department store salesstaff found that the most successful people were widowed, female, 35-54 yearsold, between 4 foot 11 inches and 5 foot 2 inches, weighed at least 160pounds, lived in a boarding house, had dependants, had a high-schooleducation, had at least five years sales experience but had been in the previouspost for less than five years with no time off for illness.More recent and understandable events can also be used, for example workingon government projects might correlate with effective use of projectmanagement methodologies. Biodata can include aspects of personalinformation, childhood, education, employment, external experiences, skills,socioeconomic status, social activities, hobbies and personal traits andcharacteristics.Biodata is collected using a written form, structured to discover the keyinformation that is required. The target people complete the form and hand itin, where it is studied for the key characteristics being sought.First start off by defining the performance that you are seeking. This should bein a form that will help you with the next step, for example using standarddescriptions of leadership or technical ability.Find a significant population from which you can extract sufficient numbers ofhigh performers in the job you are analyzing. Thus a large company may studyinternational managers who have proven successful at managing virtual teams,whilst an army may seek individual soldiers who have shown exemplarybattlefield bravery (perhaps via those who have been awarded medals).Design a structured and repeatable data collection method to extract as muchbiographical information as you can handle. This may include investigation ofchildhood events, education, jobs performed and self-reported significant lifeevents.Approaches such as Critical Incident Technique, Interview and Structuredquestionnaires may be used to collect information. Each method used willtypically expose different information, allowing different facets of the person tobe examined.
This step is largely statistical, as the biographical data is coded and correlatedwith job performance.Scoring is done with ‘item responses level keying’. • Empirical approach: look at proportion of variance accounted for between item and outcome criteria. • Rational approach: job experts devise weightings based on theoretical a priori links.Draft a questionnaire for each hypothesized scale and apply to a large sample(450). Each question is tested and results are factor analyzed to find (desirable)clustering.When collecting biodata information, it can be a good idea to hide the keycharacteristics you are seeking within other irrelevant information (which alsomay be found in your researches). Where possible, collect hard, verifiable items(such as examinations passed). Where this is not possible, the potential forfaking must be taken into account.Biodata may be collected in scripted format: Please describe a time when you were faced with a difficult customer. What was said? What did you do? What has the result? (Please answer in no more than 200 words).It is very often, however, collected in more structured formats that allow forrigorous analysis: Which of the following have you done in the past five years? Please tick all that apply: [ ] Climbed a high mountain [ ] Been on holiday to at least three different countries [ ] Run a marathon [ ] Raced a carFinally, try it out, for example on the people who supplied the data in the firstplace.
Biodata is little known but is widely used (the first recorded use was in Chicagoin 1894). It has nothing to do with biological aspects of the person, but hasmuch to do with their biography (biodata is short for biographical data, notbiological data). Done well it has a high level of reliability and validity.Unlike many other tools, biodata has a solely empirical root. There is nopsychological theory behind it. It simply finds what works and does notquestion why. The founding hypothesis is that statistics holds true, and thatcorrelations found in some people will also be found in other people.Developing biodata tests is very time-consuming and hence costly. This goessome way to explain its use in particular areas, for example the military, wherethere is a large population available for study and a consistent need in terms ofjob performance. Biodata is different from personality tests in that it has abroader content and is more specific. It can also be re-scored for different rolesand can be done both by candidate and also by someone they know. Oncedeveloped, it is then quick to process lots of applicants, particularly if multiple-choice tick-boxes are used. Biodata has face validity and is clearly fair as it issame for all. It is also easier to monitor for discrimination.Unless demonstrated to be job-dependent, items about race, gender, maritalstatus, number of dependents, birth order and spousal occupation are likely tobe illegal. Other issues of concern include accuracy, faking, invasion of privacyand adverse impact on perceptions of the applicant. Faking may be minimizedwhen the correlations are not clear. This can be improved further by hiding thereal question amongst other less critical items.Over time, a standard biodata test could lead to less diverse recruiting. It isalso constrained by time and context. It can become dated as jobs change,which may reduce reasons for using it as it takes a lot of effort to set up in thefirst place. Same test may not be useful across the world – problem for globalcompanies.Résumé / Curriculum VitaeThe résumé (USA) or CV (UK) is a personal summary of an applicants historythat may include: • Contact details • Summary statement about the person, characterizing them and their ambitions.
• Experience (usually the main body of the application) • Qualifications, both academic and professional • Hobbies and other interestsTwo common forms of résumé are the functional résumé and the historicrésumé. In the functional résumé, the applicant takes a list of particular skillsand knowledge and gives evidence of their ability in each item. In the historicresume, they summarize achievements for job positions in historic order(usually with the more recent jobs first).The résumé is probably the most common tool used in selection, at least in theinitial selection process where it is often used as the basis for initial shortlisting(at least for external candidates --- internal selection often does not use therésumé). Care must be taken here, as when there are many candidates, it iseasy to throw the baby out with the bathwater, filtering out good ones as wellas the less desirable ones.The résumé is a self report and, as such, may be economical with the truth orcontain exaggerations and even complete fabrication. Applicants know theimportance of their résumé, which may get only a few seconds of attentionbefore is rejected, and so may take inordinate care over their construction. Awell-crafted résumé may indicate that the person is careful and skilful. It mayalso be true that they paid a professional to write it for them. It is also likelythat they have thought hard about what to tell you and what not to tell you. Amore amateur layout could be less polished but it may also be more naive andhonest.As the first thing that the recruiter sees about a person and also the mostcommon tool used in interviews, it often has a disproportionate effect.For use in interviews, key aspects that match job criteria may be extracted andused to help probing. If the person is lying in the résumé, you may spot thisduring the more detailed questioning. You may also follow up with referees(although do remember that these also were selected by the candidate).CVs are written by the candidate and are intended to show them in their bestlight and hence are unlikely to include negative elements. The CV may thus betaken as an indicator only, with verification of key items by other methods,such as following-up of references, questioning during interview and testing ofskills by a work sample.
Without care, recruiters may easily seduced by subtle elements of the CV thathave been shown to have undue effect. For example, when comparing CVs,Impression Management elements such as competency statements (Bright andHutton, 2000) have been shown to have a positive effect.The CV itself, even when used with other methods, may have adisproportionate influence on selection (Robertson and Smith, 2001), perhapsdue to its familiarity or ready availability (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974).Deselection on racial and other grounds is illegal, including by CV. There arecases where minority activists have send two CVs to a company, identical apartfrom racial exaggeration or hiding, and then suing the company when theyreceive a response only on the non-racial CV.The candidate is also subject to legislation here: if they lie on their CV and areappointed on these ‘facts’, then this may be grounds for later dismissal.
Chapter 3 – Psychometric Screening and Short-listingPsychometric means ‘mental measurement’. However, psychometric tests areused to measure personality, ability, motivation, competencies, behaviors andinterest of individuals so as to match them with the requirements of theemployer.A psychological test is any procedure on the basis of which inferences are madeconcerning a persons capacity, propensity or liability to act, react, experience, orto structure or order thought or behavior in particular ways.’ The BritishPsychological SocietyThe aim of this Chapter is to act as a practical guide, taking you step by stepthrough the process of selecting the most appropriate psychometric test or tests,in order to provide your own workplace solutions. The word test is not to beconfused. Since most of these processes are not ‘tests’ as such, it is quiteappropriate to use words like instrument, assessment, questionnaire, inventoryor tool for this process.Two main types of psychometric tests are commonly used in the workplace: • General ability tests or Tests of maximum performance • Personality or interest inventories or Tests of typical performanceThe British Psychological Society has set up a Level A and B certificate schemefor test users, which serves as Certificates of Competence in OccupationalTesting. It is strongly recommended that in order to maintain professionalstandards, all test users should seek certification in test use.Psychometric tests are commonly used for: • Selection • Promotion • Managing your team and team development • Personal development: growing potential in the individual • Career counseling and developmentThe benefits of using a good psychometric test or tool to assess people are thatthey give results that are:
• Reliable – able to be trusted, because they are consistent across administrations and sample groups • Systematic – working to a fixed plan • Valid – measures of what the tests set out to measure • Objective – not influenced by personal feelings or opinionsAll test takers can benefit from the fairness and equality treatment because theyare assessed under controlled conditions regardless of diversity of background,gender and age against one another.Testing can help employers to: • Identify high performers with the potential to fit job demands • Facilitate personal and team development through understanding of individuals and team members and their possible interaction. • Improve the motivation and morale of those tested, through acknowledgement of their contribution to organizational development • Utilizing knowledge and understanding of staff’s strengths to place them in appropriate functions and thus increase retention • Identify star performers by developing benchmarks • Clearly demonstrate fairness and equal opportunities for all • Demonstrate consistency over time by using reliable and valid methods of assessment • Reduce time, costs and mismatches in recruitment and selection thereby adding money to the bottom-line • Assist with group training and individual coaching • Deal better with situations like downsizing, mergers, acquisitions etc. by reading pulse in advance for such an organizational changeAccording to an estimate, there could be more than 1,000 tests and toolsavailable. It is imperative that while selecting the tools, it reliability and validitydata must be critically assessed in relation to the requirement and environmentof the organization. Any good test should be fully researched and rigorouslytested before being put into practice. It would not be ‘out of scope’ of the HRdepartment to start collecting its own data of the tool once they decide to use itfor their organization and establish the validity and reliability over a period oftime on its own people.
The following checklist will help avoid any mistakes of selecting an inappropriatepsychometric test: • Does the test come with a user guide explaining how to administer, score, analyze and interpret? • Are there any controlled trials carried out with it? If yes, what was the size of respondents? How were the samples collected? • Was this data published in journals of repute? • What is the test’s reliability strength? • Does it give consistent results, over a period of time? • Has the test been validated across cultures, occupations, age and gender and norms produced for each group? • What are the valid test measures what it purports to measure? E.g. an aspect of self such as ability, personality, behavior, intelligence, motivation or aptitude. • Are faking detectors built in to check for signs of manipulation from the test taker? • Does it match with the job analysis of the attributes actually required to do the job?Test takers have a right to know: • Were the tests are properly constructed? • Who will have access to results? • How confidentiality will be protected? • What assurances will be given to ensure that test scores are not used for purposes other than those agreed with the test taker? • Whether the test users are competent to score and interpret results? • How test scores will be communicated and to whom? • How long test scores will be stored? • What feedback will be given? • How their results will be used and interpreted?In collective settings, team members should agree how their results should beshared amongst each other with respect only to making the team more efficient.Test takers should be given a contact name or phone number if there are anyquestions or issues to be raised.
Users must however exercise extreme degree of caution before considering touse psychometric tests as the only means of making personnel decisions becauseAll tests are subject to error, and can never be 100% accurate. There can beconsiderable deviations in results because of the way in which a candidate willinterpret the words in the questions. Deviations could also be because ofindividual variation, test administration process and time of test during the day.Organizations should be careful of engaging untrained people for administrationand interpretation of psychological tests as they may not understand ‘error ofmeasurement’ and place too much emphasis on accuracy of test resultsComplex nature of work today may not allow sufficient reliability of a singlemeasure of a person from one perspective. Other factors like track record,experience and technical knowledge must also be taken into account for makingan intelligent decision on recruitment. In the next chapters, we will discussadvanced levels of hiring process.
CHAPTER 4. COMPETENCY BASED PHARMACEUTICAL REPRESENTATIVESELECTION and INTERVIEWEmployee Selection is the process of matching people and jobs. The decision-making process in hiring – it typically involves multiple interviews and interviewerratings, and it may make use of performance tests and assessment centers.This Chapter is about what competencies are: How to use the concept andsystems for improving the performance and profitability of organizationsPlease give special attention to this chapter if you:• See problems in your organization and think that competencies could help• Have no clue of competencies but feel that you should know• Have basic knowledge about competencies and are keen to know more• Are in the dark or anxious while your organization intends to roll them out• ish to understand how competencies can help you in your career and work• Are not clear about the concept but your organization uses them• Want to introduce competencies into your organization and need to know how• Are launching competencies and want a concise strategy to give out to staff• Need to revive a redundant competency schemeOr, if there are other challenges such as: • You can’t get the right people for the right job • You can’t retain good people. They join but don’t stay long • You face difficulty or embarrassment in appraisals • Your learning interventions are unfocused or don’t deliver what’s needed • You are inconsistent in the way they you treat your salespeople • You don’t buy in to the organization’s vision and values • You are promoted but don’t perform the new job as expectedThere has been much debate regarding the differences between competence,competency and competent. The Oxford English Dictionary gives (among others)the definitions:Competent (adj) – having adequate skill, properly qualified, effective.Competence (and competency) (n) – power, ability, capacity (to do, for atask etc).
However, in the 1970s two American management consultants of Hay-McBer,David McClelland and Richard E. Boyatzis, carried out research that led to a morespecific use of the term competency that is now widely accepted and used inbusiness.DEFINITION OF (A) COMPETENCYThe most common definitions in recent years are: • “An underlying characteristic of an individual that is causally related to criterion-referenced effective and/or superior performance in a job or situation” (Spencer 1993) • “A characteristic and measurable pattern of behaviours, knowledge and skill that contributes to superior job performance” (Dubois 1993) • A competency describes the behavior or actions that can be seen when a job is being done well.You must realize that on order to improve your sales, you need to have qualitypeople and to get quality people you need a quality selection system. If you getselection right, a lot of your headaches will go away automatically. You must alsounderstand that products or services may change over time and but the behaviorof people seldom changes. That is why the world is adapting the systems ofbehavioral interviewing considering it as the most reliable way of selectingsales reps, who possess the competencies critical to exemplary job performanceand an company’s success.The underlying premise of behavioral interviewing is that past behavior ispredictive of future behavior and thus focuses on past behaviors and askscandidates how they have handled certain situations in the past. A basicconceptual understanding of behavioral interviewing is key to its successfulimplementation. A selection process based on behavioral interviewing initiateswith an identification of the critical competencies associated with performing a jobwell and ends with an assessment of the competencies of the job candidate anddetermining whether they match those of the job.Traditional hiring systems are often based on the technical qualifications for ajob, and traditional interviews focus on detailed discussions of job experience.These interviews are usually based on several “stock” questions, such as: § What are your strengths and weaknesses? § What could you bring to our organization?
§ Why do you want this job? § What do you think makes you the best candidate for this job?Selection decisions are classically based on the “emotional attraction” of theapplicant to the interviewer: “Who do I like the best?” or “Which candidate seemsto compliment my work style?” Formal education, technical knowledge andexperience are important job qualifications, and are often the thresholdrequirements for the job, serving as minimum credentials to make it through thescreening process.However, recent studies have proved that a candidate’s motivations, attitudes,and competencies are better predictors of superior performance. During abehavioral interview, interviewers ask competency-based questions designed toextract information about how the applicant has demonstrated to the specificsituation in the past. For example, in a behavioral interview focusing on theCustomer Focus competency, the interviewer could ask: § Can you tell me about a specific situation where a client (customer) became angry with you because you were unable to provide what he or she wanted? § How did you deal with it? § What was the outcome?The interviewer would then continue to probe for the details that provide insightinto how the candidate handles difficult customer service interactions.Behavioral interviewing requires candidates to provide answers to questionsbased on what they have actually done, rather than what they might imagine theywould do in a hypothetical situation. Behavioral interviews, when properlyconducted, provide in-depth information about the applicant’s actions, motives,thought processes and behaviors because the interviewer has an opportunity toask follow-up questions to gain a much clearer understanding of how thecandidate handles real-life work situations. They also promote an environment ofequal opportunity since they reduce the likelihood of bias due to superficial andpersonal characteristics. It is difficult for the candidate to “fake” a good answerbecause they must provide details in response to probing questions. Answersabout real-life examples can also be verified with reference checks. The qualityof the candidate assessment is comparable to that gained through anassessment center process, but at far less cost.
The steps to develop a competency based interviewing process include: 1. Identifying which job competencies to focus on during interviews. (See Position Profile) 2. Developing an Interview Guide using the behavioral interview questions based on STAR Technique.(Details given below) 3. Interview scheduling and logistics. 4. Scoring and evaluating behavioral interviews.Identify the Competencies to Focus on During the InterviewThere are generally 4 globally established and recognized models of“Competencies”. They are as follows: • Development Dimensions International (www.ddiworld.org) • SHL (www.shl.com) • Hay Group (www.haygroup.com) • Spencer and Spencer, Competence at Work. (www.amazon.com)Out of these 4, only Spencer has ‘scale’ to assess the width and depth of eachcompetency. However, since we are dealing with Pharmaceutical Sales reps, wedo not need to go into so much depth.After years of experience and consensus building, we have identified thefollowing “Critical” or ‘knock-out’ competencies for a pharmaceutical sales rep. • Sales Ability and Persuasiveness • Building Strategic Working Relationships • Client/Customer FocusThe following are ‘essential’ competencies: • Communication Skills (Verbal, including presentations) • Achievement Orientation • Tenacity • Self Confidence/Ability to Bounce Back • Stress Tolerance
It is generally recommended to assess the candidate on 6 to 8 competencies, 3out of which would be critical or ‘knock-out’ competencies, meaning thereby thatif either of them is missing or weak, the candidate does not qualify to be a salesrep.Develop and Ask the Right Interview QuestionsThe next step is to develop questions designed to explore behavior of thecandidate in different situations. The generally revolves around inviting applicantsto “tell their story” about a specific situation in the past where they exhibited aparticular behavior.Each question should elicit three specific pieces of information: (AKA STARTechnique, Situation/Task, Action and Result. 1. A description of the Situation or Task. 2. The applicant’s role, responsibility or Action in the situation or incident. 3. The specific outcome or Result of the situation or incident.For the Stress Tolerance competency, an example of a three-part question wouldbe: Sometimes tensions run high in the kind of work we do. CanSituation you describe a stressful situation or interaction you have had with a supervisor in the past?Role,Responsibility, What did you do? How did you respond?ActionOutcome What happened? What was the final outcome?
Competency-Based Behavioral Interview Questions for a Pharmaceutical Sales RepresentativeSales Ability and PersuasivenessPlease describe a sales situation which had a profound impact on your sellingcareer? § What happened?Possible follow up § What did you do?questions: § What was the outcome?Building Strategic Working RelationshipsCan you tell us about a situation where you found it challenging to build a trustingrelationship with another individual?Possible follow up § How did you go about doing it?questions: § How did it work out?Client/Customer FocusCan you tell us about a time when you had to go ‘out of your way’ to satisfy acustomer demand?Possible follow up § What did you do “extra”?questions: § How did it work out good for you?Communication Skills (Verbal, including presentations)This is a demonstrable competency. The interviewer must either observe it keenlythroughout the interview or get verbal presentation done separately.Achievement OrientationTell us about a complex situation when you felt a strong need of ‘proving yourself’or ‘establishing’ that what you did was the best and only way of handling it? § What were the circumstances?Possible follow up § What did you do?questions: § How did the situation work out?TenacityCan you tell us about a situation where you had to demonstrate ‘nerves of steel’ toremain focused? § How did you do to remain focused?Possible follow up § How many times did you think of ‘chickening out?questions: § How did it turn out?Self ConfidenceCan you recall a particularly situation when you felt ‘good’ about yourself? § What happened?Possible follow up § What was your role in the situation?questions: § Did you do anything specific to feel good? § How did it all work out?Stress ToleranceCan you recall a particularly stressful situation you have had at work recently?
§ What happened?Possible follow up § What was your role in the situation?questions: § Did you do anything specific to deal with the stress? § How did it all work out?
Techniques for Conducting Good Behavioral Interviews § Attempt to put the applicant at ease – The initial step in any good job interview is to help the applicant feel comfortable in what is usually a stressful setting. Engaging in a few minutes of “small talk” usually breaks the ice. Since many applicants have never participated in a behavioral interview, it is helpful to provide a brief explanation of the process at the beginning of the interview. § Give applicants reassurance if they have trouble recalling specific examples – Some applicants will have a difficult time thinking of specific examples in response to certain questions. Encourage them to take some time to think about the question. Remind applicants with little work experience that examples from their college experience or their personal life are appropriate. If an applicant appears to be stuck on a particular question, offer to ask the next question and come back to this question later in the interview. Often, examples that come up in later questions trigger an example from an earlier one. § Keep the applicant focused on the specifics – Some applicants have a tendency to speak in generalities. Watch for phrases like, “I always,” I usually” and I never.” Respond by asking for specifics, by redirecting the applicant with phrases like, “We’re looking for a specific situation,” or “Can you give a specific example of that?” § Keep the applicant focused on what he or she did – Some applicants tend to use the word “we” even when talking about something done individually. Since it is very important to clearly understand precisely what the applicant did, it may be necessary to politely keep reminding the applicant that you are only interested in what he or she did. Offering an explanation of why the applicant needs to use the word “I” usually helps. § Focus the applicants on facts rather than opinions – Some applicants couch their answers in the context of what they believe rather than what they did. If the applicant makes statements such as “Clients are always my top priority,” you should respond by asking them to provide a concrete example. § Keep the applicant focused on past behaviors – Even if you ask for a specific example, some applicants may respond as if they were asked a hypothetical question. Simply remind the applicant that you need specific examples from the past.
Scheduling Interviews and Other Logistics We recommend scheduling one hour to conduct a behavioral interview with applicants. The scoring process usually takes an additional 15 or 20 minutes. If you’re planning to conduct multiple interviews in one day, scheduling them 1½ hours apart is usually sufficient. After you gain experience with the process, you may need to make adjustments. Time Allotments for a Typical Behavioral Interview Introductions, explanation of 5 minutes process & clarification of resume Questions about education, 10 minutes experience & required skills Competency-based questions 40 minutes Applicant questions and wrap-up 5 minutes
Evaluating Competencies § Asking each applicant the same competency-based behavioral questions will ensure a fair evaluation of the applicants on the same set of competencies. § Having an interview panel of three interviews offers a good check and balance during the scoring process. § Have the definitions of the competencies in front of the interviewers during the interview and scoring process – this will help assess proficiency levels. § In assessing the proficiency level of the applicant, ask yourself questions such as: o How recent was the example the applicant described? o How relevant is the example to the job? o How well did the applicant handle the situation described relative to the expectations of our company? o How large was the applicant’s role in the situation described? o Was the outcome described by the applicant a desirable one given the circumstances?FOLLOW-UP: REFERENCE CHECKSNever hire a candidate without checking references. Some golden rules forreference checking: • Don’t rely on testimonials or references given by a candidate - ask a given referee for other referees and contact them. • Always try and contact referees by phone, not in writing. • Phone technique o Ask a general question but don’t bother to listen to the answer. o Pinpoint a possibly negative item from your interview with the candidate and ask referee to comment. o Repeat as necessary and listen to how the answer is given. o Finish by asking ‘Would you re-hire this person if he/she came back to you for a job?’ Be wary of any hesitation. Referees can always find a job for top ex-performers.Always follow up on each interview by informing the candidate of the outcome of
the interview. • Thanks but no thanks (dead file) • Not now but maybe later (active file) • Still too early for decision (pending) • Next step (ie: second interview) • Contract in mail soonNB The reputation of your organization is closely bound to the way you treat ex-candidates. In many instances, applicants answering a question on one competency will provide insight into their proficiency in others as well. During the scoring of one competency, you will find yourself looking back into other parts of your notes to refresh your memory about information relevant to the competency you’re currently scoring.
CHAPTER 5 ASSESSMENT CENTERSThe assessment center is the ultimate mechanism for making a selection decision. Itevolved as a result of the AT&T Management Progress Study (Bray, Campbell, & Grant,1974). This study started in the late 1950s whereby individuals entering managementpositions in Bell Telephone operating companies were assessed and, from then on,their careers were followed. The study was unusual in that it was pure research. Neitherthe individuals assessed nor their bosses were given information about theirperformance in the center. Nor was this information in any way allowed to affectparticipants’ careers. Participants were assessed soon after they entered managementas new college recruits or after they were promoted from the ranks.second assessment also was conducted eight years after the first to follow theparticipant advancement during the ensuing years. (Howard & Bray, 1988). The criterionused was advancement to the fourth level of management in a seven-level hierarchy.Since most individuals had begun to consolidate their management skills after eightyears in management, he eight-year prediction is more valid. Surprisingly the originalassessment ratings were valid even after 20 years.Thornton and Byham (1982) found more support for the assessment center methodthan for other selection methodologies after reviewing 29 studies of the validity ofassessment center methodology. However, most of the studies were done by a fewlarge organizations (AT&T, GE, IBM, SOHIO, and Sears).In 1985 Thornton and his associates at Colorado State University did a meta analysis of220 validity coefficients from 50 studies and estimated the method’s validity at .37(Gaugler, Rosenthal, Thornton, & Bentson, 1985). In another study, Wayne Cascio ofthe University of Colorado arrived at the same figure (.37) in studying the validity of first-level assessment centers in an operating company of the Bell System. Cascio’sprimarily measured the “bottom-line impact” of promotion decisions based onassessment center information against decisions based on criteria extracted from othermethods (Cascio & Ramos, 1984).Compared to other selection methodologies, the assessment center method generally isseen as more fair and objective because of its emphasis on actual behavior rather thanpsychological constructs. There is consistent research showing that assessmentcenters are unbiased in their predictions of future performance. These studiesconsidered a candidate’s age, race, and gender and found that predictions byassessment center methodology are equally valid for all candidates. (See Thornton &Byham, 1982, for a complete discussion of these issues.)An Assessment Center involves multiple evaluation techniques, including varioustypes of job-related simulations, and sometimes interviews and psychological tests.Common job simulations used in assessment centers are: • In-basket exercises • Group discussions
• Simulations of interviews with“ subordinates” or “clients” • Fact-finding exercises • Analysis/decision-making problems • Oral presentation exercises • Written communication exercisesSimulations are designed to bring out competencies (as discussed earlier)relevant Pharmaceutical Sales Reps, A traditional assessment center involvessix participants and lasts from one to three days. As the organizer, your role willbe critical to the success of the assessment center and you plan the event andensure that it runs smoothly on the day.As participants work through the simulations, they are observed by assessors(usually three line managers) who are trained to observe and evaluate behaviorand knowledge level. Assessors observe different participants in each simulationand take notes on special observation forms. After participants have completedtheir simulations, assessors spend one or more days sharing their observationsand agreeing on evaluations. If used, test and interview data are integrated intothe decision-making process.The assessors’ final assessment, must contain details of participants’ strengthsand development needs, and evaluate their overall potential for success inPharmaceutical Selling. By observing how a participant handles the problemsand challenges of the target job or job level (as simulated in the exercises),assessors get a valid picture of how that person would perform in future. This isespecially useful when assessing individuals who hold jobs that don’t offer theman opportunity to exhibit behavior related to the target position.Almost all organizations using assessment centers for selection also use theinformation obtained to diagnose training needs.RESPONSIBILITIES OF ASSESSMENT CENTER ORGANIZERAs the organizer of the assessment center, it is good to be prepared well inadvance. The Candidates must be briefed about the location of assessmentcenter in addition to what it will consist of, what they need to do beforehand andwhat to bring with them. All documents, handouts and other necessarypaperwork should have been designed, checked and printed, The Assessors havebeen trained in the Observe, Record, Classify and Evaluate (ORCE) process, arefamiliar with any exercises in which they are involved, clear about their roles andlegal responsibilities and know where they need to be and when. The venue hasbeen booked and rooms checked for suitability including arrangements for break
times and meals. Necessary equipment (if required) is checked to be fullyfunctional.The organizer must seriously consider to appoint a separate individual to act asan event administrator at the assessment center. The event administrator canmeet and greet candidates, circulate appropriate paperwork tocandidates/assessors and then collect and collate completed paperwork. Theorganizer can also be an assessor, and/or act as an event administrator.However, the organizer should be careful not to overburden him or herself withassessment duties, and so allow sufficient time to undertake the managementrole.An organizer must also need to plan: • When does the assessment center need to take place? Remember that availability of assessors, as well as venue, will be a factor. • When and how do assessors need to be booked and trained? Ideally their training should be carried out shortly before the first assessment center takes place • When and how will candidates be told that they are being invited to attend? • How long will candidates need to complete any online assessment exercises prior to the event? • When and how can candidates expect to receive news about the outcome and receive feedback on the results?Top tips for the organizer: • Make up a master plan which captures all the details (you could use project management software or a spreadsheet program) so that you are clear exactly what needs to happen and by when • Make sure that your plan covers the requirements of candidates, assessors, exercise suppliers, the venue and any consultants who might be involved • ‘Walk through’ your plan from the perspective of each of these groups to check that you have not missed anythingA good assessment center needs a good timetable, which takes account of: • How long each individual exercise needs to be introduced, administered
and run and with which candidates and which assessors. Be particularly careful with allowing time for any open-ended or non-timed exercises such as certain psychometric exercises – err upon more generous estimated completion times • How long each individual exercise needs for scoring • What other events or activities need to take place, such as any presentations to the candidates • Venue constraints such as the number and sizes of available rooms and equipment limitations • Break timesYou should also cover: • Clear instructions on the means by which and the date by when they should confirm their attendance • What they should bring – eg, examination proofs of achievement or copies of presentations • What they should do beforehand – eg, whether any online assessment exercises need to be completed or presentations prepared for • Dress code information • Whom they should contact in the event of any special requirements which may require adjustments to the exercises, and how to do thisA day or two before the assessment centre is due to take place, the organisershould: • Confirm everyone’s attendance at the event – this is particularly necessary with candidates who may be in high demand from other employers • Double-check that all materials are available and assessors are briefed • Confirm that the venue has full details of your booking and of your particular requirements • When nothing is left to chance, the assessment center is now ready to happen.FINAL TIPS • Try to keep it simple; factor in some slippage time for unexpected events such as a candidate or an assessor running late
• Avoid group exercises first thing in the morning – allow the candidates a little time to relax in each other’s company. The best time for a group exercise is late morning or just before or after lunch – the latter keeps up candidates’ energy levels in the early afternoon! • At the start of the day, include an overview of the day’s schedule and (if appropriate) a company presentation. As well as sharing useful information, this helps candidates relax and allows them to get used to the venue and each other • Make sure that the exercises which take longest to score, eg in- tray/analysis exercises, are given early on, to make full use of available assessor scoring time • Psychometric exercises generally involve a single assessor to administer, and are good to use when candidates might otherwise be unoccupied • Some ‘break’ periods during the timetable are acceptable but avoid prolonged periods of inactivity for candidatesOnce you have been through the entire process of decision making, prepareappointment letters for the selected candidates and prepare for their orientation,training and coaching.