By the
Mind Tools
Editorial Team

Success Profiling

Benchmarking Potential Recruits Against Your Top People

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You're in the process of recruiting a new accounts clerk.

Everyone you're interviewing must take a task-related test to see if they've got the knowledge, skills and abilities required for the position. But none of your applicants are managing to complete the test you've set and even the best of them are only scoring around 60 percent, largely because they're leaving so many questions unanswered.

So what's the problem here? Are the tests too hard? Is the time limit unrealistic? Or are none of the candidates actually up to the job?

You need to know the answer, because otherwise you could be turning down some good new people. But how do you go about identifying what your ideal "pass mark" should be? And how do you know if these tests are really helping you find people who are going to excel in the positions you're trying to fill?

"Success Profiling" is a simple tool that helps you answer these questions. In this article we'll explain what it is, and how you can use it to pick out the best new recruits.

Success Profiling

Many organizations ask job applicants to complete some kind of aptitude or skills test. These can range from simple logic tests to complex tasks designed to measure creativity, communication skills, and decision-making abilities.

With Success Profiling, you simply compare the scores of your candidates with those of existing, high-performing team members. This gives you a way of measuring the capabilities of potential new recruits, compared with those of your best people, and it gives you a way of checking that the tests you're setting are valid and useful. Using this benchmarking, you can make a much more informed decision about which person would be the best fit for the position you need to fill.

All you have to do is get a number of high-performing team members to take your recruitment test. These will be people who've already proven themselves to be adept and reliable, and their test results will give you a clear picture of the range of scores you can expect to get with a new recruit of similar caliber.

Tip 1:

It's important to have the right mix of people take the test for you, rather than just those who happen to be in the office on a particular day. Ideally, you should pick team members who successfully perform a similar role to the one the new recruit will have, since they'll have similar skills and strengths to those you need.

Tip 2:

Bear in mind that outside candidates might not do quite as well as your star performers, because they're more nervous, or because they may be less used to doing the type of task you've set. This is particularly true when your test measures current knowledge, skill or ability levels, rather than aptitude for a certain type of work.

Don't forget that if you recruit someone who's already capable of doing the job extremely well, they may get bored, and want to move on. That's not good for you in the longer term!


There are many recruitment and skills tests that work well with success profiling. Here are a few examples you may want to consider:...

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