The Managers’ Corner:
Self-assessment is often used in appraisal of staff as a prelude to developing performance objectives for the employee for the next appraisal cycle. In that guise, self-assessment is a very useful exercise. Self-assessment, however, can also be used as a very productive vehicle for evaluation of candidates, especially if it is incorporated into the interview process. Self-assessment is not a “throw-away” in which all people completing the exercise give themselves “a ‘straight-A’ report.” The experience of this writer is that most people find the exercise very difficult, bend over backwards to avoid being too congratulatory or too self-effacing, are in the end, dead honest.
Let’s look at self-assessment itself and then how it fits into an interview. As is the case for all these information-gathering instruments, the self-assessment should be based upon the job description and the job advertisement for purposes of alignment. Its form should be a stem, a series of statements that require a rating and an opportunity for a candidate to add a sentence or two by way of justification.
Please give yourself a rating on a scale of 4-1 on how you rate yourself as a staff member on each of the following characteristics. Feel free to add a very brief statement to each rating. The scale is: 4-Very High; 3-High; 2-Moderate, 1-Needs Improvement or C/A – Cannot Assess. ex. My capacity to deal sensitively with a multi-racial clientele. 4 3 2 1
Comment/Justification of My Rating:
Please note the use of an even-numbered scale which, unlike a 3-, 5- or 7-point scale, avoids the tendency to migrate to the middle of a scale.
The Function: This is the “neat” part of a self-assessment. As part of the interview, assessors can use the ratings and the comments to delve into the candidates’ knowledge, skills, professional values, and capacities to advance the mission of the organization (the four tenets of a Bendel job description) by probing. Here’s an example:
“I see you rated yourself as ‘Very High’ in the use of technology. Can you tell us a little about that rating? What software, for instance, are you comfortable with that you see as an asset in this position?”
In this way assessors can explore with the candidates their capacities – but starting with their own perceptions of themselves. It’s an effective way of starting an interview based on what the candidate knows. It will likely result in a more relaxed set of responses to the latter part of the interview using the more standardized questions.
The use of a self-assessment does something perhaps a little more intangible. It sends a message to candidates that you value their opinion and that you are prepared to rely on them as honest professionals. Not a bad message to send if you want to present your organization as one that is invitational, respectful, and open to all points of view.