Candidate Assessment: What Are You Measuring And Why?

Interview frameworks, psychometric testing and selection methodologies are increasingly being branded as ‘behavioural’ assessments despite their fundamental objectives being to measure personality or competence. But why?

As an executive search firm we seek to ensure organisations understand what they need to assess to fill their leadership vacancies effectively. Let us explain what to assess, how to measure it and why true behavioural assessment can improve your chance of a better hire.


The CIPD describes a competency as, “the beahviour that lies behind competent performance, such as critical thinking or analytical skills, and describes what people bring to the job.”

Put more simply, competencies are actions learnt through repetition. When people talk of reaching competency, they mean that an individual has developed a particular skill which has been honed via successfully and regularly applying certain behaviours over time.

For example, you could evidence a high level of measurable competence in public speaking, managing teams across borders, managing operational change or tax accounting because you have a track record of practice and success with these things.

To understand how likely a candidate is to be successful in a role an organisation may ask them competency based questions, such as those beginning “provide us with an example of a time when you…”. They may then evaluate the responses based on criteria set by the organisation in advance of the interview process to identify the most competent person to fill the vacant role.


Personality, as defined by American Psychology Association, refers to “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving”.

Put another way personality is one’s way of thinking and subsequently, one’s behaviour based on mindset. Generally, there are two broad areas to assess here:

  1. The candidates characteristics, for example sociability, humour or irritability
  2. How the person consequently comes together as a wholeThere are currently over 2,500 personality tests available, the most famous being the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI),

based on Jungian psychology which seeks to ‘type’ people into 16 personality types. However, although widely used, the validity of test has been challenged by both academics and practitioners, and is not completely reliable.


When assessing behavior you are determining someone’s urge to act in a specific way depending on their situation.

By assessing behavioural criteria, you can gain a deeper insight into aspects of a person and what they revert to under stress, such as:

  • How they prefer to influence situations and people
  • How they work in a team
  • What their decision making and communication skills are
  • What their tolerance for risk is like

There are several ways to assess behavior but using a well-validated profiling instrument is most advisable if you would like to measures a candidate’s behaviour against the desires and criteria of the role available.

Some profiling tools work by mapping the preferences of the brain, which uses less energy to do tasks it is more well-suited to.

By looking at factors such as metabolism, oxygenated blood flow, and calorie usage they are able to assess the resistance the brain creates to tasks it is less suited to, therefore identifying the optimum environment and stimuli of the candidate. By understanding how the candidate performs when the brain is driven without conscious awareness, key areas and criteria of the role can be measured against the abilities of the candidate.

The result is consistent, objective and ensures that both talent and experience are considered in the hiring process as data from the behvioural assessment should feed into a structured interview framework which will further assess the two other areas; competency and personality.

Why the additional behavioural focus?

There are 2 main reasons that there should be an enhanced emphasis on behavioral assessments:

  1. By digging deeper into behavior an organisation can understand the true quality of a candidate.
  2. Many studies support the claim that the use of stand-alone behavioural assessments in addition combined with conventional competency-based methods ensure that the selected candidate is better suited for the role.How behavioural assessment increases your chance of a better hire

As discussed, used in conjunction with interviews, behavioural assessments reveal characteristics that determine whether a candidate is suitable to the job and to the client. Including behavioural assessment in your selection process counters any potentially misleading nature of interview.

In fact, it is widely known that candidates may prefer to keep some things hidden in interview but the characteristics and behavioural traits become revealed through our behavioural assessments result in the placement of the optimum candidate for the role.

In summary, conventional competency-based frameworks focus on a candidate’s eligbility for hire, but adding behavioural assessment provides deeper data on their suitability.

Successful Executive Searching

Miramar Executive Search have a track record in identify and acquiring talent for global organisations leading in their own fields.

We understand how to identify the right candidates for our client’s vacancies so talk to us about what we can do to place the talent you need in your organisation. We have executive search consultants in London, America and Asia meaning you can reach round the world to find the best leaders for your organisation.


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