Norris and McKee (HealthCare Sales Managers) Discuss Defining Performance Expectations

Drop in on a conversation between 2 seasoned sales managers in the medical/healthcare arena. They discuss why you have to set (define) expectations with a new sales hire. And then how to determine what to expect, how to communicate it and then how to revisit it for maximized performance and job satisfaction (for your top reps). Kraig McKee (recruiter on my team & hubby) has 20 years of experience managing top performing teams for Ventana Medical Systems (histology market), TransGenomics (dna snip assays), and Bayer (now is Siemens, used to be Chiron/Ciba Corning – laboratory analyzers/assays). Now he helps build high performing teams for many organizations. Chris Norris has over 15 years training and managing teams for Chiron/Ciba Corning, Bayer (diabetes), and GE (lifesciences/healthcare solutions). It is always an interesting and illuminating time to listen in on managers as they candidly discuss these key performance tools.

Listen Here:

If you find this audio valuable, will you tell me in the comments? (and forward it to others who might need to hear these managers’ special perspective).

Should I hire a medical technologist to sell for us? (products = laboratory supplies)?

Thinking of transitioning one of your great technical people in to a selling role?  The odds for success are 10-15%.  Out of 10 technical people that make the transition, 1 or 2 will succeed. 

The good news is that if they survive, they often will be top producers in the organization.


Here are a few things they normally struggle with:


The Hypocrisy of Sales

In the technical world that they grew up in, there are absolutes.  Their daily work often revolved around eliminating variables in experiments to guarantee the same outcome each day.  All of the sudden, they are faced with more uncertainty and gray area than absolutes.

The company says,

“We sell solutions not products”.
TRUE, but understand you are expected to sell your product, regardless.
If it provides a solution, great. If not, you need to make your product provide a perceived solution.

 “We are customer driven”
TRUE, as long as where the customers drive you results in them needing/buying your product.

“Our customers are our partners”
TRUE, as long as the partnership involves them buying your stuff.

 The point being, the shift from an advisor/peer role to a sales role is very different on many different levels.  In the technical role, many absolutes.   In a sales role, many variables.  Can you see how that might cause some of your highest caliber technical people to struggle if they are trying to make the transition?


The Grind

I do believe that, “If you do the right things, the right things happen”.  Does that mean that people that are doing the right things never fail?  No, it means that you have no chance at continued success if you don’t do the right things.  If you are doing the right things, the right thing will happen; it just might not happen in the time frame you need.  Best rep, worst territory-the outcome is always the same.  The only variable is time.

The grind is acknowledgement that success in a territory is a long term project with many ups and downs.  How they handle the adversity and constant change will determine their level of success.


·     We shipped the instrument, but it got damaged in shipment.

·     We shipped 3 instruments and all were out of box failures.

·     We shipped 3 instruments and all appear to work within spec but none of them correlate to each other.

·     We promised to install the instrument Monday but had to postpone for a week so we could ship a more important accounts’ instrument first.

·     My customer just got bought and wants to return their instrument.


These types of issues arise daily in the sales rep role and if the person in that role doesn’t understand that success in a territory is normally a long, hard process

with infinite variables, requiring a constant focus, they will probably struggle in the sales role.

This article was written by: Kraig McKee

Should they stay or should they go? (The sales manager’s dilemma)

Previously in my career, I was a Regional Sales Manager with Ciba-Corning Diagnostics. I originally was hired by Gilford Systems, a division of Ciba-Corning (a joint venture between Ciba Geigy and Corning Medical). I was an Instrument Specialist selling a clinical chemistry analyzer (The Express 550) in small-to-medium hospitals and labs. Gilford was combined with Ciba-Corning Immunoassay business (Magic RIA and Chemiluminescent assays). We then combined/consolidated with the Blood Gas division of Ciba-Corning. After the consolidations (each one involved a change in management), the Ciba-Corning product line included:

General chemistry analyzers

An automated Immunoassay analyzer (ACS 180)

General chemistry controls and reagents

RIA and Chemiluminescent assays

Blood Gas and Electrolyte analyzers

Shortly after all of the consolidations were complete, we were sold to Chiron and added bDNA to the product line. Chiron kept the business for a few years; I think tripled their money and sold it to Bayer. I was a Zone Director with Chiron and Bayer by then, and left shortly after the Bayer purchase.

An unfortunate part of team building involves decoupling (isn’t that a nice way to say it?) those who don’t share the correct values or achieve the required performance milestones. The “decoupling” can be particularly stressful when the individual in question shares the right values, says the right things and is receptive to your coaching—which means that you probably like him and would have liked to see him succeed.

A case in point:

I was a newly-promoted regional manager and was assigned the lowest-ranked region in the organization. Part of the reason the region was performing poorly was due to bad personnel choices. The organization had gone through yet another management consolidation and we absorbed another division (which is relevant because the new National Sales Manager (NSM) came from the other side of that business and now he was in charge of products and people that were new to him).

In my new region there was a Technical Specialist that everyone loved. He was intelligent, communicated well and wanted to move in to sales. Sounds good so far, right? Well as likeable as that Technical Specialist was and as much as his team members and customers liked him, he was failing in his job and was on a Performance Improvement Plan as a Technical Specialist. A Performance Improvement Plan meant he had to achieve outlined milestones within 90 days to remain employed. Obviously, not a good place to be as an employee and definitely not the place you want to be if you are trying to get promoted.

The new NSM met this person and was persuaded (because of the Technical Specialist’s excellent communication skills and general likeability) to move that Technical Specialist in to a selling role in that same region. I can still remember the exact words I used with the NSM when he told me he had made that decision (which in my mind really wasn’t his to make if he was holding me accountable for the region’s performance at the end of the year): “Bill, are we doing this because it is the right thing to do or are we doing it because it is the easiest?” His response: “No, no, no. It is the right thing to do. He’ll do very well.” The fact that he was failing in his current role apparently wasn’t relevant to Bill.

Even though the Technical Specialist was a wonderful person and a pleasure to work with, he never should have been transferred to a sales role, and of course, he failed quickly. We tried retraining, having him work with successful reps and attend sales training seminars. No improvement.

As the year passed, this rep passed the point of no return (remember The Rule of 78) and it was clear he wouldn’t be able to hit his goals. Keep in mind that I never had anything but pleasant conversations with this individual and he was always going to “kill it next quarter” and everyone wanted it to be true, but, sadly, it never was. Once again, he found himself on a Performance Improvement Plan. But ironically this time, Bill (the same NSM who put the Technical Specialist into the sales position in the first place) was pressuring me to resolve the issue and had conveniently forgotten about his role in the problem.

Which brings us back to the original question: Should he stay or should he go?

It seems simple, but a complicating factor was that the failing sales rep had a large order that was pending.

As a manager, do you decouple now or wait until after the order? The order could save the individual.

The answer is: the two issues are unrelated.

Say what?

If someone isn’t performing to the standards prescribed by the organization, it is your responsibility as a manager to either improve performance through coaching and counseling or to replace them with someone who can achieve the organization’s objectives. A pending order shouldn’t really influence your decision because “even a blind pig finds an acorn occasionally.” (Say what again? That means that even if you are incompetent or poorly skilled, you may experience an occasional success. Some refer to them as “bluebirds”.)

So just because this person has an order in play doesn’t change the fact that their skill set isn’t a good match for the job that they’re in.

Enough of the theoretical—it’s a big order and you need it for the region. What do you do?

If you’ve been a good manager, you’ve already been involved in the strategy and tactics at the account. You’ve met the players at the account and understand their needs, so you should have a good feel for where in the sales process the account is and whether or not it is a Best Few.

My experience tells me that in most cases, the order that “can save me” isn’t really an order at all. Instead, they are a very strong prospect and if their needs are met and their objections overcome they probably will move from the “In the Funnel” position to the “Best Few” position. So–no, the order isn’t going to happen in the next 60 days. (I know there are all sorts of exceptions and anytime you generalize you open yourself up to being wrong, but this scenario has repeated itself many times in my career.)

If this order is the exception and it really is going to happen, I would do everything I could to help the rep close the business. If after pulling out all of the stops, it still wasn’t going to close before the completion of the PIP, I would move forward with the decoupling. After the employee had been decoupled, I would call the Manager or Director (at the customer account) and explain that the person had left the organization and I hated to see them go.

In most cases, the manager acknowledged and went on with business. Occasionally they might offer some feedback like, “That doesn’t surprise me, he seemed to be struggling” or “Gosh I hate to hear that, he was such a nice guy.”

What I have never had happen is that same manager or director cancel an order because of a sales rep personnel change. After all, they manage people and understand that things don’t always work out the way you would like with some of your employees.

I believe that if you lose the order, you never really had any order. If the rep had done a good job of positioning your product or service and building the value proposition, the customer wouldn’t be willing to miss out on those benefits for their organization.

Maybe my experiences are unique, but at the end of the day I believe most customers’ and managers’ top priority and allegiance is to their organization and what is best for it.

It is like they said in the movie, “It’s not called Show Friends, it’s Show BUSINESS.”

What do you think? Put it in the comments or e-mail me at

Kraig McKee

Snr. Recruiter

The White Stuff

20 years experience

Seasoned, mature rep ready for a new challenge.

Do these resume summary lines sound familiar?


You can’t turn on the television or radio without hearing how many people are unemployed or how difficult the job market is today. What you don’t hear too often is that some of the most vocal unsuccessful job seekers shouldn’t be very surprised that they aren’t being successful.

What? How could I possibly say that?

Don’t I have any empathy?

Let’s not even talk about the many interview horror stories you hear (flip flops at interviews, tardiness, texting while interviewing, general unpreparedness, etc.). Even if a job seeker manages to avoid major interview mistakes like that, the job search can still be a minefield. I say that based on actual empirical data–facts. I know facts aren’t too popular these days when debating points of view…it’s easier to talk about the emotional side of the equation and ignore the facts, or “givens.”

What are the givens in this equation?

  • The job market is very competitive.
  • The employers have more candidates to look at, so the process takes longer as they look for their ideal candidate.
  • Experience isn’t always seen as a plus–with experience comes higher salaries and expectations. And, there can be the perception among employers that you can’t teach “experienced dogs new tricks.”
  • Thousands of Pharma jobs have evaporated.  Many are looking to move into other areas of medical sales.
  • You have hundreds (maybe thousands) of highly educated financial people with no clinical/research industry experience who are pursuing new careers because of the meltdown in their world.

 Does that mean your career is over if you have more than 10 years experience?

If you haven’t dealt with “The White Stuff”, maybe so. If you deal with it, you will be in a better position than your peers.

So you say, “What’s the White Stuff?”

The white stuff is the white light and the white elephant.

First the white light:

As a manager, I was often in the position of deciding who would stay and who would go (or be “decoupled” as I heard for the first time last week) as we right-sized, refocused or adjusted to new management. I took the responsibility very seriously because I knew the actions I was taking as part of the management team would affect people’s lives. The way I was able to justify what I was doing was to tell myself that everyone has to be responsible for their actions and most likely; this person’s poor performance made them expendable. That theory worked great for me until I was “decoupled” (fired) with no notice, no performance plan, no clue. I can’t say I wasn’t cognizant of my circumstances. I knew about the Japanese model– executives down-sizing, taking less to make room for the “up and comers” that represent the future of the organization. So, I tried not to get performance review increases, took on more responsibility, anything that I thought would help me provide more value to organization.

The point being, I knew about the White Light.

A neighbor of mine recently lost his job after working for his firm for more than 10 years. As I was trying to console him he made a statement that made the “White Light” topic strike home. He said, “I really shouldn’t be surprised, they have been trying to get rid of me for a few years”.

 (It took every bit of self control I could muster to not scream, “Are you kidding me?? You knew your job was at risk and you haven’t even looked for another?”)

This guy obviously hadn’t really seen the White Light. He thought he knew all about it, but, not so much. If he had seen the White Light while he was employed, it might have made him think about things differently, as in:

  • I am 56 years experienced.
  • I am in an executive position and lived ex-US for years.
  • My total comp is over $200,000.
  • I only have a 2 year degree.
  • I am in the cyclical construction industry.
  • If I lose this job, I might have a hard time replacing it. If I don’t replace my current job, my lifestyle will be really negatively affected.
  • I should always be looking to add more value to the organization, because I can be replaced cheaper with someone who can still contribute 10 or 20 years to the organization. Be cognizant of the Japanese model.

The White Light is job mortality.

If you have seen the White Light, you know that no one is safe. Any job can be eliminated at any time. Not just “the little people” get affected. You serve at the whim of your master. Do what you can to make your master like and need you. Any new challenge, bad assignment or bummer deal at your current job will be less of a bummer than being unemployed. Not even in the same league….trust me.

So what about the White Elephant?

The white elephant is that thing in the room or on the phone, which is there, present. You can try to pretend it isn’t, but it is. The White Elephant could be:  

  • A 2-year gap in your employment.
  • Much more experience than the job requires.
  • Unrelated experience.
  • Getting fired.
  • Job instability as a result of mergers, buyouts, etc.
  • A poor reference.
  • Having a DUI on your driving record.
  • Missing last year’s sales goal.

The list goes on an on….

Have an answer. Address the “White Stuff” up front or you will not make it to the next step.

More issues and specific strategies in my next rambling post.

Do you have any thoughts or questions?  Put them in the comments or e-mail me at

Kraig McKee

Senior Recruiter



“I just got laid off by a large Pharma company and would like to interview for the analytical capital equipment sales position you have advertised”.

It seems that every week someone in our office has a lengthy discussion with a high-performing Pharma rep, and the end of the discussion usually goes like this: “You have done extremely well in your career and have distinguished yourself among your peers. Unfortunately, our client doesn’t consider Pharma experience applicable to their job.”

The response is usually something like: “How can that be? I was 14th out of 125 reps for 2 years.”

While we’ve all had to deal with a changing business environment, I bet it’s fair to say that few industries/professions have been rocked as much as the pharmaceutical industry. For years, Pharma reps have been relatively well-paid and lived a corporate existence filled with more perks than most. Much of their time was spent delivering food in hopes of getting a few minutes with the Doctor to inform him/her about their product. A book titled “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell points to Direct to Consumer (DTC) advertising as the “Tipping Point”, or the point of inflection at which that world changed.


Quick…. What drug does Sally Fields promote and what is it for?


I bet at least half you said Boniva for Osteoporosis. Do you get the point?


The point is that Pharma companies are using the various forms of media (internet, television and radio) to educate you about their offerings and encourage you to “ask your doctor if XXXX is right for you”. Sounds kind of like the educational role that Pharma reps have always played. I know of one large (maybe the largest) Pharma company that wouldn’t allow their reps to ask doctors if they were prescribing their product. They felt it was too much pressure to put on the doctors.


So how is all of this relevant to why most Pharma reps won’t be considered for Capital Sales positions?


It’s relevant because companies selling analytical capital equipment in the hospital and reference lab market are looking for people who are experienced in selling a complex technical product(s) in a complex sales environment. By placing their equipment in that laboratory, they have been successful in overcoming technical, user, financial, location, and workflow issues, just to name a few. They have also probably gotten a commitment from that organization to use their product for 3-5 years and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars running and supporting that technology. (You might be able to argue that the selling process to get drugs on hospital formularies is a complex sales cycle; but it doesn’t require the rep to go “eyeball to eyeball” with the end decision maker and ask for the order. “Press hard, the third copy is yours” comes to mind.) That rep is also responsible for ensuring that the customer is happy and doesn’t send the instrument back and cancel the contract. So, there is skill needed to execute a strategic sales plan and skill needed to execute a customer satisfaction plan, i.e. keeping them happy and using your product.


The point of this article isn’t to denigrate or minimize the skills of a good Pharma rep. I totally understand their point of view and that of our clients. That doesn’t mean that PHC Consulting will never present an exceptional Pharma rep… it means that unless that rep understands the world they’re in and understands the perception that clients often have about the Pharma world, they won’t be successful.

You might be surprised how many Pharma reps bring serious attitude to the career discussion. That attitude might be better directed by the saying “That was then, this is now.”

Your thoughts?  (Put them in the comments or e-mail me at

Kraig McKee

Senior Recruiter


Sales Managers, Sales Reps: Do you know the rule of 78?

April 7, 2009 · Posted in Business Plans for Interviews, Clinical Diagnostics, For Sales Managers, Imaging Sales, Kraig's Experiences, Laboratory Sales, Medical Sales, Pathology Sales Jobs · Comments Off on Sales Managers, Sales Reps: Do you know the rule of 78? 

The Rule of 78-As it applies to the reagent/consumable business sales goal attainment.

Before beginning this article, I Googled “The Rule of 78” and reviewed a few of the articles. All of the entries I read focused on using the rule as a means of calculating how much of your monthly payment goes towards interest and principal on a loan.

The Rule of 78 is used in the diagnostic industry as a tool to calculate how much new business you need to close to hit your annual sales goal. It allows you to recalculate that increment/growth as the year unfolds.

You say, “Why do I need to recalculate, I have a sales budget that breaks down my goal by the month”. I say “That’s great, tell me what new business you have to close for the remaining 9 months of the year if you missed your goal and didn’t sell anything in the first quarter,

You say “Huh”.

The Rule of 78 (in a budgeting application) allows you to calculate how much new business you need to close to hit your growth budget based on where you are at that time(kind of sounds like the explanation from Pinocchio to the Prince in Shrek 3).

Before we work through an example, consider these facts:

1) The Rule of 78 (Ro78) assumes that you maintain your base business.

2) The “increment” is the amount of new business you need to sell to add to your base business to hit your sales goal.

Base business + New Business (growth or increment) = Your sales goal for the year.

3) The Ro78 allows you to calculate in “real time”.

Everyone knows what their annual goal is, but how do you calculate how much you need to close each month if you missed your goal for the first 3 months of the year?

How much will you have to close to make up for an account that you lost in March?

The Rule of 78 to the rescue.

Let’s look at some examples now.

Your sales goal for the year is $122,000.

Your territory finished at $100,000 last year.

$22,000 is your growth or increment.

The company wants you do grow your territory $22,000 larger than it was last year.

$100,000 + $22,000 = $122,000
Base Growth/increment Annual Sales Goal

$100,000-your total 08 production.

It seems like you need to sell $10,166.67 (base +increment/growth) per month, starting in January (122,000/12=$10,166.67)

Simple enough, huh.

Keep that thought for a moment…

This is where they get The Rule of 78.

January 12

February 11

March 10

April 9

May 8

June 7

July 6

August 5

September 4

October 3

November 2

December 1
78 selling opportunities..

The numbers to the right represent the number of selling opportunities in a year. You start in January with 12; February has 11, March 10 etc.

Now to the fun part.

It is the end of March and you have only sold $2,000 and you should have sold $30,499.98. ($122,000/12=$10,166.67 per month. $10,166.67x 3 = $30,499.98)

Tell me how much new business you need to close every month for the rest of the year to achieve your sales goal?

First, I need to calculate how many selling opportunities I have left in the year.

78 Total Selling Opportunities in a full year

-33 (Selling opportunities lost-Jan-12, Feb-11, March-10=33)
45 Remaining selling opportunities

Your annual growth budget divided by the remaining selling opportunities equals the new increment or growth that you need to sell each month for the remainder of the year.

$22,000(annual sales growth goal)-$2,000(your actual sales for that period) / 45 = $444.44

Since you sold only $2,000 in January, February and March, your increment/growth went from $282.05 per month (total growth goal for the year / 78) to $444.44. That means that you can still hit your annual sales goal if you maintain your base business and add $444.44 of new business each month for the remainder of the year.

Try one yourself:

Use the same annual sales growth goal of $22,000.

You sold $8,000 worth of new business by June.

How much new business (while maintaining your base) do you need each month to hit your annual sales growth goal of $22,000?

1) Calculate the selling opportunities left in the year after June.

78-57(12-11-10-9-8-7) =21

2) Subtract the new business that you have done through June from your annual sales growth goal ($22,000-$8,000=$14,000) to derive the amount of new business you need to add each month for the last six months of the year ($14,000).

3) Divide $14,000 by the remaining selling opportunities (21) to get your new growth/increment-$666.66.

What does the $666.66 represent in this example?

That represents the amount of new business you need to add each month, beginning in July to hit your annual sales goal of $122,000 while maintaining your base business.

It assumes that you sold $8,000 through June, when you needed to sell $11,000 to be on track to hit your annual growth budget of $22,000.

So, if you maintain your base business and add $666.66 of new business per month beginning in July, you will hit your annual sales goal. Did you notice that your increment more than doubled because you missed you goal for the first six months of the year?

This tool is very valuable for reps formulating tactics to help them achieve their goals. It is also very helpful for managers to help reps realize that there is a point of no return, i.e., a point in the year that they cannot “catch up”, even if they get a big order. The reason being, there aren’t enough selling opportunities in the year. This example is a little misleading, because technically, the rep could close a big order in December and hit his growth goal. I kept the numbers small to make the math easier. Realistic growth goals in today’s diagnostic market are somewhere between 8-30% and make the “Point of No Return” in June or July.

This model only applies to reoccurring consumables and doesn’t apply to capital sales.

Here is a visual representation of The Rule of 78 based on needing to generate $22,000 growth for the year.

Click here to view the Rule of 78 Chart

Your thoughts? Questions?
Put them in the comments or email me at:
Kraig McKee
Snr Recruiter

ROFLYAO- rolling on the floor, laughing your ….well you get it?

Dear recruiter,
i am looking for a job and would like for you to help me. I have done very well at my previous jobs and think i could b a good fit. You prolly deal with people like me all the time and know what I need to do to get a job.
Call me when you get this email.

I know times are tough and many are in the job search process, but those of you that believe in “Survival of the Fittest” will find this story encouraging. The email above is an actual email we received this week (we get at least a couple of these each week). Can you believe they come from college educated individuals?

While I am not an English and grammar expert, I at least try. Based on a huge sample group, it seems like I may be in the minority. What happened to following the rules? You know the ones…. capitalize the beginning of sentences, use commas, don’t overuse abbreviations in business communications etc., etc., etc.?

The shift to digital communications shouldn’t signal the end of writing in real English. Not old England English (tis not the time) but in English (It is not the time). I understand that texting requires abbreviations and I understand that emoticons (?) can sometimes help add tone or context to a brief message. I also understand that just because I like and enjoy something, doesn’t mean that everyone else will like it. Do job seekers think that all of the hiring managers will be “into” texting, abbreviations and the new lingo? Will they even know what a tweet is? They say Warren Buffet didn’t have a computer until Bill gates bought him one and then he only used it for Chess.

I always think of an old saying that one of my managers told me early in my career, “I expect you to use the same skill set internally as you do externally”. Translation… If you are a sales person that was hired to utilize your expert communication skills to sell a product, use that same skill internally among your peers to advance your ideas and goals.

What does that have to do with writing and grammar in written communications?
How skilled at your craft do you think recruiters think you are when you don’t distinguish between fun time texting and business communication? Answer: not very.

A manager interviews 2 candidates that he rates as equal. One sends an appropriate follow up email.
One sends this:
Hi Bob,
Thanks for meeting.
i’m really interested in the job.
i have a few ?4U, but I’ll save them for next time we MIRL.

Who do think left a better impression?
TTTT (these things take time) – not sure if this fits here, but I just wanted to show my range.

Thoughts?  Comments?  What are your experiences?

Put them in the comments or e-mail me at:

Kraig McKee

Senior Recruiter

Assessment Tools for Hiring – DISC, Caliper, etc …for Medical Sales Teams

If you have been considered for a position with a new company in the last five years, you may have been asked to take a “Personality Assessment”. In my career, I have taken at least 5 of these assessments while employed with organizations as part of personal development. Caliper, Disc, Gallup, HBDI and FiroB are a few of the more popular. I have also administered the various profiles (it depends which is “in” with the organization at that time) to over 50 people who reported to me.

My conclusions:

Regardless of the type of profile, they all yield useful, consistent information.
In my particular case and that of my teams taking the assessment, I believe the results to be 90% accurate. The 10% I don’t agree with on my assessment is really a matter of definition rather than being totally off base. People who vociferously disagree with their results are almost always a personnel issue waiting to happen.

They have a disconnected self image.

Say what?

They think they have all the skills needed for their job and they are great.

The truth is that is they don’t have the needed skills and probably won’t change.

Translation: They think they are great and they aren’t.

Has the result of an assessment changed a hiring decision?

All assessments are used as a tool in the hiring process.

Just like it is rare that a candidate would be eliminated from a job because of the results, it would be unlikely that you would get the job because of your assessment profile. But, it does happen occasionally and usually turns out to be a positive if handled correctly.

How can it be a positive to the candidate?

There are 2 scenarios that assessments are normally used:

As a hiring tool in the hiring process.

As a developmental tool for your current employer.

As a manager, sometimes you have a really good employee who wants to move to a different role. Maybe they are in a technical staff position and they would like to transition to a line sales position. You like the employee’s values and work ethic and you want to help them advance in their career, but you don’t want to set them up for failure by putting them in a job that doesn’t match their skill set.

They take the test and it shows they don’t like to communicate with people and are introverted.

Now back to the handled correctly part…

A good manager will sit down with the team member and have a conversation about the assessment and try and understand how the team member perceives and interprets the results.

The conversation should be warm and focused on the individual. As you go through the assessment with them and ask their feedback, you will start to get a picture of how that team member sees his or her self. When you start reviewing some of the needed skill sets for the new job and how their results compare to that, often the team member will see that where they want to go doesn’t utilize their strengths and it would be a really difficult transition.

What happens next?

Are they doomed to stay in that role forever?


The manager and the team member work together to assemble a plan that will develop or supplement the areas they would need to be successful. If they are poor public speakers, maybe Toastmasters. If the have no clue what a day in the life of a sales rep is, what about scheduled ride a long days in the field?

If the assessment and the review is done right, both parties leave with a better understanding of the team member and where they want to go in the organization and what skills they will need to be successful in a new role.

As a hiring tool in the hiring process:

You normally take an assessment at the very beginning of the interview process or towards the end.

An assessment that is used in the beginning is usually used to screen out people that wouldn’t fit in the job. When I say fit, maybe it is a very technical scientific job and the candidate didn’t have a science degree. The employer may be using an assessment that focuses on abstract reasoning because that is seen as a good measure of intelligence and they are trying to gauge if the candidate will be able to grasp their new technology quickly. If it is an accounting job, maybe the employer is focused more on the candidate’s ability to work by themselves with no direction.

So yes, in those type of skill mismatches, an assessment can keep you from getting a job. In most cases, if you are taking the assessment as a final step to receiving an offer, unless your assessment comes back with anti social behavior patterns, the manager will probably move forward. A good manager believes “Where there is smoke, there is fire” and if the assessment comes back with more than 2 points of contention, they may think they are better off passing on you and moving on to the next candidate.

Your thoughts?  Comments?  Put them in the comment section or e-mail me at:

Kraig McKee

Snr Recruiter

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