By Craig Dunaway

Hiring is complicated, and the wrong hire can do more damage than most think. Executives are always looking for ways to improve the process. Using personality tests – or more specifically online behavioral assessments – in conjunction with traditional hiring techniques can significantly increase your chances of hiring top-tier employees.

Each company has its own unique culture, and each job within that company requires certain behaviors and competencies. We do not necessarily look to first fill a position, but we look at the individual’s behavioral profile and attempt to assess their strengths. Knowing a candidate’s behavioral strengths helps evaluate if he or she will be a good fit for both for your company and the open position before you make the hiring decision. It can also help you determine which employees have the potential for promotion and help identify areas for all employees to improve in order to move up the corporate ladder.

Here are three tips for incorporating behavioral assessments into your hiring process.

Identify key behaviors for your company and each position.

Before you can create a behavioral assessment for potential new hires to take, you have to pinpoint what you’re looking for in an employee. Online behavioral assessments work in a variety of industries, but they work best when you can match up performance ratings of at least 75 to 100 employees in a given job function. We worked with PeopleBest to determine key attributes and behaviors for both our company as a whole and for our franchisees’ managing owners and general managers.

To do this, we had all existing employees in each job function take the test, which measures likely behaviors and suggests areas of competence. Then, PeopleBest statistically validated the assessment results to the performance data we provided them. Drawing from the 29 behavioral traits measured by the PeopleBest assessment, they determined those behavioral traits and combinations that were predictive of success in the position.

While it is critical to look at your best employees, it is also helpful to look at those whose performance may be lacking. Not only do you want to hire the best, you also want to avoid making regrettable hiring decisions. It’s also important to test for both company fit and position fit. Some behaviors may be needed company-wide for the candidate to be a good culture fit, while others may only be needed for certain positions. For example, a managing owner needs to be able to make decisions quickly and evaluate risk, while it is more important for a store manager to follow the rules and be detail oriented.

Predictive behavioral traits can often be combined into more broad measures that suggest proficiency in specific on-the-job competency areas. The customized assessment report we use offers insight into how well a candidate holds people accountable, a candidate’s ability to be coached, a candidate’s communication style and a candidate’s problem solving ability.

Create a customized, easy-to-use test.

Behavioral assessments for hiring need to be business oriented and user friendly. Look for an assessment that uses business-oriented language instead of psychological terms. You also want an assessment that is easy to access, quick to take (no more than 45 minutes) and immediately scored.

A good behavioral assessment will rate a candidate on a scale for each measured behavioral trait and competency. That allows companies to set ranges and minimums for each position within the company. For those positions where a statistical validation has been completed, the report also delivers an overall job fit score between one and 99, which gives us an easy-to-use, bottom-line indicator of the odds of success.

A well-designed assessment tool takes care to minimize the possibility that a candidate can “fake their way” through the test by offering answers and selecting items they perceive are desired for the position. The assessment we use incorporates both self-rated individual item responses and forced choice selection between different items. This allows measurement of overall consistency and indicates the genuineness of the manner in which the candidate approached the assessment.

Using a customized test also allows you to run the assessment results against different models for each position. You may find that a candidate is actually a better fit for a different job.

Combine personality tests with traditional hiring methods.

The most important part of using a behavioral assessment is to remember that it is not the silver bullet. It is an incredibly helpful tool, and it stacks the odds of hiring an A player in your favor. That said, a candidate’s industry familiarity, experience and education are still critical factors to determine if they’ll succeed.

We have found that using the assessments in combination with reviewing a resume and interviewing a candidate increases the likelihood we hire a top performer and decreases the likelihood we regret hiring that person. As with most things, the more insight you have, the better decision you’ll make.

Craig Dunaway is president of Penn Station East Coast Subs, the fast-casual restaurant franchise known for its grilled made-to-order sub sandwiches, hand-squeezed lemonade and fresh-cut fries. Penn Station has more than 300 locations in 15 states. Follow Penn Station on Twitter at @PennStationSubs.