When small businesses staff up, they don’t always know what or who they’re looking for.

They may have titles in mind, but not clear agreement on the traits and motivation that are needed to do the job.

This is not being slack. It’s the norm.

Written job descriptions typically only cover skills that are apparent in a resume: closing, prospecting, customer service, etc. Or they might include “leadership” but without any detail of what that would look like in the particular job.

What’s missing is “the type of person” needed for the job. Do their behaviors and motivations line up with what the job offers. Will they be happy? Will they thrive in the job? Will they deliver results?

Assessments are the best, most proven way to reveal these important traits in candidates and can help you precisely match an individual to the role. But first, you need to assess and define the job.

Benchmarking is the process of identifying and articulating the specific talent requirements of your key positions. It’s the process we go through with clients to ensure that their assessments are accurately focused for the jobs being filled. It’s vital before you do any assessments.

Benchmarking gives a target for the assessments you’ll give job candidates, and it’s also an illuminating and informative process for the management team, in an of itself.

Here’s how.

Key managers who are directly involved in the role’s success are brought together for a session of discussion and brainstorming to define not just the job to fill, but the ideal personality profile for the role.

The process focuses on these three questions:

  • Why does this job exist?
  • What key results reflect superior performance? (Think six months into the position.)
  • Why must this position exist for the organization to be successful?

The goal is to clearly define the knowledge, hard skills, people skills, behavior and culture needed for superior performance. What is the purpose of the job? What kind of person in this job? What do they need to do daily? What does success look like? What are the rewards? What kind of person will be motivated to do this day in and day out? Who will thrive? Who will get bored?

The process results in a comprehensive, ranked and weighted job description as follows:

  • Key Characteristics (4 Areas) – The level of importance for four key areas of business risk.
  • Job Competencies Hierarchy (25 Areas) – Key job competencies their importance to this specific job. Each job has a unique ranking of competencies, reflecting different levels of capacities required by different jobs for superior performance.
  • Driving Forces Hierarchy (12 Areas) – The rewards the job may provide. More specifically it identifies sources of motivation for the individual performing the job. It clarifies what is necessary for superior performance and engagement on the job.
  • Behavioral Hierarchy (12 Areas) – A wish list for the ideal talent, and everything is framed with business goals. This results in a long list of personality traits and behaviors you’re looking for. It’s rapid brainstorming, so the more the better to start with.

Once the job itself has been assessed and defined, you’re ready to assess the top candidates.

Now that you know the type of personality you’re looking for, the candidates’ assessments will yield accurate and clarifying reports of each person showing how well each aligns with each behavioral facet of the job.

Benchmarking is time consuming, but it’s immensely valuable in the hiring process.

Time-pressed managers always tell us they’re glad they invested the time when we’re finished. Because two things happen: First, assessments work better, and second, management has a far better shared understanding of the team it’s assembling.