Using Saville Wave for More Effective Recruitment Interviews

I previously wrote about using psychometric inventories (more frequently called personality assessments) for better decision-making in recruitment. Many readers have asked me to be more specific and to discuss a specific instrument to better aid their understanding of how the process might work. This posting is in response to those requests.

The instrument I’ll use as an example is the Saville Wave personality questionnaires – there are two versions users can opt for: Professional Styles which is used in more senior level recruitment and development, and Focus Styles which is suitable for general talent shortlisting, hiring and development. Both are based on Wave Styles and the resulting report explores an individual’s motives, preferences, needs and talents in critical work areas.

The Saville Wave personality questionnaires are considered to be the most powerful predictors of workplace performance and potential, and one of its key strengths is that it is the only psychometric tool to identify alignment between work motives and individual talent. So not only does it indicate a person’s ability (skill or talent) in terms of an important work-related behaviour, but it also indicates their willingness or motivation to perform that work-related behaviour. If a particular behaviour is required for success in a specific job, it is neither effective nor efficient to hire someone who is skilled in that behaviour but is unwilling to or dislikes doing it!

Another strength is that the same Saville Wave personality questionnaires can be used for recruitment, on-boarding, career and performance development, leadership potential, etc, which means that everybody involved, whether HR recruitment, HR talent management, line managers, or senior management, are talking and understanding the same language. This has proven to give companies greater consistency and alignment in their people management.

So how does it work?

Saville Wave reports are structured into four clusters of Thought, Influence, Adaptability and Delivery.

  • The Thought cluster is focused on developing ideas, from analysing problems and showing interest in underlying principles through to being more expansive and divergent in thought by being creative and strategic.
  • The Influence cluster relates to communication and working with others. It is concerned with establishing positive relationships with people and demonstrating positive leadership behaviours.
  • The Adaptability cluster covers areas of emotional, behavioural and social adaptability, respectively.
  • The Delivery cluster is focused on implementation and delivery of results, from ensuring high standards of delivery through to proactively making things happen.

Each of the four cluster has three sections, and each section has three dimensions, giving a total of 36 dimensions. These 36 dimensions of work related behaviours form the Focus Styles reports and include the most important behaviours in all work contexts. The Focus Styles report is the one most widely used.

However, each of these 36 dimensions are further comprised of three underlying facets of work related behaviours to provide 108 facets in total in the Expert Styles reports. The more detailed Expert Styles report is mainly only used in high level positions

You can view an example of an Expert Report here. This shows the 36 dimensions as well as the full 108 facets of work-related behaviours that are examined in the personality questionnaires.

For recruitment purposes, a company will determine which of the 36 dimensions are the most important behaviours required to do a particular job well – they usually also identify which are required to do the job exceptionally well. How people rate and rank themselves against these particular dimensions are highlighted in the report. A useful feature of the Wave reports is that they have an in-built mechanism to detect manipulation or people pretending to be something they are not – such behaviour will show inconsistencies in responses and will be highlighted in the report.

There is an Interview Guide version of the Wave report which goes further than the Focus Styles or Expert Styles reports. This identifies areas an interviewer needs to explore in more detail with a candidate, and even provides a list of increasingly probing questions to ask the candidate about these areas of concern. This ensures that all important areas of performance are explored with candidates, and any crucial area that a candidate seems to be challenged in are properly investigated.

An example of an Interview Guide can be viewed here.

Hopefully this brief article has provided a useful example of how a psychometric instrument such as the Saville Wave can take a lot of the ‘hit and miss’ out of recruitment interviewing. While a Wave report can cost about SGD $200, this is insignificant when you consider that the real costs involved in a bad hiring decision are roughly three times the annual salary of the position. Furthermore, the use of a professional instrument such as Saville Wave provides a professional experience for candidates which starts a good relationship with a potential employee and protects the company’s brand.

Published by

Nigel Nolan - Managing Consultant, Sandbox Advisors

Nigel has vast experience in Training & Development, Facilitation, Lecturing, General Management and Operations. In addition to an educational background in philosophy, psychology, theology and communications, he has advanced qualifications in business, adult education and coaching.

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