The Science of People

Behavioral Assessment: If It’s Good Business, It Is Personal

Behavioral Assessment

When the boss has to deliver bad news about a personnel decision, it’s likely that she says something to the effect: “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

Whether you’ve delivered or received that message (which was created to take some of the sting out of bad news), no one really buys it.

The truth is: even if it is driven by financial belt-tightening, acquisition, or other changes in the business, moving someone out of a job is very personal.

In business we tend to hire for experience and fire (or layoff) for behavior. But the reality is that the behavior is often not about sloth, corruption, poor performance or other types of obvious reasons for separation, it is about fit. So while an individual might have a terrific resume and relevant experience, true fit comes from their unique behavioral traits that will propel them to succeed (or fail) in their role — where, when and how your business needs it.

Likely, you can cite your team members’ last role at a competitor or even their alma mater, but do you have a clue about their personal problem-solving techniques, work habits, lifestyle priorities or coping strategies?

Behavioral Assessment: Where Efficient Becomes Effective

I’ve spent my whole career trying to make HR more effective through the use of technology. Indeed, over the past 15 years, I’ve seen HR leaders drive considerable resource advantage by making their businesses more efficient with smarter, faster performance, recruiting, succession, learning and even social applications.

But, we’ve never had the objective data to back up crucial people decisions. Industry influencers agree that the ability to predict top performers in a given area, and identify potential for success in a future role, is a bit of the Holy Grail for HR and business.

In my opinion, SuccessFinder is the best-kept secret in the industry. Developed by Dr. Larry Cash with great rigor and advanced with use by major companies and universities, SuccessFinder uniquely delivers success prediction—with up to 85% accuracy — based on mapping unique behavioral traits against benchmarks from high achievers in 500 of the most sought after career roles.

My Personal Journey with SuccessFinder

In my new role at SuccessFinder, I am using our cloud-based tool to gain instant insight into my team – even those that I’ve worked with for many years across multiple companies. As a manager, behavioral DNA assessment has helped me to hire the “right fit” people from the beginning. And it also provides otherwise hidden insight on each person’s coping strategies and problem-solving skills, which is invaluable perspective for personalizing my guidance and feedback for each person on my team.

Moreover, I’ve learned more about myself. According to my SuccessFinder profile, my behaviors are extremely well matched to leadership in the HR sector. And while I’m aware that I’m highly empathetic and highly intuitive, what I didn’t realize is that my high drive, which has helped me — over the course of my career— to deliver results and rack up achievements, needs to be tempered with more attention to recharging to manage my success. This was an ah-ha moment for me. I knew myself better at the end of it; and upon reflection, better understood the decisions I had made. This was very Illuminating and helped me feel the power of the instrument.

SuccessFinder will fundamentally shift what people expect from assessment. Our platform approach helps business and HR leaders talk about talent in an objective, quantifiable way. And unlike other vendors with myriad tests for each role in the organization, SuccessFinder has one platform for all of your talent decisions to put the right people in right roles to mitigate risk. Here, we’re just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to delivering personal, actionable insight to employees and managers alike.

With our new cloud-based platform, we are developing some phenomenal group insight capabilities as well. While I won’t give away all the details yet, just imagine if — in a blink — you could see where your entire team’s collective behavioral strengths and weaknesses were, so that you could pinpoint where to bolster your organization for success.

We think that kind of insight is a game-changer for any business. So as you kick off the new year, don’t be afraid to get personal. You, your team and your business will thank you for it.

What do you think about the power of personal insight? We’d love to know.


About the author: Susan Van Klink is the General Manager and Senior Vice President at SuccessFinder. A seasoned executive in the Human Resource software technology market, she has expertise in running operations, sales and strategy at leading companies including SuccessFactors, Taleo and Select Minds. A charismatic, driven and empathetic manager, Susan continues to build skills to support her innate behavioral DNA. She can be reached at


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