Assessment and Your Employability

Know Thyself.

With these words, Aristotle must have sowed the seeds of self-mastery and greatness to Alexander III, crown prince of Macedonia, who was receiving tutorship from one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Alexander III would later be conferred the title “The Great” when he founded one of the largest empires of the ancient world while remaining undefeated in battles and is recognised today by historians and militarists as one of the world’s greatest commanders of all time.

How important then is this ancient wisdom of knowing oneself applicable in the modern job market?

One would only need to look at the hiring companies and the employers whom are operating in the increasingly “VUCA” workplace environment.  Peter Drucker coined the term “VUCA” environment in his book, “The Fifth Discipline” to describe the increasingly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous workplace environment. Ever changing economic conditions caused by global trade, protectionism inspired trade policies are forcing organisations to develop a more agile, nimble and adaptable workforce to operate and thrive in a world filled with potentially disruptive changes in their business habitat.

In modern business world, the phase “know Thyself” have been translated for companies as definition such as an organisation’s core competencies, strength, unique propositions etc. In strategy planning, tools such as Michael Porter’s SWOT analysis are used to assist organisations to define their strength, weakness, opportunities and threats to better understand themselves against the competitors.

Organisation’s hiring processes are increasingly more complex where HR practitioners recognize that interview sessions may not be able to generate enough evidence to support a candidate’s ability and organisations are increasingly turning to assessments to assist them to evaluate a candidate more holistically. Combinations of interviews and assessment tools are used to identify an individual’s competencies, adaptability, leadership and communication styles.

There are many types of assessments, rightly or wrongly deployed, which aim to generate statistical data or behavioural evidence for the recruiter to predict or confirm a candidate’s suitability to the job role. Assessments can be questionnaire based or simulation based role play or in-basket exercises.

While the form of assessments may differ, the principles of reducing staff turnover through job mismatch and increasing the adaptability of the new employees in their new role remains the top priority.

It is noteworthy that published researches from Mclelland in 1973 and Fallowsin 1995 pointed that traditional academic aptitude and knowledge content test, as well as school grades and credentials did not predict job performance and were often biased against minorities.

In their research, McClelland however highlighted assessment tests which focused on identifying “competency” variables is a more accurate predictors of job performance and are usually less biased against minorities.

What then is a competency? In Singapore, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has broadly defined competency as having the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes of a subject matter. Although the above may be an accurate reflection of the individual’s competencies, I personally lean towards the Boyatzis’ definition of competency where he characterises competencies to encompass the following 5 key areas; Motive, Trait, Self Concept, Content Knowledge and Cognitive and Behavioural Skills.

While content knowledge and behavioural skills are observable through academic achievements and interview sessions, however factors influencing self motivations, personality traits and characteristics are often the most important drivers of performance. Yet these important factors driving performance are often are developed and set during the formative years and may remain unknown to individuals let alone the interviewers.

Assessments therefore are increasingly deployed to assist recruiters to identify the factors driving an individual performance. While assessment tools deployed in interview may not be able to accurately reflect all of your factors influencing your motivation, personality traits and self concept, it is important that you are able to articulate your internal drivers.


Recruiters are no longer hiring based on qualifications and experience only; they are hiring people. Hence beside presenting what you know and what you can do, presenting your inner side of who you are, and what motivates you, what makes you unique would be the winning edge beyond your resume.

If you are looking to acquire self awareness, do take up an assessment questionnaire developed by renowned psychologist such as TalentQ developed by the late Roger Holdsworth or Saville Wave by Peter Saville to gain a better insight of your inner drivers.

Finally, just as Scorates provided the sagely advice to Plato; and Plato to Aristotle, and Aristotle to the Great Conqueror, I would encourage you to “KNOW THYSELF”



Anthony Ho Lian Yi | Founder & Managing Director, Organisational Development Concepts (ODC)

Anthony Ho Lian Yi is the founder and managing director of Organisational Development Concepts (ODC), a Singapore based training and consultancy company specializing in areas of leadership training, management development, talent management , coaching and assessments.

ODC have conducted competency profiling sessions to assist job seekers to enhance their interview readiness through assessments centres and follow-up coaching to enhance their interview readiness.

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There are a variety of career assessment tests and tools available online. We handpicked and designed some of the most practical assessment tools that are proven to be reliable to help you explore what area of your career you are looking to learn more about.

Whether it be deciding what career to choose, assessing options for a career change or learning about different career choices, assessments can help you explore your interests, skills and preferences as they relate to choosing a major or career.

While no assessment can perfectly describe who you are or what your career is to be, they are valuable in helping you narrow your search and consider options you may not have previously considered. The start to your career discovery is just one click away (!


See also: How to be prepared for the future workforce

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