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Contact centres: how to recruit and retain high performing agents

Five steps to help contact centres to identify, select and retain talented agents are available in a new insight guide from cut-e.

Called ‘Recruiting special agents’, the guide provides best practice advice to help contact centre recruiters to hire the right people, differentiate their employer brand, engage candidates and improve the efficiency of their selection process.

“Many people who apply for agent positions in contact centres are unsuited to the job,” said Andreas Lohff of cut-e. “This guide explains how to attract, recruit and retain ‘right fit’ agents and how you can save time and resources in recruitment.”

The guide outlines how technology can optimise the selection process and cut the time-to-hire. “Integrating systems such as your Applicant Tracking System and HR Information System can create efficiencies,” said Andreas Lohff. “It also enables you to mine and utilise employee data in ways that weren’t possible before. This opens the door to a wealth of new talent analytics that can further improve your recruitment, increase sales and help you to avoid the disruption of hiring the wrong people.”

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Be aware of "black box" problems when using AI for recruiting

The Student Employer - 31st October 2018,

Using artificial Intelligence (AI) for recruiting can enhance your candidate selection process, but beware of ‘black box’ algorithms that can lead to recruitment decisions that you can’t defend. Richard Justenhoven explains the two types of AI system and how it can be used effectively in assessment.

A Guide to AI

Global Recruiter - 22nd October 2018,

Richard Justenhoven gives four key guidelines to using AI in recruitment.

The goal of any recruitment process is to identify the right person for the job. The closer you match the individual to the requirements of the role, the more effective that person will be. You don’t need Artificial Intelligence to achieve this. But AI will help you do it quicker and more efficiently.

Recruiting safe commercial drivers

HRHQ - 22nd October 2018, Ireland

Commercial drivers - whether they drive a train, lorry, bus, ferry, delivery van or a forklift - are responsible for the safety of their passengers or cargo, and their vehicles. If you recruit drivers, you’ll undoubtedly check whether job candidates have the necessary driving skills and the required licences or certificates. You may even conduct medical and eyesight checks. But, can you be confident those individuals will drive safely?

Suzanne Courtney: How to attract and select great graduates

HR review - 5th October 2018, UK

In the face of fierce competition to find the right talent, today’s graduate recruiters are striving to make their assessment and selection processes shorter, more focused and more engaging. Here are five essential tips to help you to stand out from the crowd:

The essential competencies for digital transformation

HRHQ - 10th September 2018, Ireland

To survive in the digital future, organisations need a fluid structure, an agile culture and employees who are ‘digitally-ready’ to cope with rapidly changing circumstances. Digital readiness is not about being proficient with technology - it’s not about whether you can use Excel or mobile devices - and it is not related to age. Every employee now needs the ability to perform tasks, manage information, share knowledge and work with others in a digital context.

cut-e scienceBlog

Game-based Assessment. We Present Our Research

Sharing our research insights with colleagues is a core part of our commitment to researching and developing the most robust, user-friendly and valuable assessments. We are delighted that Alina Siemsen is presenting at the Game-based Assessment Workshop on August 22-23. In this blog article, Alina gives us an insight into what she will be sharing at the workshop.

gamification presentation

Game-based assessments come in various formats and take on different appearances. But there is also some confusion in the market as to how a gaming format used to attract applicants differs from game-based assessment or indeed gamified assessment. To clarify, I’ve created this short video which I hope explains the differences!

Gamified Assessment

Before I head off to the workshop, I thought I’d answer some of the common questions I get asked about the gamification of assessment.

Why are the topics of game-based assessment and the gamification of assessment important?

Technological capabilities and candidate expectations are changing very quickly and so it’s important that we keep abreast of these developments. Technology enables to do many things in assessment but it is important to understand not only what we can and cannot do in a new format of test, but also how robust and reliable the assessment may be.

As talent professionals, we want gamified assessment to include the high quality psychometric properties that more traditional tests have and this means that we must study, investigate, discuss and share our findings. It may require us to invest more time in thinking about the design elements of an assessment than we are used to and indeed my presentation will draw on some of our findings to date in the areas of the value of having a coherent cover story, including levels with the assessment and offering instant feedback to the candidate.

Everyone at Aon is committed to researching and developing gamified assessments but they must be valid, useful and stable tools. After all, if they are used to make decisions about people and their careers, we must make sure that we understand how such a test works and how people respond to it.

Who is most impacted by the move towards gamifying assessment?

Clearly, the candidates who get to engage with a gamified assessment rather than a more usual online test, are at the coalface of completing the assessment. They may or may not be familiar with such tests, and some may argue that this can be an advantage or disadvantage, and our research has looked into this.

HR practitioners also need to adjust. They must understand how to judge a good quality gamified assessment and how best to include this within their hiring process. They may need to adapt their candidate communications and make sure their internal stakeholders understand the assessment and the information it is providing.

Researchers too are affected by the introduction of gamified assessment. There have not been the decades of research yet into gamification, and so much more is needed. We are already contributing widely and we’re happy to share our finding with other assessment vendors. They can learn from our mistakes and take on board the candidate feedback that we have researched.

What is it that you find most exciting about gamified assessment?

I think that the journey of gamification has been really interesting. We started looking as simply including a cover story that wrapped around our mobile first ability tests. We listened to the feedback clients and candidates gave us about what works and what doesn’t. We went through a cycle of adjusting what we did, prototyping it, adjusting it a little more and it was exciting to see the iterative process and how gamification developed based on real feedback and real research.

What is the key message about gamified assessment that you want delegates to take away from your presentation?

At all times consider the candidate. That is, where in their life, career and application process are they? How much ‘game’ is appropriate versus the more ‘serious’. And, never compromise on the psychometrics! 


Presentation Title: smartPredict - Development Insights and Study Results of Aon's Gamified Assessment Series

I shall be taking part in the Game-based Assessment Workshop in Minneapolis on August 22-23 and will share with the participants the development journey of our gamified cognitive assessment series – smartPredict. I’l l take delegates through the rationale for its development and show how our development team combined sound psychological research and game design elements to create a state of the art, mobile first ability assessment series. I’ll share the challenges and learnings from the project and explore the importance of adhering to the guidelines developed by various HR and testing authorities such as the SIOP Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures, the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, and the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures. These are essential benchmarks for organizations such as Aon’s Assessment Solutions and we work tirelessly to ensure that our assessments fulfil certain quality standards.

This presentation offers an overview of the research and combined thinking from a range of disciplines on which the smartPredict assessments are built. It’ll describe the studies and our findings across a range of topics such as validity, mobile-desktop equivalence, adverse impact, and applicant reactions to gamified assessments.

The Game-based Workshop is sponsored by the US National Science Foundation and is being held in Minneapolis, US on August 22-23, 2019. For more information, go to

For more information about Aon's gamified assessments, visit our website.

How to Measure Structure

We tend to spot quite easily those who approach their work in a structured manner. They’re the colleagues that are planful, detail-oriented, and rule-conscious. They are likely to access project plans and checklists and may not be comfortable when conversations turn to the bigger picture and throwing out the rulebook.

But how can we measure objectively this characteristic?

how to measure structure

Structure is one of the areas measured in our ADEPT-15® personality questionnaire and forms part of the Task Style (together with Drive). The Task Style is one of six broad workstyles. 

How is Structure Seen in Behavior?

Structure, in terms of the ADEPT-15® aspect is centered around an individual’s orientation towards planning, details, rules and processes. Those scoring high on Structure are likely to be orderly and neat, with plans and processes in place and may be less creative. Those with a lower score, will tend to be big picture thinkers and not get into the detail.

As with all personality characteristics, there is no ideal position on the scale; different roles require different blends of behaviors. Below are some of the areas to leverage and watch out for at both ends of the Structure scale.

The Leverage Points

Those who score high on Structure are likely to be:

  • Detail-oriented and planful.
  • Practical and prudent.
  • Careful and rule-oriented, following processes and procedures.
  • Orderly and neat.
  • Uneasy with those that do not follow processes and procedures.

Those scoring low tend to be:

  • Big picture thinkers.
  • More innovative.
  • Spontaneous and uninhibited.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity.
  • More creative and not bound by rules or tradition.
  • Enjoy working his or her own way – and not how someone else dictates.

The Watch-Outs

Watch out for the following with high-scorers on Structure:

  • Can be perfectionistic.
  • May have difficulty with ambiguity.
  • Likely to have less of a big-picture focus.
  • Less creative.
  • Likely to be perceived by others to be inflexible.
  • May hold others to impossible standards.
  • May require very specific instructions and guidelines.

Watch out for the following with low-scorers on Structure:

  • Likely to view rules as optional (at least those developed by someone else!).
  • May overlook details or just not see the point of detail.
  • May create a project plan if required to – but then never look at it again.
  • May not appreciate that others require structure and therefore not provide it to them.

The Role of Structure in the Workplace

The extent to which someone is planful, detail-oriented, and rule-conscious impacts other aspects of daily working behavior. For example, an individual’s score on the Structure scale will indicate how he or she will prioritize work, manage resources, attend to detail, take risks and think systematically.

Prioritizing Work

Those high on Structure will adopt a systematic and methodical approach to work to a much greater degree than others. This implies they will consistently employ a logical approach toward prioritization-related decisions by examining facts, criteria (e.g., deadlines, importance, impact), and available resources, while ensuring successful completion of all priorities on time.

Managing Resources

Individuals that score highly on Structure are exceptionally detail-oriented and take a planful and prudent approach to their work. This suggests that they will be very likely to proactively engage in the necessary actions to structure and organize work teams (e.g., develop project plans and responsibility assignment matrices) as well as ensure projects are resourced appropriately (e.g., staff, tools) to efficiently meet deadlines within budget.

Attending to Critical Detail

Those with high Structure take a methodical approach to their work. They are likely to be highly effective in attending to critical details of work processes and project plans. However, their perfectionism may lead them to become excessively fixated by smaller details within their work processes.

Taking Prudent Risks

Individuals scoring high on Structure are deliberate and cautious in their approach to opportunities. As such, they may be more inclined than others to carefully evaluate all the risks associated with them; however, this can create a tendency to be overly risk-averse and avoid reasonable risks altogether.

Thinking Systematically

Low scorers will be less focused on detail. This will likely make it much easier them, compared to others, to develop and leverage a broad and systemic perspective to anticipate the effect of decisions and actions on their organization.

Compensating for the Structure Score

Depending on the location of the Structure score on the scale, you might want to take a look at the other ADEPT-15 scale scores to understand how these may

When Structure scores are low, we need to look for:

  • Higher Ambition and / or Drive scores. These can help mitigate a lack of organizational skills.

When Structure scores are high, the ability to see the bigger picture may be inhibited and so we need to look for:

  • Higher Conceptual scores. This indicates a propensity to be inquisitive, creative, and abstract.
  • Higher Flexibility scores (i.e., open-mindedness and adaptability). Again, these can help overcome lack of flexibility and being overly rule-focused.


For more about assessing structure, take a look at our personality questionnaire ADEPT-15®


About ADEPT-15®

ADEPT-15® is the most advanced, secure, and award-winning* personality test available. With over 50 years of personality, leadership, and psychometric research combined with an adaptive approach to assessment design, ADEPT-15® measures 15 personality traits critical to successful workplace performance. It looks at our preferences, work styles and tendencies as well as what gives us energy and our possible blind spots. It indicates our strengths and areas for development as well as the leadership style we may use, and how others may see us.


*M. Scott Myers Award for Applied Research & International Personnel Assessment Council Innovations in Assessment Award

Who will innovate? A new approach to spotting the ‘creatives’

For many organizations, workplace innovation is becoming increasingly important. Generating ideas, finding new angles, taking a different perspective all help to differentiate products and services - and businesses.

But how can we identify those in our teams or in our applicant pool who are ‘creative’ or ‘innovative’?

As product development director, I have been interested in this area for many years and have explored and investigated this with our product development team. We have recently published our research studies in the EAWOP journal, InPractice and below is a summary. You can access the full article here.  

Why did we set out to re-look at how to assess creativity?

For decades, assessing creativity has fallen to either practical and difficult-to-score exercises, or paper-based assessments which need in-person supervision and specialist scorers.

We knew that the advances in psychometrics and technology could open up new and robust ways to assess creativity – and we wanted to explore this.

What were the fundamentals driving our research studies?

Quite simply, we wanted to see if we could develop an online, unsupervised test that could be completed by candidates remotely which was valid, robust and indicated the level of creativity of an individual. At the start of our research we did not know if this was possible but over time we developed an approach and algorithm that resulted in what we now know as our sparks test.  

A summary of our work is below.

Our research

When being assessed objectively, innovation or creativity is typically viewed as consisting of four components:

  1. Fluency - the number of ideas or responses given within a time-frame
  2. Flexibility - the diversity of categories and perspectives offered
  3. Originality - the extent to which responses are novel, unconventional and infrequent
  4. Elaboration – the amount of detail given in each response

Taking these, we set out to develop an online creativity test across three studies that would use a fully automated scoring algorithm, which would be optimized for unsupervised settings and would be language independent.

The studies: a summary

In the first of these three studies - and not knowing where our research would take us - we set out to investigate if it was possible to design a scoring algorithm for a test such as the TTCT (Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, 1974). This was an established test which is highly resource intensive and impractical for wide use as a talent assessment.

The results from this study gave us a clear indication of the key differentiators of creativity and this helped us to define the algorithm.

We validated these differentiators in our next studies, but Study 2 focused on how to measure the Originality component of innovation as this was the far more complex component of the algorithm. For Study 2, we designed a new online creativity test (later to be known as sparks).

Study 3 focused on the three scores of Fluency, Flexibility, and Originality as well as looking at the entire creativity test for test-retest reliability and convergent and discriminant validity.

The result of the final study was the release of sparks: an online creativity test for unsupervised use and makes use of automated scoring algorithms which removes the resource need of having trained experts as assessors.

Next steps

But the work doesn’t stop. Since the initial three studies, we have embarked on a program of continued research to look at how the scoring algorithms generalize across those with different backgrounds and those with different levels of computer usage, as well as investigating the prognostic validity of the tool.

But sparks is already part of the assessment toolkit for talent practitioners. It can be used early in the hiring process to identify those who are likely to be creative and an idea generator – and also with current employees when they’re needing to draw together a creative team from a broader talent pool.  sparks adds that extra piece of information to the decision-making process.

Learn more about sparks here -


Amabile, T. M., Conti, R., Coon, H., Lazenby, J., & Herron, M. (1996). Assessing the work environment for creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 39(5), 1154-1184.

Kesselring, A., Blasy, C., & Scopetta, A. (August, 2014). Workplace Innovation: Concepts and indicators. Brussels: European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry.

Maier, G. W., Streicher, B., Jonas, E., & Frey, D. (2007). Innovation und Kreativität. In D. Frey & L. von Rosenstiel (Eds.), Enzyklopädie der Psychologie: Wirtschaftspsychologie (pp. 809-855). Stuttgart: Hogrefe.

Torrance, E. P. (1974). The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking-Norms-Technical Manual Research Edition-Verbal Tests, Forms A and B- Figural Tests, Forms A and B. Princeton, NJ: Personnel Press.

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