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 Response Page - Hellervik  Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Lowell Helervik Interview of
05-21-2013.
 

Schools should help teach students the conscientiousness sought by employers

                                                                                                         OVERVIEW

Conscientiousness is likely the most sought-after characteristic across all employees, says Lowell Hellervik, cofounder and retired chairman and chief executive officer of Personnel Decisions International (PDI).

In the early 1980s, PDI came up with an assessment eventually described in the profession as a "Conscientiousness Test," which has been given to 25 million Americans. The test is a 15-minute pre-employment assessment that became very widely used and praised. Some items try to predict behavior and some try to measure attitude.

Hellervik doubts that training and educational institutions pay attention to what PDI specifically is looking for in employees. Institutions could train students to have the competencies they need for the world of work. He would like schools to pay more attention to nonacademic goals and pursuits, such as teaching conscientiousness, than to the core academic subjects, which he thinks are overemphasized, especially for students who should not be thinking of traditional colleges in their futures. He believes using a a combination manager-peer-parent-student assessment of teachers would be a low-cost way to change schools, but he says the teachers unions won't allow it.

Hellervik says companies need both conscientiousness and creativity and also a balance of conflict-avoiders and conflict-makers, who know when to fight and when to pull back. He notes that high IQ is an important quality for a successful employee, but it does not always correlate with good judgment.

For the complete interview summary see: http://bit.ly/187xpMK

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Hellervik. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Conscientiousness a key qualification. (7.3 average response) An assessment of job applicants’ conscientiousness should be a key factor in an employer’s comparison of applicants’ qualifications.

2. Widely used tests can help evaluate. (6.2 average response) A good way to evaluate conscientiousness is to administer professionally prepared pre-employment tests now widely accepted by employers.

3. Worker education should stress "soft skills". (8.7 average response) All institutions preparing students for work should emphasize the development of important personal ethics, habits and attitudes, such as honesty, conscientiousness and promptness, the "soft skills" that employers value.

4. K-12 should include "soft skills" training. (7.9 average response) In particular, K-12 curricula, now heavily focused on core academics and standardized test results, should place more emphasis on the "soft skills" valued by employers.

5. Begin in elementary grades. (7.8 average response) Education in these "soft skills" should begin in elementary school.

6. Importance of the topic discussed. (6.8 average response) To help Civic Caucus plan future interviews, please rank the importance of further attention to today's topic, using the scale "not at all important" to "very important".

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Conscientiousness a key qualification.

5%

10%

10%

45%

30%

20

2. Widely used tests can help evaluate.

0%

20%

30%

35%

15%

20

3. Worker education should stress "soft skills".

5%

0%

0%

35%

60%

20

4. K-12 should include "soft skills" training.

5%

0%

20%

20%

55%

20

5. Begin in elementary grades.

5%

5%

15%

25%

50%

20

Not at all important

Moderately unimportant

Neutral

Moderately important

Very important

Total Responses

6. Importance of the topic discussed.

10%

10%

10%

45%

25%

20

Individual Responses:

Dave Broden (7.5) (2.5) (10) (10) (10) (7.5)

1. Conscientiousness a key qualification. Certainly a key factor but how is this factor weighted with other parameters—and more importantly how is it defined and measured and by whom? Can this be done uniformly and effectively even with surveys and tests?

2. Widely used tests can help evaluate. Show me a test for a parameter and I will show 10 others doing the same thing but with a different approach—again without personal contact and on site performance how can such a characteristic really be uniform across many potential employees and still be able to differentiate.

3. Worker education should stress "soft skills". Strongly agree that understanding of what a job requires beyond the basic jobs skills must be a key factor. This comes from a variety of directions—the home, the student social interaction, the student focus on quality education, teacher approach, and student awareness of what a job discipline approach really is.

4. K-12 should include "soft skills" training. See above comment.

5. Begin in elementary grades. It must start at home, in all social skills, at all levels of education and in all activities. Activities such as sports, band, choir, etc. are also key to this element

6. Importance of the topic discussed. Workplace situations are key.

David Prin (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5) (10)

6. Importance of the topic discussed. Mr. Hellervik is making an important point. Soft skills are often not emphasized as much as hard skills for employment success. Excellent topic and congratulations on using a tangible methodology for evaluation.

Ray Ayotte (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Bert LeMunyon (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (5) (5) (2.5)

4. K-12 should include "soft skills" training. For young children, these are the type of skills that should be taught in the home.

5. Begin in elementary grades. See 4 above.

6. Importance of the topic discussed. I think this topic is more important for those coming from a not-so-good home environment.

Scott Halstead (5) (5) (10) (10) (10) (0)

1. Conscientiousness a key qualification. Executive selection and performance evaluation should include many of the soft factors.

4. K-12 should include "soft skills" training. Should also be included in technical schools and higher education

Jerry Ramirez (7.5) (5) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (7.5)

Anonymous (2.5) (2.5) (7.5) (7.5) (5) (5)

Anonymous (10) (5) (10) (7.5) (2.5) (10)

Don Anderson (7.5) (5) (10) (10) (10) (7.5)

3. Worker education should stress "soft skills". The difficulty would come in adequately [identifying] the proper "soft skills" for a particular job.

4. K-12 should include "soft skills" training. That would be the place to develop "soft skills".

Tom Spitznagle (9) (5) (8) (5) (8) (5)

Al Quie (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Wayne Jennings (8) (7) (10) (10) (10) (9)

Arvonne Fraser (2) (2) (8) (5) (8) (2)

I agree the soft skills make good citizens. We shouldn't just be educating workers. Life is more than work in a democracy or any other form of government. Still, work at something one finds satisfaction in is important.

Richard McGuire (5) (3) (8) (5) (5) (7)

A short interview on a big topic. It’s a laudable goal in today’s world but I think the education system is not where these "soft skills" really need to come from. It seems to me that much of this used to and should come from a well-grounded home environment. With that environment lacking for so many young kids, can the schools fill the gap? I’m skeptical.

Fred Zimmerman (10) (8) (10) (10) (10) (10)

I once conducted a survey of interview questions of highly successful recruiters when I was in industry. It was interesting in that these successful recruiters, the top ones in our company, asked questions mainly related to character traits. One of my favorites was "Where did you go on spring break?" They didn’t want people who went to Fort Lauderdale. They wanted people who went home and helped plow – or something similar.

Stephen Bosacker (9) (7) (10) (10) (10) (9)

There are many similar constructs and instruments out there for students and employment. A primary challenge to raising this "soft" side of learning is the competition between constructs, different organizations that promote their tools and even different approaches in research that shows the value of these approaches/constructs and tools. If we can support finding ways to make a unified, reliable and compelling case to state legislatures and departments of education that these soft (life and work) skills are critical to future success and that these do not compete against academic skills, we have a chance of shifting the focus to a better balance in education. Schools are currently under heavy pressure to excel in academics, so much so that to focus time on life and work skills detracts from teaching academics. Refined focus on just academics seems to not be producing the intended results. Perhaps that is because we have set aside the priority of focusing on whole children and students and the nature of living and working in our society. This soft side helps move us back towards the whole.

Carolyn Ring (8) (8) (10) (10) (10) (8)

There is no doubt personal ethics is very important in the assessment of any employee. Education and qualifications may get them job, but without personal ethics they will not be a valued employee.

Roger A Wacek (0) (5) (0) (0) (0) (0)

Tom Swain (10) (10) (10) (10) (7) (9)

Lyall Schwarzkopf (8) (8) (8) (6) (7) (7)

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   David Broden,  Janis Clay,  Bill Frenzel,  Paul Gilje,   Jan Hively,  Dan Loritz (Chair),  Marina Lyon,  Joe Mansky, 
Tim McDonald,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and Bob White


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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