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Gaëlle Pritchard

Head of Assessment

Roles and companies are becoming more complex and sophisticated – that means we need to understand more about candidates. It’s no longer enough to rely solely on what someone has done in the past

How did you get into assessment?

My background is in HR but I have always had a broader interest than recruitment per se. Even after joining an executive search firm back in 2005, I very quicky started working closely with occupational psychologists on the assessment part of the process.

I developed my knowledge and expertise working alongside them and decided to become a certified user of Hogan. Since then, I have been involved in various types of projects to support not only recruitment, but also selection and career development.

What have been some of your professional highlights?

I have a couple which are very different in nature. I learned so much from my first manager in the insurance sector and I realised, maybe too late, how much of a sponsor he had been for me. By my late 20s he, with the backing of the company, believed in me enough to ask me to lead the consolidation of the business’ real estate assets in Singapore, which was flattering but scary. I will never forget the first time I had to lead a discussion where experienced CEOs were listening to what I had to say!

The second is around the direct impact my role has on the appointment of an individual in a particular position. I take this aspect of my role very seriously. A few years ago, an assessment I conducted made my client rethink their decision to appoint the internal candidate in the position of Country CEO. The role was based abroad and the candidate had already been told he would get the job and had started the relocation process with his family. Although I did not feel at ease delivering this news to the client, knowing the outcome would not be favourable for the internal candidate, it was the right thing to do in the long term. These instances make you think twice when assessing someone.

As a Hogan Assessor what are the key components you assess for?

The Hogan is a performance predictive tool that is based on observation. It gives you insight about an individual based on how they behave and how the world sees them. There are many things that can be investigated but I often look for how self-confident someone is, how they behave when under stress and how they adapt to and/or lead during change. Of course, it’s much broader than this and there are many other aspects of their personality that can be identified and considered.

Why do you think assessment is important?

For me, the concept of meritocracy is key, and it is one thing that assessments can support. An assessment is there to determine whether an individual is right for a role or not and to bring more objectivity to the decision-making process. Similarly, it helps people attain their goals by determining what areas they need to focus on in the context of personal development. It is a guiding tool but it also helps mitigate risk both for the individual and the business.

The fact that roles are becoming more complex and sophisticated also means that we need to understand more about candidates. It is not enough to rely on what they have done over the past 20 years, as often this is no longer relevant. Assessments, for instance, can help identify how someone behaves when facing new problems, how they take the team with them on the journey to solve the problem and what type of leadership style they are promoting.

How can organisations effectively use assessment to make informed hiring decisions?

Assessments need to be as broad and deep as possible. Decisions should be made using several factors and the assessment process should include components such as functional competency interviews, behavioural competency interviews, one or more psychometric tests and potentially presentations. It is crucial to take all of these components into account and not just rely on one.

Organisations should also do this systematically and consistently (at least for senior executive levels), perhaps using a similar competency framework for everyone, taking the opportunity to look at the team overall and how individuals complement one another. In turn, this enables the business to identify gaps in the team and recruit accordingly.

What do you think are the key skills that you bring to your role?

Interesting question. I like helping and guiding people; I want to enable them to achieve their goals. I am a naturally detailed person and am curious and inquisitive especially when it comes to people. I am organised and I like process; I think this is why I am interested in the assessment process because it has provided me with a framework to help channel my thoughts. My maths and legal background have helped to give me a strong sense of logic and a thirst for data. I think I have a strong natural intuition, but I am careful not to jump to conclusions too quickly and become judgemental. Using assessments has helped me to support this intuition with evidence and data.

Gaëlle heads up the Assessment practice. With a background in insurance and executive search, she spent the past 10 years developing her specialism in executive leadership assessment. As an international HR professional, she initially gained her expertise with AXA in Singapore and AEGON Direct Marketing Services based in London and later in Texas. She graduated with a French Master’s in Business Law completed at the University of Grenoble (France) in 1992. She is a certified Hogan assessor.