Bre LaMountain: Helping companies hire the right people
by WILLIAM WRIGHT Lifestyles Editor
Sep 01, 2014 | 1525 views | 0 0 comments | 70 70 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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BRE LAMOUNTAIN, an industrial-organizational psychology practitioner at Workforce Development in Cleveland, is trained to analyze and recommend the most qualified people to work in any position on any workforce. Top left, Antwone Tate, a precomputer science major at Cleveland State, allowed LaMountain to observe as he demonstrated what employees or potential employees might experience when using the Electrical Skills Testing Device. According to LaMountain, who is skilled in setting up several testing machines (as seen left), the devices can help analyze the quality of current workers and improve the hiring efficiency of any manufacturing company. Below, LaMountain, left, posed with fellow I.O., Alyssa Douglass.   Banner photos, WILLIAM WRIGHT
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The cost of hiring the wrong person can run into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, not to mention the potential negative impact to a company’s reputation, morale and productivity, according to the New York Society of Security Analysts.

It’s news publication, The Finance Professional’s Post, quoted The Economist in stating that unsuccessful hiring is “‘the single biggest problem in business today’ and The Harvard Business Review points out that as much as 80 percent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions.”

Bre LaMountain, the coordinator and assessor for Workforce Development at Cleveland State Community College, is not at all surprised. According to LaMountain, an industrial-organizational psychology practitioner, the key to any successful business lies in hiring the right people. That is where Workforce Development comes in.

“We’d like to let the industry know — whether it’s manufacturing, banking, fast food, engineering — any industry, we can help with their workforce. We’re a full business consulting service. When companies need to hire new employees we can help. We’ve conducted job analysis, we’ve developed new hands-on testing devices for mechanical maintenance personnel for companies. We’ve developed soft skill training for companies. We work with lots of hands-on industrial type tests.

“We go into both the public and private sectors and do organizational development for companies. When I first came to Workforce Development, we focused on advanced manufacturing. But the capabilities here at Cleveland State, in our department, are that we can address any business need, any people issue, any human resource issue that entails training. We can do it. We can come in and do testing for companies and develop tests, questionnaires and surveys. We provide a lot of statistical analysis.”

LaMountain is also qualified to perform psychometric tests, which are designed to objectively measure a person’s personality, intelligence and mental ability to provide employers with a reliable method of selecting the most suitable job applicants or candidates for promotion. Psychometric testing is now used by more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies in the United States and many employers across most sectors, including IT, engineering, energy, banking, consultancy, accounting, civil service, consumer goods and retail.

Living in a litigious society where both hiring and firing can prove costly, LaMountain spoke of the importance of being “well versed” with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the uniform guidelines for hiring as well as employment laws.

“There are a lot of legalities that we have to understand to be able to do this work,” she said. “We’re dealing with selection law. You have to be very careful about the way you hire people, the kind of tests you use and methods you use to cut down the selection pool.”

LaMountain and Douglass are the two industrial-organizational psychology practitioners, often called I.O.’s, who are trained and qualified to go into a factory and test individuals or the entire mechanical workforce of a company to determine each person’s skill level.

Explaining the procedures they took recently with one corporation, LaMountain said, “We went in on every shift — first, second and third. The employees would come off of their shift for up to 90 minutes and spend time with us at these machines that have been validated for use with this test. We would introduce a fault into them and we time the person while they fixed it. We’re saying we know this is standardized a certain way. So if this individual has fixed all the tasks within a certain time, then this person would rank as a mechanic level A or a mechanic level B. And we can say, based on the use of the tools, this person needs training in this or this — based on our observations.”

In addition to hands-on training inside the workstation, Workforce Development also offers boot camps, according to LaMountain, who says, “These are very high energy camps. A company will approach us and say, for example, ‘We have a certain amount of positions to fill with mechanical maintenance workers. We’ll place a joint ad in the paper and the people who apply for that position understand that they’ll have to go through a WorkKeys assessment test.”

LaMountain said applicants are given advanced notice that they will have to go through 20 hours of boot camp in mechanical maintenance at Cleveland State and take a hands-on assessment before they can be considered for employment.

“We’ll end up with around 60 people applying for these jobs,” she said. “That information will go to the company and the company will send it straight to me. I call them and set them up to take a WorkKeys test, which is a knowledge test to test them for reading, applied mathematics and locating information. If they make a 3 on each one of those, which is a passing score, then they’ll go on to the next test, which is with the hands-on machine where you introduce faults into it and you time each individual as they fix it. If they pass, they’ll go on into the training.”

During this process, LaMountain, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology, is watching how each potential employee interacts with others, how they listen and learn, their progress in boot camp and their persistence. By the end of the week some will have dropped out for various reasons, giving LaMountain exactly what she wants — the most qualified prospects for a company to hire, thus saving that business hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“So very quickly, within three weeks after a company approaches us, we have a qualified group of people who are ready to be hired with remarkable scores — who have shown their aptitude and skills,” she said. “It’s all about closing the skills gaps. Part of that is knowing what to test for.”

Companies like Wacker, Cormetech, Georgia-Pacific and Merck have already used this analytical approach to hiring qualified people provided by Workforce Development in Cleveland.

“My favorite thing about Workforce Development is how we keep this ongoing conversation with industry that needs to happen so that we know what skills we need to be training and help fill those positions in the industry,” LaMountain said.

“We’re diversified in what we can offer companies. We know different companies need different things. We can help any workforce — law enforcement, the medical field, commercial organizations — any kind of organization with needs. When it comes to selection, training and organizational development, if you approach Cleveland State Workforce Development, we can do all of that for you. We can help you with solutions.”

For further information, visit clevelandstatecc.edu/onesource or call 423-614-8795. To contact Bre LaMountain email: alamountain@clevelandstatecc.edu.