Finding Top Talent for Communication Centers

In 1979, a linebacker named Tom Cousineau was selected as the top pick in the NFL draft. It wasn’t until 81 players later that a quarterback named Joe Montana was selected.

Both were extensively scouted, tested and interviewed, so logic would have told you that Cousineau would be the star – but 37 years later it is Joe Montana who amassed three Super Bowl victories and a reputation as arguably one of the best quarterback’s in history, while Cousineau is the answer to a trivia question.

In the public safety world, it can be just as hard to predict whether one has hired the right person. This is especially true with public safety telecommunicators, where the difference between a good and poor dispatcher could mean the difference between life and death. 

Most communication centers have a very thorough screening process in place, yet almost all managers would admit there is still a wide range of performance amongst their current dispatchers. Obviously, something is not being measured in the hiring process…but that can change. A behaviorally based 911 Dispatcher assessment, developed by Select Advantage, is based on validated job-related criteria.   This assessment measures specific job behaviors, rather than personality or personal constructs. It was developed using outstanding dispatchers as the model, and is based on the principle that the common denominator among top-performing dispatchers is not just skills or the ability to multitask, but more importantly their behavioral approach to the job. 

Why do so many new hires never make it through their initial training?

According to the Harvard Business Review it has been shown that up to 80% of employee turnover is due to making a poor decision in the hiring process. The average estimate given by the Labor Department for the cost of replacing a new hire is one-third of their annual salary. This can get very costly, very fast. 

In a blind study completed with 18 different communication centers around the country, each manager was asked to select two or three of their best dispatchers, and two or three of their not-so-great dispatchers, and then administer the Select Advantage assessment to both groups. The results have been over 90% accurate at predicting which group the employee was identified with. How valuable would that information have been prior to them making a hiring commitment? 

Our assessments only take about one hour to complete and are very simple to administer. In addition to the 911 Dispatcher assessment, we also offer a Communication Supervisor assessment, which has developed using the same process described. Our assessments are available to administer on-line (with no downloading necessary) as well as a paper and pencil version. For the online version results are available immediately upon completion, and usually within 2 hours for the paper version. 

So for all of you wondering if you have found the next Joe Montana, or Tom Cousineau, please consider what your current hiring process might not be telling you, and how important it is to have all the information before making a decision.

Please contact us to find out more: at (800)377-0554 or