Malt-O-Meal

Competency Based Reliable Assessment

Minneapolis-based Malt-O-Meal, founded in 1919, produces branded and private label cereals for the grocery industry. The fourth largest cereal company in the U.S., it distributes products in over 70 percent of retail grocery stores. Malt-O-Meal has more than 1300 employees and is proud to offer “all the nutrition and taste [families] expect from the expensive brands for a much better value.”


The Challenge

Malt-O-Meal partnered with PSI to develop and implement a valid and reliable selection system to screen applicants for production jobs. The project was driven by two broad goals: to enhance the quality of hire by assessing characteristics essential to successful job performance and to efficiently manage the large applicant pool.


The Solution

CaseHuman capital consultants at PSI conducted a thorough job analysis of the production positions to determine the work activities and individual characteristics required for successful job performance. PSI consultants then created a competency model outlining the critical abilities and traits needed in the production jobs. This model was used to guide the selection of job-related pre-employment assessments that best fit Malt-O-Meal’s hiring process and administrative and financial requirements. The goal of the assessments was to screen out low-potential applicants to enhance the quality of the interview pool and decrease its size.
To optimize the efficiency of the selection process, a biodata assessment was first delivered remotely via the PSI web-based testing system. Applicants who passed this assessment were asked to complete an additional online cognitive assessment in a proctored setting at Malt-O-Meal. These assessments were validated using a concurrent validation approach. Based on the results of the validation data analyses, cut scores and decision rules specific to Malt-O-Meal were integrated into the custom online test results reports, available to test administrators minutes after assessments were completed. Each report included a recommendation on whether a candidate should continue in the selection process.

Candidates who received a “qualified” rating on the assessments continued to the interview stage. To assist with this stage, PSI consultants created two interview guides which were provided in the results report of the second online assessment. The interviews further evaluated the critical competencies measured by the assessments and covered competencies not measured by them. To ensure consistent interview administration, each guide provided comprehensive instructions, a script to be read to interviewees, and tips for rating candidates. To reduce the subjectivity inherent in interviews and facilitate candidate comparisons, the interview guides included behavioral questions related to specific competencies in the competency model. These questions and related follow-up probes elicited information about actions taken in a past work situation and the results of those actions. The guides also included behavioral anchors exemplifying ineffective, effective, and highly effective behaviors to assist interviewers in assigning numerical ratings to responses. A summary rating was provided at the end of each interview guide to help the interviewer combine individual competency ratings into an overall recommendation.


The Results

PSI’s custom solution significantly enhanced the hiring process at Malt-O-Meal. The online pre-employment assessments effectively screened out low-potential candidates and reduced the time spent interviewing applicants unlikely to be successful. According to Malt-O-Meal’s Human Resources Department, managers conducting interviews “feel they are spending time with high-quality candidates.” The step-by-step process and standardized tools provided consistency across candidates, locations, and hiring cycles. Customized decision rules and structured, behavioral interviews facilitated decision making at each stage of the hiring process. The assessments and interview guides facilitated the selection process by focusing on individual characteristics critical to successful job performance. The program had such success that Malt-O-Meal departments and plants not currently using PSI’s solution have begun to recognize its value and are eager to apply it to their areas. In addition, Malt-O-Meal is currently examining possibilities for using the PSI solution with other jobs.


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