Rich Emrich is the CEO of Altus Assessments
Tell us about Altus Assessments and the journey to where you are now.
Altus Assessments is a company that we spun out of McMaster University, commercializing an assessment that they use to screen academic applicants for professionalism. You can think of us like an SAT for personal and professional characteristics.
All these programs are looking for something beyond whether an applicant is ‘book smart’. They want to know: does this person have good communication skills? Are they empathetic? Are they good at working in teams? That want cuts across many different programs.
As opposed to having the academic program do all the work, they send all applications to us. We then administer an online situational judgment test that evaluates the applicants and delivers the score back to the programs.
That score is then used in combination with the cognitive measures including standardized cognitive tests like the MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, SAT. This combination gives a more complete view of the applicant.
And then they can do different things. They can send an offer out to those people, or they can invite them in to an interview. But now they are inviting people in to interview that are much higher calibre. They have more holistically high-quality applicants.
How does company culture contribute to organizational performance?
The people in the organization are what helps us succeed. Our product is our product. The market is the market. But the people are the magic ingredients that help you execute.
People have to want to love coming to work. They have to believe that they are making a real difference in the world, and I’m proud to say that we have those ingredients here.
How do you attract and retain staff who best fit the culture?
Our attitude around retaining people is to operate in a people-first way. One of the things that makes us really special as a company is the fact that we have that caring value. That value manifests itself in colleagues caring for other colleagues and thinking about what could we be doing in social events. If somebody is having a rough time, our first thought is – how do I help them out? That’s really critical.
What’s next for Altus Assessments?
Next, we’re looking at how do we not just assess people at point and time as they apply, but how do we do a better job at assessing for these skills in the program? How do we allow the programs to teach these skills in a much more effective way in order to graduate people that are professionals that have much better personal characteristics?