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Meet the man who revolutionized employee selection: Hire smarter with the 15dots® Selection Process

Meet the man who revolutionized employee selection: Hire smarter with the 15dots® Selection Process

A boyhood fascination with human behavior set the course of Joe Nowlin’s life. Joe became an industrial psychologist and eventually, a college professor affectionately known as “Doc.” As a business professor at Indiana University, the University of Delaware, and UW-Oshkosh, Doc was researching human behavior as it relates to employee testing, interviewing, and job performance. While studying the validity of candidate-screening tests, Doc started to develop his own employee selection process. The Nowlin™ Selection Process, known today as the 15dots® Selection Process, is the result of his efforts. 15dots refers to five ability tests and 10 behavior-based interview dimensions critical to employee selection. 

Employee selection process leads to astonishing turn-around  

In the mid-1980s, Doc left his tenured faculty position to start a new career. Like a lawman in the Wild West, Doc rode into U.S. pulp and paper mills. He delivered a valid, objective, and technically sound method of employee selection. The turn-around he witnessed was astonishing.  

Consider this anecdote about an unprofitable paper mill in Portland, Oregon. A new owner came onboard and planned to re-select employees for the entire mill. Doc and his team received 3,000 applications. They tested and interviewed 1,500 people to select 250 to work in the mill. In the first year of operation, productivity was up 39 percent without any capital investment. Profitability soared. The selection process was the secret sauce that turned that mill around. 

Union-tested, legally sound selection process 

That leads to the story of the Covington, Virginia, paper mill. The corporation built a $500 million paper machine, which in 1984, was the largest capital investment in the state. From a pool of 1,200 employees, 44 highly able, highly motivated candidates were chosen to operate the expensive machine. While the mill projected $1.5 million for start-up production, just $900,000 was spent instead, a 40% savings. This was attributed to the selection process. 

But there was a catch. A union grievance led to arbitration. While a typical arbitration takes a half-day, this grievance took five days to resolve. Finally, the arbitrator found in favor of the company, not the union. Doc was working at a mill in Memphis when he heard the good news. He was so elated; he could have flown home without an airplane. Ten years later the union requested the same process to be used for yet another new paper machine. 

After 50 years in the employee selection field, Doc isn’t ready to ride off into the sunset just yet. He is a 15dots consulting partner working from his home in Bloomington, Indiana.  

Giving employers the hiring tools they need to thrive 

15 Dots LLC, based in Neenah, Wisconsin, trains HR leaders and organizational personnel to adopt a rigorous employee selection process that is repeatable, scalable, and teachable. 15dots removes the “gut instinct” associated with employee selection. Consequently, hiring decisions are based on data alone. “No more guessing” is the company’s tagline. 15dots puts the right people in the right places. When employers match people with jobs, good things happen. Not only does production increase, but  employee engagement and job satisfaction increase.

Ready to stop guessing? Contact Joe Nowlin, or (812) 332-1102 to learn how to revolutionize your employee selection process. And don’t miss the upcoming 15dots Virtual Structured Board Interview Training, Jan. 17-21. Throughout the year, 15dots will be conducting these programs. 

Contact Sarah Robertson, to register.  

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