October 5, 2009

Wonderlic Tests Area, Decides It Makes Grade

John P. McDermott  /  Post and Courier

Charleston seems to have successfully passed its own version of the Wonderlic Test, which is best known for being administered by NFL teams to evaluate the intelligence of their new players.

The 72-year-old Libertyville, Ill.-based firm that came up with the assessment method is spreading its wings and expanding to Daniel Island, its first business operation outside the Land of Lincoln.

Charles F. Wonderlic Jr., the CEO and grandson of the company's founder, recently moved to the area with his family after looking all over the country for the new office to grow sales.

He cited the assistance he received from the Charleston Digital Corridor technology initiative as one reason he picked the Lowcountry.

"Charleston quickly rose to the top based on three primary factors: availability of a highly capable talent pool, demonstrated leadership in supporting knowledge-based companies, and the region's outstanding livability," Wonderlic said.

"As part of our expansion criteria, the availability of capable talent is paramount. We validated Charleston's exceptional talent pool by running employment advertisements ahead of our decision, then using our online tools to assess the respondents."

While known for its football test, Wonderlic works with about 50,000 organizations to help them identify and recruit workers who best fit their needs through a "psychometric" assessment process.

Wonderlic said its client list include retailers, restaurants, manufacturing firms, franchisors, professional service firms, colleges and technical schools.

The local office will have a national focus, targeting owners of dental practices, law firms, restaurants and other small businesses who typically are too busy or ill-equipped to properly vet job seekers.

Wonderlic's specialty is to gather information from applicants on behalf of employers by asking a series of varied questions, then interpreting the online responses. Each job hunter's strengths and weaknesses in six categories are weighed and assigned a color so that the client can quickly gauge whether he or she might be a good fit.

Green is good; red is not so good.

Wonderlic said he hopes to grow the local branch to about 50 employees within a few years. He used the company's assessment process to identify his first hire in Charleston: Tom Dittrich, who is market manager.