Personality Tests in the Hiring Process

The vast majority of Fortune 100 companies use personality tests to separate the candidacy wheat from the employee-to-be chaff. What do these tests do? Are they worth the time and resources? And more importantly, are they effective?

Kathy Brizeli, the Senior Director of Member Services and Client Success at McLean & Company, worked in psychometrics for 12 years at Caliper. Psychometrics is one of many tests used to measure how an applicant’s traits relate to job performance. As an evaluator, Kathy interpreted assessment results and relayed them back to the potential employers for the candidate being evaluated.

“What we found out were the candidate’s innate tendencies – strengths and weaknesses,” notes Brizeli. “I would recommend their use as an additional piece of information, but never the sole determinant of a hiring decision; they should only be a piece of the puzzle. Assessments don’t necessarily consider experience or skill development.”

Personality testing is in the news: Merve Emre’s The Personality Brokers is the just-released book on how the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was invented by a mother-daughter team in the early twentieth century. According to Emre, personality testing is now a two-billion-dollar industry.

The New Republic weighed in on the topic, saying that Myers-Briggs, taken by two million people each year “is used by universities, career coaching centers, federal government offices, several branches of the military, and 88 of the Fortune 100 companies.” CPP Inc. sells it for $49.95US. On the flip side, organizational psychologist Adam Grant wrote, “The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is better than a horoscope but less reliable than a heart monitor.”

Robyn Knezic, Delmanor’s Director of Human Resources uses the Wiley – Global Assessment Profile XT.

“We are able to see areas where a candidate excels, and where they may have challenges. Some of those areas are: verbal skills, verbal reasoning, numeric reasoning, energy level, assertiveness, sociability, manageability, attitude, decisiveness, accommodation, independence, and objective judgment,” notes Knezic. But this comes with a caveat: “I think it is important to keep in mind that the personality profile is only one piece of the process and should not be relied on solely when making a hiring decision.”

With fifteen years of testing experience, Maryann Romano, Vice President of Human Resources at Distinct Infrastructure Group, also worked with Caliper, which she says costs $600 per test. “If you are limiting it for one or two candidates, fine. If you’re filling ten candidates over six months, the costs can get significant, especially if things don’t work out for whatever reason.” She claims that personality testing has shone light on, “knowing the warts, deciding if you can live with them, how to manage them, and how they like to work.”

Meanwhile, Mardi Walker, VP of Human Resources for the Ottawa Senators shares similar experience with personality testing. “Personality testing,” she says, “has worked out well for store clerks and store associates.”

In addition to Caliper, Walker used Gallup’s StrengthsFinder Personality Test – what she refers to as “very intense”. “It tested arithmetic ability, a person’s honesty and integrity, and how likely they’d be to ‘help themselves to the merchandise’.”

Vered Lerner cautions if the test is not administered properly, or if the tested individual isn’t honest, “the results may be misread or misunderstood.” The CEO and Founder of Bizstance Services has been working in HR and management for over 20 years.

The employer, moreover, ought to understand that a test doesn’t reveal everything. “Not all roles require testing, and employees are complex individuals with emotions, and the ability to change and adapt, given the right conditions and support.”

– Dave Gordon

4 Qualities of a Successful Staffing Agency

Hiring can sometimes be a nightmare. You need someone to fill a position quickly, but you’re not sure where to look, or you don’t have time to take care of it on top of all the other things you have to do. There are lots of companies dedicated to servicing this issue, but weeding out the good ones from the bad can be almost as confusing as actually hiring for the job you’re looking for. This week, we’re here to help you make the distinction a little more painlessly. Here are four qualities of a successful staffing agency:

A Good Curated Network
A good recruiter knows that their strength only extends as far as their contact list will allow it to. Any respectable staffing agency will place the highest emphasis on making sure their candidate pool stays “free of leaves” and will screen their candidates extensively before adding them to their database. Bear in mind that a great network only stays “great” if it’s updated constantly. Look for companies that maintain a strong presence within the professional community and seemed to be as engaged now as they were 5-10 years ago. Otherwise, you may end up with a list of people who were fantastic prospects – a decade ago.

Regional Knowledge
Before you get too excited about the size of a company’s database, make sure that they actually have a strongly established network for the region you’re hiring in. If they claim to hire all across Canada, press them about the areas that they say they have the strongest presence in. If yours is one that they’re still “developing”, then it might be best to find another agency.

Industry Know-How
So the agency has a solid network in your area and a strong commitment to keeping it that way. Seems like a great time to jump on board with them, right? Well, not so fast. Before you decide whether a company is right for you, make sure that they’ve actually got experience hiring for the field and the type of position you need. A recruiting organization dedicated to helping young professionals might not be the best place to find new senior management; likewise, a staffing firm with a history of helping marketing/sales professionals probably isn’t going to have the right structure to help you find a new mobile app developer. Do some research on the companies you’re considering and observe whether they’ve hired successfully for the areas you need. Meet with them and ask them questions about the industry and see how comfortable they are with the subject matter.

They Communicate & Ask Questions
When sitting in a meeting with a representative from the agency, there should be plenty of questions being asked from both parties. If you’re the only one who seems curious, then that should be a big red flag. Hiring can be a complicated process, and every company has very different ideas about what the ideal employee will be. A good recruiting organization will maintain a constant dialogue with you to make sure that they know exactly what you’re looking for. This an on-going process, since new questions can come up on almost a daily basis. For example, if someone has a great personality and all the skills required but only has 4 years of experience instead of 5, should they be considered for the role? Regular follow-up is key in ensuring that stellar candidates don’t slip through the cracks in those kinds of situations.
Staffing is already hard enough without creating another headache by wrestling with ineffective recruitment agencies. Bad hiring can cost an organization thousands in a very short amount of time, so focus on finding the one with the right connections, location, knowledge and engagement before you fork over any of your hard earned cash.

 

L. Wang | DBPC Blog