A recent best seller talks about Why Being Your Whole Self—Not Just Your “Good” Self—Drives Success and Fulfillment and tells us about how negative emotions make people focus better and do things exactly right. This research brings the very efficacy of personality testing into question.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), roughly 18% of companies currently use personality tests in the hiring process. For the Fortune 500, that number swells to 80%. Personality testing refers to the process of measuring a candidate’s relevant strengths and weaknesses. The objective is to assess employment suitability, including company-candidate fit by evaluating the candidate’s cognitive abilities and behavioral style. Companies view psychological testing as another tool for understanding what the candidate has to offer and how they will fit into a company’s work culture. They indicate areas of focus for interview sessions, and hopefully predict whether the candidate will work well in a team environment.
When used effectively, personality testing can improve a candidate’s impression of a prospective employer. Applicants are attracted to modern recruitment and selection processes that are based on objective approaches to assessing their capability.
Detractors of personality testing point to the time and cost associated with administering the testing, potential for violating the candidate’s privacy rights or unintentionally discriminating, and erroneous results that can be generated by an administrator not properly trained in assessing the results.
Much has been written and debated about the reliability of these tests as an indicator of future success when hiring permanent employees or assessing an employee’s potential for advancement. That is not the focus of this blog. We are exploring the implications of using personality testing when engaging contingent workers. For the purposes of this blog, we use a broad definition of personality testing to also include behavioral testing.
Personality tests add value when they are directly tied to established performance metrics. In simplest terms, you must know what work styles and attributes you are looking for and how you would measure their existence in order to select a test that will actually evaluate those characteristics. Many companies require staffing agencies to conduct personality tests as part of the onboarding process of selected candidates. However, they often fail to specify the desired performance metrics and rarely acknowledge that the traits needed in a permanent employee differ from those desired in a temporary worker. Empathy, conscientiousness, honesty, enthusiasm, motivation are all things any worker must have, but what about ambition, desire for advancement, and sources of motivation? These attributes are reflected differently in a contingent worker.
General guidelines to follow:
Personality testing is merely one tool available to aid in selecting the best worker for a job. While they provide insight into a candidate’s motives, values, and work styles, a fuller picture is needed. When combined with other screening techniques such as interviews and references, a more accurate picture of the candidate emerges.
Mail (will not be published) (required)
7 + = fifteen
Thanks for Subscribing to DCR Blog.