Outgoing Personality Seeks Similar

I’ve blogged before about how businesses should view recruitment as an investment decision, and spend the time ensuring – as much as they can – that they appoint the best candidate.

Interviews, as has been commonly recognised, are a pretty poor way of predicting future job performance, but are still an essential part of the recruitment process since (despite social media) we need to be sure that we can build a relationship on a personal level.

Larger businesses often use personality tests or inventories as part of their recruitment and increasingly these are targeted at smaller businesses too. But when, how and – in a market filled with initials like DISC, MBTI, 16PFand OPQ – which should you choose?

Personality questionnaires (they aren’t really tests, since there is no right/wrong or pass/fail) should give you an insight into aspects of an individual’s personality, which should give you an indication of how they will respond in a particular situation. This can be important in assessing how a prospective employee may “fit” in a particular environment or with colleagues. They aren’t infallible, nor are they a substitute for interviews or other selection methods. But used properly, they can be a very good way of gaining more information about a candidate.

So which one should you use? Here are some pointers to help you decide:

  • How many questions does it use to determine results? Fewer than 100 (yes, 100 – one well known one uses 256) and you are substantially increasing the risk of unreliability or a candidate manipulating their profile. The DISC based profile tools seem to be particularly prone to this (I’ve seen one version that only used 25 questions)
  • What psychological theory does it use? This might sound a bit arcane, but some tests are based on personality models which are now seen as outdated and/or incorrect. The well-known and often used Myers-Briggs or MBTI questionnaires have recently received a lot of criticism about this
  • Does it contain a “lie” scale within the tests? This is a set of questions within the test designed to find out if a candidate is trying to ‘fake’ their profile to give what they think you want (psychologists and test designers refer to this as the “social desirability” scale).
  • How much does it cost? You get what you pay for. Proper tests, which have been statistically validated and revalidated, are expensive. A free “personality profile” downloaded from the internet will be worth exactly what you paid for it.

Having read this you may decide that it all sounds too much hassle to be bothered with. But personality questionnaires are just like any other aspect of recruitment (or indeed business as a whole) – if you want good results, do it properly.