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Unlocking the potential of personality assessments

Unlocking the potential of personality assessments
Personality assessments are becoming ever more common in pre-employment screening processes as employers seek to understand how well a candidate fits a role. When used correctly and in accordance with best practice, these tools can add great value by providing recruiters and hiring managers with telling insight into the preferences and work style of a candidate.  However, a poorly implemented personality assessment can cause confusion for all concerned and even result in a poor hiring decision.

So, how can you set yourself and your organization up to capture the greatest value from a personality profiling tool in recruitment situations?

1. Understand the job you are seeking to fill.
As most personality questionnaires typically measure a range of personality traits, it is important to identify those personality traits that are truly relevant to the job. Specifically, the test user needs to understand the job for which they are hiring in terms of core responsibilities, the competencies that are critical for successful performance, as well as the organizational culture, and work environment.  Based on this thorough understanding of the job requirements, the test user needs to identify which personality traits are relevant to success in the job. For instance, the relevance of extroversion and sociability depends on the nature of the interpersonal interactions in the job.

2. Select the right tool.
There is a plethora of personality tools in the marketplace, of varying types and quality. It is important to use a tool that has been developed in accordance with best practice and to a high technical standard. The test purchaser should focus on the documented reliability and validity of the instrument. Key questions when selecting a personality questionnaire include:
Can the test publisher provide robust, empirical evidence that the instrument measures what it purports to measure in a reliable and consistent fashion?
Is there evidence that the test results are predictive of future performance?  

3. Prepare the candidate for the assessment.
To ensure a positive candidate experience, the candidate should be briefed as to why they are being asked to complete the assessment, what will happen with the results, and whether they can expect feedback.

4. Validate the results of the assessment through discussion.
While personality inventories can provide insight into behavioral predispositions, they are not perfect predictors of performance. For instance, a person may report need to work closely with others. However, self-report personality results do not capture how effectively that person may interact with others.

Also, as with all self-report personality questionnaires, the results can be influenced by how accurate and honest the person has been with their responses and the level to which they have insight into their behavior. What the personality inventory can do is help the test users to develop hypotheses about a respondent’s work behavior in relevant work situations. Therefore, it is critically important for the employer to test and validate these hypotheses by sensitively probing the candidate with behaviorally-based questions during an interview. The result should be a robust understanding of how the candidate is likely to behave in relevant situations.

These interactive feedback discussions also have the additional benefit of creating a more positive, engaging candidate experience and help to ensure that the candidate feels that they have received something of value from the process.

5. Integrate the results with the other components of the selection process.
To ensure the best possible decisions are taken, the results from the feedback interview should be considered alongside other data and information gathered in the selection process such as work history, technical competence, or cognitive abilities.  This will enable the decision maker to make an informed decision based on a well-rounded and robust understanding of candidate’s suitability for a particular role.

By following these steps, you will be well positioned to garner valuable insights about your job candidates and capture the value of your personality questionnaire in your selection process.

Article author: Hannah Olsen, Cubiks USA

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