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Pre-employment personality tests branded “useless”

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HC Online | 25 Mar 2015, 07:33 AM Agree 0
One prominent HR leader says managers who use “useless” personality tests are simply shirking responsibility.
  • Liz | 25 Mar 2015, 12:32 PM Agree 0
    I think there is a place for personality tests in that they can be useful in identifying potential issues that can be further explored during second/final interviews. Such as a comment made in a test along the lines of the candidate isn't a team player, the interviewer could then delve and explore into how the candidate has successfully worked in teams in the following interview. I agree they should not be used as a hiring decision however they can certainly be a useful tool in the whole recruitment process and used effectively they do encourage more deep thinking not less. They should never be used as an excuse for a poor recruitment decision or to abdicate responsibility for hiring decision.
  • Kim | 25 Mar 2015, 12:43 PM Agree 0
    It is great to see acknowledgement of the poor validity of these type of test for recruitment. All research shows that personality is not a valid indicator of performance. The uptake of this type of testing (as opposed to testing for the skills required) is directly related to the income they generate for management consultancies.
  • Jason | 25 Mar 2015, 03:28 PM Agree 0
    Personality tests are just that...they are not intended to be an indicator of future performance and any good hiring manager knows that. This is a non opinion and a sweeping statement from one person.
    Personality tests will provide useful information on 'team fit' and how an individual may deal with certain situations (e.g. change) and can help ensure that the individual is supported and is successful once in role.
  • Chris Blackman | 25 Mar 2015, 03:34 PM Agree 0
    This falls under the category of "ask a stupid question". If you're running silly tests on everyone simply because it's policy to do so, you'll fall victim to the garbage-in, garbage-out syndrome. You might as well ask candidates their favourite colour. However, if you invest in a decent standardised tool that measures attributes proven to make a difference in the relevant job-role, you will be conducting a meaningful test of the candidate, capable being used in a comparative analysis. The tool should be designed not just to present a benchmarked score, but also, in the hands of a qualified practitioner, tell you what else to ask the candidate to help you gain a true understanding of their suitability for the role you are trying to fill.
  • Adam Leonard | 25 Mar 2015, 03:59 PM Agree 0
    A controversial article to start a debate! OK then! The tools and their validity are not the problem. The misuse of them is. To that extent I agree with Bob Corlett, but I don't agree that the tools inevitably abrogate thinking.
    The predictive validity of the best tools is quite strong. Used properly, to measure what they were designed to measure, they can validly inform a manager's thinking. One of the biggest problems is using tools for purposes they weren’t designed for. If a tool was designed to measure emotional intelligence, it shouldn’t be used to assess or infer competency. That’s like using a slide rule to hammer a nail – it wasn’t designed for the purpose and it won’t get a great result.
    We find the tools we use are helpful in predicting competency potential, and, on the flip side, predicting if someone may not succeed – we know this from the times we ignored the reports, then found candidates failing at the very points that were indicated - either as potential weaknesses, or overplayed strengths that did not have balancing competencies. In that sense, we owe it to the candidate to get the richest information we can, and aside from an extended work trial, which is usually the best predictor of success, psychometrics can be a very useful part of the decision.
    My advice is; first understand your needs and what you’re looking for, select the right tool to measure what you're looking for, learn the tool well, then apply it to its purpose. It will increase your success and reduce mistakes.
  • Paul | 25 Mar 2015, 04:06 PM Agree 0
    Agree with all and yes Kim you are correct. These sorts tests line the pockets of those consultancy businesses promoting them.

    Inexperienced recruiters and non HR people are very easily sold – and the sellers of these instruments know it! The belief of having some sort of extra cognitive power over newly hired employees is also attractive to those personalities who seek to lead in this “ethically questionable” way.

    A very experienced HR person can accurately determine candidate fit at a very fast speed. After recruiting over 1000 people one just gets to learn a few things. I believe the term coined for this is “intuition”. Something that science may not yet be able to quantify hence – personality tests.
  • Jocelyn | 26 Mar 2015, 02:08 PM Agree 0
    There seems to be some critical thinking errors being made in relation to the validity of personality tests. If the hypothesis is: that personality data improves the fit of candidates in a recruitment processes, then four sets of data are needed.

    Generally people seem to notice after the fact that some particular assessment appears to correlate with later observations. What about all the missed data such as situations where the assessment has not correlated with later observations? Or situations where no personality test is administered but the right fit is achieved? Or lastly, situations where no personality test is administered and the incorrect fit is later found?

    Anecdote is no substitute for good data and confirmation bias needs to be controlled in any assessment.
  • HRish | 27 Mar 2015, 04:27 PM Agree 0
    I remember when I was around 16 or so I applied for a retail job that required an "honesty test". It was multiple choice answers to different scenarios(what would you do).
    I was the type of person who was afraid to be late to school or take a sickie but somehow I had not passed an "honesty" test.
    A friend of mine who was similar(was also the daughter of a police officer and had healthy respect/fear of authority) had the same result.
    Shortly after, a known pothead and his drug dealer friend got a job there so it appears the test failed miserably.
    This is just an isolated personal experience but these type of tests need to be better fitted for roles if there's any test at all.
  • Paul | 30 Mar 2015, 11:48 AM Agree 0
    Thats not isolated HRish - Its a common outcome.
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