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Using Personality to Hire Smarter

Dan Sines

CEO at Traitify | Star Wars & Superhero Fan, Adventurer, aspiring Renaissance Man | Inventor/Visionary in Work

Once seen as a relic akin to punch-card computer matchmaking, up to three-fifths of workers are now asked to take workplace assessments, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

Workplace assessments have come a long way since their early origins, and if used the right way, these tests can serve as an important tool for hiring and team management.

About 22 percent of organizations use personality testing to evaluate job candidates, SHRM says, and some companies are seeing amazing results. Furstperson, a workplace testing company, recently studied 20 companies (a call center and 19 subcontractors) that use its test. Prior to adopting the test, 41 percent of employees didn't make it past their third month. After implementing the test, according to the WSJ, "90-day attrition fell to 34% in 2013; 28% in early 2014; and 12% late last year."

So it's clear that knowing a little something about job applicants can be a powerful tool. Here's how to best capture that knowledge.

First, recognize that most executives aren't great at hiring.

According to Inc. magazine, those "most confident" in their ability to assess who will be successful in a given role "actually tend to be the least good at it." A test provides perspective and offers fairness beyond a hiring manager's or executive's personal likes or dislikes — and as studies have shown, managers tend to gravitate toward candidates who are "like" them, partly because "it is easy to mistake rapport for skill."

Choose the right test.

Don't rely on an assessment that won't elicit the kind of information important to your company. An industrial psychologist put the following checklist together (we've abbreviated it; you can see the whole thing here).

a. What is the assessment designed to measure and accomplish, and how will that benefit the organization?

b. Does the assessment come with an accompanying job analysis tool that allows for the thorough identification of a job's requirements?

c. Is the assessment free of bias with respect to the respondent's age, gender, or ethnicity? (More on that below.)

d. Is the assessment reliable? That is, are people's scores on it consistent and repeatable over time?

e. Is the assessment valid? That is, does it effectively predict important workplace behaviors that drive metrics such as sales, customer satisfaction and turnover?

Use a test designed for your audience.

To use the punch-card analogy again, nobody wants to take a test that will require them to spend hours poking holes in an answer sheet. A test that is simple, visual, and doesn't take a lot of time is the most painless and effective.

Know what you're looking for. Hint: It's probably not what you think.

A lot of companies think they want to use a personality test to assess "fit" — but too often that means finding a new hire that is the same as all the old hires. The idea of personality testing isn't to create a monoculture of "samers" but to create diverse teams where everyone's weaknesses are balanced out by another person's strengths. "Building a strong team means not going the comfortable route where we hire and place people just like us," writes leadership consultant Bob Whipple.

Remember that tests are only one piece of hiring.

You should never eliminate someone (or hire someone) solely on the basis of a test, says recruiter Allison Tinkham. Other key factors — resume, references, and interview performance — are hugely important too.

Still, if using personality assessments can help to identify which perfect candidate for a job will be a perfect candidate for your organization's culture, and thus reduce turnover, it's too large of an opportunity to ignore.

To check out how Traitify's revolutionary personality assessment solution can help you build precisely the organization you want, just request a demo.

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