The Dos and Don’ts of Personality Testing

Date: 30 July 2019

Most people reading this post will have had an experience with psychometric testing or personality profiling. For many people, that experience may not have been positive.

   

There are so many different variations of psychometric profiling or personality questionnaires out there and, used positively; they are a fantastic tool to understand what makes a person tick and how they will approach their work.

   

However, if they are used in the wrong way, it can be a hugely detrimental experience for the recipient.

   

One of the biggest misconceptions about personality profiling is that they are a test and people wrongly assume that there is some kind of pass or fail mark. However, this is way off the mark – personality profiles are self-reported behaviour, and it is impossible to ‘do well’ in them. The golden rule of using profiling is that they are a discussion tool, they don’t tell you if someone can do a job, they tell you how someone will do their job.

   

Here are some other pointers and top tips to keep in mind when using candidate testing and personality profiling.

   

DO

   

Advise why you are asking the candidate to take the personality profile and how you will use their responses - Some candidates are almost scared of psychometric tests and believe their personality might rule them out of a job. Reassure them that there is no pass or fail and you’re using the exercises to understand better their natural preferences and motivators.

   

Give feedback - People will be curious to know what shows up in their personality exercise. Any testing supplier should be able to provide guidance or training on how to deliver feedback on their material. This part of the process is crucial – get it wrong, and you could put the candidate off working with you again.

   

Position testing as added value - What really sets you apart from other recruiters? Having candidate testing or personality profiling in place is a plus for all parties. Your client wants to know you are using all the tools at your disposal to find the best candidates. Your candidates want to feel that you are taking their career and job seeking aspirations seriously. By taking the time to understand their skills and behaviour, they will have confidence in you, and you can truly find the best role for them.

   

Understand that people are capable of changing their behaviour - Just because someone shows up one way in a personality profile doesn’t mean that they are only capable of this behaviour. For example, someone who prefers stability and isn’t a fan of change won’t completely resist any changes or sink in a dynamic environment. Their natural preference is a stable environment, but a switched-on individual will recognise when change is appropriate and for the benefit of the business.

   

Check the validity of testing ensuring it is inclusive and bias-free - Any recruitment testing should be free from bias, i.e. they shouldn’t exclude or put any group at a disadvantage when they are taking the exercise. Tests and profiling should be a level playing field for candidates regardless of age, gender, background, ethnicity etc. If your supplier is setting benchmarks or norm groups, you are within your rights to ask what these are based on.

   

DON’T

   

Deliver feedback unless you are trained to do so - or have a checklist in hand with the ‘Do’ list above, I can’t emphasise this point enough. One of the worst things you can do is hand back a personality profile report and not explain the detail. Even worse, if you share details with a comment like, “you are below average with leading, so you don’t have what it takes to be the boss.” An offhand comment such as this can have a detrimental impact on your candidate.

   

Overload the candidate with tests - A few, well-chosen exercises are fine. You can perhaps mix a couple of skills tests like literacy and numeracy with a personality profile and get a good all-round view of your candidate. Overload people with too many tests and exercises and they will head straight to the next recruiter who has a smoother registration process.

   

Use any testing to replace human contact and screen out without feedback - Profiling and candidate testing is just another element in your toolkit when it comes to finding the best people. If you use testing to screen people out without feedback or any human contact, how do you think they will feel? Will it be a positive experience that they will rave about to their friends? No. Make it a positive experience for everyone involved.

   

Assume one size fits all - Every candidate has their nuances and people’s background, culture and approach to work are different. Testing and personality profiling must be valid for your audience. For example, if you are personality profiling a group of 16-18-year-old apprentices but the ‘norm groups’ they are benchmarked against are a majority of 18 year + working adults, then the results won’t be valid. The same goes if you are assessing nurses based in Europe for example, but the results are for adults working in the UK. Make sure your testing is appropriate and valid.

   

These are just a few tips for using personality profiling and psychometric testing. Keep these in mind and remember to use the tools to your advantage to find and place the best candidates and you won’t go far wrong.

   

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