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Are personality assessments effective hiring tools?

Sharon Florentine | Dec. 23, 2014
Businesses often use personality assessments to gauge a candidate's degree of cultural fit. We look at workplace personality tests really tells employers.

"Now, if your organization is big on empathy as a core value but a candidate doesn't score well on that part of the assessment, what does that mean? It's not necessarily going to impact their empirical performance, but that doesn't mean it's not critical," Povec says.

"Without that empathy, an applicant is not going to fit well into a team. They're not going to care about their colleagues, and they're not going to make a good contribution to morale, productivity and that's bad for business overall," Povec says.

Other traits that can be measured with tests like the Harrison Assessment are intellectual curiosity, self-regulation and ability to work independently and relationship management, all of which are critical soft skills, especially for leadership roles.

What Personality Assessments Can and Can't Do
General, psychometric personality assessments can reveal how an average individual will respond to generic questions taken without context, according to Demartini. Assessments like Myers-Briggs use questions like, "You tend to sympathize with other people," and only offer two potential answers: Yes or no.

Not only is human behavior rarely so binary, but such questions don't take into account that not all individuals display honesty and true self-reflection. The test also can't account for human beings' desire to pass the test, which could lead candidates to give the response they believe the hiring firm wants to hear, not necessarily the one that reflects their own belief.

"Many individuals do not always see or represent themselves the way they actually are. The test cannot tell employers exactly how an individual will react and respond to various work related matters, in context, in certain individual settings," Demartini says.

An accurate assessment depends upon an individual's hierarchy of values and the degree of congruency between those values and his or her attentions, intentions and actions, Demartini says.

Predictive Analytics for Human Capital
Identifying a candidate's values, priorities and ethics, and then gauging how those align with the values, priorities and ethics of a company are a much greater indicator of candidates' potential success or failure on the job, and that is where values-based assessments like Harrison are really worthwhile, says Povec.

"One of the major trends in industry today is using predictive analytics -- and to me, that's what Harrison allows HR, recruiters and hiring managers to do. If you look at the results from a Harrison Assessment, people are telling you what's important to them, what makes their work meaningful, what they love [and] where they excel. That translates to business knowing exactly how to motivate, encourage, incentivize and retain talent," Povec says.

Values-based assessments aren't just for pre-employment screening, Povec says. They are valuable resources for current employees to understand how to improve and for career growth and development.


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