Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Personality Tests as Hiring Tools

More and more companies are beginning to use personality tests in the hiring process. Personality tests go beyond traditional recruitment screens to examine a candidate's ability to fit with a team or corporate culture psychologically. If you are looking for a candidate with good administrative skills, who fits into a highly competitive team environment, personality screening may be the answer.

Companies are using psychometric assessments, personality profiling, and intelligence tests to hire staff, coach employees and create teams. When used well, the tests, which are relatively inexpensive - about $300 per candidate, including consultancy fees - can cut costs and improve performance.

First Harbor Group LLC, a Houston financial advisory firm uses DiSC, a behavioral model, as a stress management tool. DiSC helps people understand why they do what they do, by measuring the interaction of four behavioral factors: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. Using this information, DiSC can be used to describe a person's general approach, including his or her motivations, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and some of the basic assumptions the person makes about others. It can also predict how a person will react to a specific set of circumstances.

Another popular test being used is the Kolbe Test. Unlike IQ tests, which tell you what you can do, and personality tests, which tell you what you want to do, Kolbe tells you what you will or won't do by measuring natural instincts.

Studies show that personality tests are far more reliable predictors of performance than interviews and resumes, but they can be controversial. Using tests not specifically designed for hiring can lead to lawsuits. The US Court of Appeals in Chicago recently ruled that a personality test used to fill management positions at Rent-A-Center Inc., qualifies as a medical exam. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits requiring medical examinations prior to making a job offer. In addition, the court ruled that the test, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, was inappropriate for this purpose as it is used to diagnose mental illness.

Tests also should not have a disparate impact on a protected class of people, such as certain racial or ethnic groups. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's general rule is that protected classes must pass an assessment at a rate that is at least four-fifths the pass rate of unprotected classes. For example, if eight of 10 Caucasians pass a test compared with just five out of ten African-Americans, then employers can be sued under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination in employment in any business on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Please visit The Wall Journal for the full story.

1 comment:

Dan Schawbel said...

I could see personality tests being used as a way to match applicant with company culture.