Do Workplace Personality Tests Really Improve Quality of New Hires?

In 2014, CEB found 62% of HR professionals are using workplace personality tests to assess applicants. That’s a drastic increase compared to 2010, where that number was less than 50%. What’s the growing allure in implementing personality assessments in the workplace? Is it a fad?

Every recruiter has had at least one hire that looked absolutely perfect on paper but just didn’t fit the field. The resume only tells so much about a candidate, and even a face-to-face interview can house blind spots. Unfortunately, the loss of an employee, even an employee-in-training, is costly. While personality assessments alone can’t completely determine an applicant’s fit, they can add color to the attitude and culture of the potential hire.

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Culture is a Key

While not the key, understanding the attitude and fit of a hire is crucial to the success of their employment. When it came to negotiating an acquisition with another business, 46% of surveyed leaders admitted they would not agree to a deal with a misaligned organization.

If you’re under the (mistaken) impression culture doesn’t have just as much of an impact on employees as it does with acquisition, consider reassessing. Columbia University found the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with poor company culture is 48.4% while organizations with rich company culture are only 13.9%. And that’s just turnover. They also found culture positively affected employee productivity, satisfaction, and engagement.

Trust your Instinct: In many cases, you don’t need studies to know this. Many managers can simply look around at their team and know intrinsically that culture is important. It’s nice to have proof, though.

Personality Assessments and Job Descriptions

The definition of culture changes depending on the place or person you ask, but in general, a company’s culture is built up and around the mission, vision and value statements. These pieces should steer executive decisions and set the tone for the organization within the community and as an employer. As the company grows, like a game of telephone, sometimes these mission, vision, and value statements can get eroded.

For employees, culture can vary based on the department they work within or the job duties they carry out day after day. So, while a candidate may have the right skills, and even share the same values and goals, there is still potential for he or she to be a poor hire for the position.

This all probably sounds like a catch 22. The organization has a culture and chooses hires based on a combination of skills and fit and yet there’s still a misalignment, ultimately resulting in loss. That’s the contribution a personality assessment can make to hiring decisions.

The employer defines the type of individual who succeeds within the department or role then implements a workplace personality assessment to gauge fit of applicants on an individual basis. It’s very much like working backward, which is important to recruiting anyway. Before any job posting is made, the job description and qualifications should be clearly defined. Screening processes with personality assessments help ensure the role is no longer being filled by candidates with only the necessary skills; it’s being filled by people who have the skills and align with the working culture, established team and department needs.

Keep in Mind: Personality Assessments may just show you a culture that is dysfunctional, forcing managers to not only revamp their hiring and assessment process but to take a long, hard look at who is in leadership… and why.

Making Assessments More Dimensional

Of course, not all personality assessment is created equal, and the market has many different approaches. As with any technology, the company should understand what their organization needs and how that translates to features provided by each.

Any company considering implementing personality assessments should know experts believe these tests are far more accurate when they include input from more than the questionnaire that simply focuses on the usual personality factors (temperament, agreeableness, etc.) He suggested including cognitive ability or integrity tests to heighten predictive validity.

It’s for these reasons that Elevated Careers technology uses predictive algorithms based on a combination of 3 types of compatibility: skills, culture, and personality. These are collected from both the candidate’s resume and profile and the employer’s profile and job listing. The compatibility elements allow employers to match candidates to distinct culture factors then assess the skill fit of the resume and work history in addition to the interpersonal skills.

Don’t Forget: This Deep Dive into the Elevated Model shows why it’s so important to measure ALL these things, rather than closely model eHarmony’s dating algorithm. Take a look.

Soft Skills are Still Skills

We like to think that the only skills that matter in determining the right hire are those that indicate whether the candidate can do the work and do it right. If that were the case, a resume with work history and credentials would be all that’s necessary. That’s simply not the case. A study conducted by Stanford Research Institute International and Carnegie Mellon Foundation found 75% of long-term job success depends on people skills, while only 25% on technical knowledge.

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That doesn’t discredit the need for skills and it doesn’t mean that only the best public speakers will succeed. What it does mean is a company needs to have a clear picture of the type of person who is happy and productive within their workplace. Being proactive in understanding the culture of your organization will better pinpoint the type of person that complements it.

Workplace personality assessments aren’t one-size fits all. They cannot solve all hiring challenges and they won’t guarantee a successful hire every time. What they can provide is a clearer picture of the candidate who lies beyond the resume. They can shed light on the individual before an interview and give your hiring team clarity to make more informed hiring decisions.

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