by Guest Blogger – Edward Weaver

Most businesses have learnt the hard way the full cost of getting hiring decisions wrong. Not only is there the time and expense in finding a replacement for the person who didn’t work out, but the opportunity cost of what the right person could have achieved in the role in the meantime. Add the impact a ‘bad egg’ can have on the morale of the broader team and the full gravity of selection decisions becomes apparent!

The obvious question: how can we get these decisions right?

Including personality testing as part of your selection process substantially boosts your likelihood of making the right call when selecting from a shortlist of applicants.

Empirical research has consistently shown that selection processes that include personality testing have higher predictive validity (meaning they are better predictors of on-the-job performance) than those that don’t. That personality factors influence job performance makes sense; the demands of different jobs suit certain personality types more than others.

Take a business development role for example. A person who is comfortable meeting new people, enthusiastic, and proactive in unearthing opportunities is going to be more successful in securing business than someone shy, hesitant, and who takes rejection to heart.

You also need accurate information around the applicant’s level of fit with your organisation’s aspired culture.

  • Do they value open and honest communication?
  • Are they basically team-oriented or more ‘out for themselves’?
  • Are they comfortable with change or wedded to the status quo?

If these qualities are important to your organisation, you need to be assessing them in your selection process. Personality testing offers one of the most direct ways to do this. Of course, using these tools the right way is critical to deriving their benefit. There are two ‘fundamentals’ to get right.

Choose the right measure
The personality measure you use must be valid, reliable and appropriate for selection purposes. If you can’t trust the results, running the test is pointless. Ask to know the psychometric properties of any test you use.

Ensure the results are accurately interpreted
Interpreting personality profiles and relating them to the job in question is not straightforward, so whoever interprets the results should be accredited in the tool and experienced in its use.

Are the results of personality testing the ‘be all and end all’ in making selection decisions? Absolutely not. This information must be corroborated with that gained from the interview stage, the applicant’s prior experience, and reference checking. One of the great strengths of personality testing is that potentially problematic behaviours are identified, thereby allowing for specific, targeted questions around these to be asked of referees.

Adding timed ability tests (verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and abstract reasoning measures would typically be administered) provides valuable information about the candidate’s raw intellectual abilities, and their inclusion further increases the predictive validity of the selection process.

Lastly, a reasonable concern is: can people ‘fudge’ their responses to personality tests? The answer is yes – but modern personality measures have in-built scales that measure the extent to which the individual has presented an overly favourable picture of themselves. This issue is another reason why the person interpreting the results needs to have a sound understanding of the test being used.