One of the big problems I come across is that employers don’t know how to use personality tests in recruitment properly.

From time to time you read some bad press about personality tests and how someone who was perfect for the job wasn’t offered it because they failed the personality tests.  I remember an article in an Australian newspaper about a DJ who lost his position because he failed a personality test.

It’s understandable that people feel the need to blame something when they don’t get the appointment they feel they could do, or that they simply really needed. But a personality tool is like any other tool. It is neither inherently good or bad.

The problem is that few people know how to use recruitment personality tests properly. However it’s not just a problem with personality tests; there is a fundamental problem with recruitment.

What is required is a closer look at the psychology of recruitment.

Objectives of Recruitment

This is where is goes wrong for most people; they do not understand their objectives.

Let’s use an example.

  • Is your objective to find someone like the person who just left?
  • Is your objective to find the best sales person?
  • Is your objective to reduce your staff turnover?
  • Is your objective to increase sales?
  • Is your objective to reduce complaints and returns?

All of the above a legitimate objectives and yet most employers are never clear about what objective they are trying to meet.

Needless to say, that no matter what tests, or process you use in your recruitment, if your objectives aren’t clear then it’s unlikely you will enjoy a successful recruitment experience.

A Point of Principle

recruitment personality testsIt’s worth noting that at PeopleMaps we believe in a win:win scenario. We genuinely want to see candidates and employers winning. The problem arises when employers place adverts that attract the attention of hundreds of applicants. When there is only one position and a hundred applicants, then 99 people are going to be disappointed.

This is why we would prefer to see employers using headhunting techniques. It’s why in our career development course we do not encourage people to respond to job adverts but instead place themselves in a position to be headhunted.

The traditional approach to recruitment is not one we would recommend. Just because it’s what people have always done, doesn’t mean it’s the best way. There are better ways in an Internet age.

Know What You Are Looking For

Ultimately you are trying to put the right person in the right job. In order to use personality tests effectively in recruitment you need to know what you are looking for.

But are you clear about what you are offering? In what work environment are you going to place your new employee?

You see before you can even attempt to put the right person in the right job you need to understand the job you are offering. More importantly you need to understand the work environment you are offering. You need to be able to describe it in psychological terms much like you do with a candidate.

This is where all employers go wrong, as none of them can clearly describe the psychological profile of the work environment they are offering.

Work environment is created by a whole range of factors and it’s quite complex. This is why PeopleMaps has developed a unique tool called “The Work Environment Analyser”. It helps line managers define the work environment they are offering.

Common sense (and our understanding of Jungian psychology) tells us that some people are more suited to a given work environment, than others. Where some people thrive, others would struggle and be unhappy. Successful recruitment will see you place candidates in work environments that suit their nature. And of course you have the option to change the work environment – a lot easier than trying to change an employees personality.

Recruitment Personality Tests in Interviews

So how should you use recruitment personality tests in interviews?

Well the key thing to remember is that the personality report is there to help you and the candidate have a meaningful interview. It’s there to help you get to know each other quickly.

If used properly, recruitment personality tests will keep your conversation focused on the key areas. Use it to talk about the job and explore each aspect of the job and work environment with the candidate. If the environment is a poor fit for the candidate, then the candidate should come to that conclusion themselves during the interview.

For instance, lets say the job involved working for long periods in isolation from everyone else.

There are some candidates who relish the thought of being able to close the door to their office and be left alone to get on with their work without interruption. And of course there are others who would find this extremely stressful.

A personality report will indicate how the candidate is likely to cope with working for long periods in isolation. If their report indicates they will struggle with this, because they fundamentally get their energy from interacting with others, then you would certainly want to explore this. You could ask questions such as

  • How do you feel about working in an office on your own for weeks at a time?
  • Have you previously worked in this kind of environment?
  • What’s the longest you usually go without talking with colleagues?

Although this is something a candidate could deny, it is not likely they will be able to fake that they love it, when it’s apparent that they do not relish the thought.

Recruitment Personality Tests are not tests

Finally everyone needs to remember that although it is commonly referred to as a “test”, it is in fact an assessment. There are no right or wrong answers. There are no good or bad personalities.

It’s unfortunate that having one vacancy and 100 applicants is going to see 99 candidate’s disappointed but it should never be the case that a candidate didn’t get a job because they “failed” a personality test.

It helps two strangers get to know each other and provides a framework for conversation.


Further Reading

See how we made a Personality Test  that is easy to use.

This article has been about recruitment personality tests.


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