Personality Doesn’t Mean Nuthin’. Don’t Bother Assessing Pre-Hire.

I’d like to think I have a great personality.  Shocking to me and I know to you, some others just don’t think so.  The nerve….

I am a believer that personality does stand for something in the work world.  Naturally, personality does have a bigger role to play in some jobs than others.  In HR there is usually is a place for it; data analytics not so much.

But why do we need to assess personality pre-hire? If you really think about it, do you think that personality is any sort of indicator of good job performance?  Results producing performance?  I say no. I have discussed with several others the benefits of pre-hire personality assessments and most think they are just another data point usually not worthy of the trouble.

The reality is that nothing….NOTHING is as good an indicator as an interview.  Presuming you have an excellent interviewer everything you need to know can be gathered in an interview.  Yes, your interview will have to be fairly long.  Yes, your candidate may have to answer 10 follow-up questions to prove they are speaking truthfully.  But if we look at candidate time, I would rather the candidate spend that extra hour with interviewers than taking an assessment.  

Personality assessment stink pre-hire because:

  • Personality has nothing to do with job proficiency. One of my mentors and former bosses (who knows a thing or two about assessments), Fran Bostick, told me conflict resolution doesn’t come naturally in her personality.  However, after 30 years HR experience, she is damn good at this skill.  
  • They cost money.  You don’t need to spend money to determine personality.
  • You can assess personality in an interview.  I mean, aren’t you talking to the person yourself.  Isn’t personality somewhat evident and self-explanatory?
  • On the flip side of that, someone may be having a bad day.  So, an assessment is just a snapshot of how that person is feeling that one day. Tiers of interviews over multiple days are a better indicator of consistent personality traits.  
  • Some personality assessments can be manipulated.  A devious candidate can likely look at a job description and know what to answer on the Myers-Briggs. 

 When are personality assessments good?

  • Post Hire
  • To identify how a team members personality works into the team dynamic
  • To teach a team how to communicate with certain personality types

If you want to assess something pre-hire, judgment seems to be more compelling.  I just learned about the Judgment Index some Co’s use to assess, well, judgment. Pal and CHRO of Children’s Hospital in Birmingham AL , Doug Dean (@DeanEagle5) uses this test and since they are a nationally ranked hospital, they are doing something right. Disclaimer, I have not personally used this test.  But I’m intrigued.

Note to recruiters who decide to skip the assessment and stick to good ol’ fashioned interviews to determine fit (including personality).  Check yourself regularly to make sure you are not only hiring people whose personality you love.  Be a pro. Be aware of your biases.  Rise above them.  Don’t be the cliché.

Skills test make sense pre-hire.  Work demonstrations make sense pre-hire.  Assessing personality pre-hire although important, is simply judging a book by its cover.

Published by

Dawn Hrdlica-Burke

VP People & Culture/ Talent Consulting at Kinetix. Advisor. Speaker. Writer.

5 thoughts on “Personality Doesn’t Mean Nuthin’. Don’t Bother Assessing Pre-Hire.

  1. Aww man! I love a good per-hire assessment. I don’t think they are the be all end all or should trump the interview, but I think they have merit and can give you insight you would never get from the interview alone. At my previous company, we did the assessment before the 2nd or final interview (depending on the job). The assessment gave us probing questions to ask the candidate based on their responses to the assessment questions. It was right every time and it helped us make better hires based on “will do” over “can do.” I wouldn’t recommend using them to screen out early on, but when it’s down to 2 -4 people, then a good assessment helps.

  2. I’m not a complete hater girl. I agree if they are a “part” of the process…just a part…they can’t hurt. But a lot of them either a) aren’t worth the money spent or b) not interpreted correctly by the manager. In my experience I’ve typically never seen a manager look at an assessment and decide not to hire based on what they have seen. Again, I’m talking about a personality assessment.

  3. It seems like hiring managers ask this about once every 3 months. The problem with any of the personlality assessments is that they are not a test, just a tool. They only help to learn more about a candidate. As Dawn mentioned in her post, I have found them to be helpful when teaching teams how to better communicate.

    Finally, a good I/O pyshchologist is the best person to involve on anything related to doing assessments…Ben

  4. @riverbendmedia — thank you for the comments. You are so right about it being one piece of the puzzle. Truth be told, I have rarely if ever seen a manager disqualify someone for what they see in an assessment. So again I ask, why even bother assessing.

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