Did you hire the right person?

How can you know whether the candidates you are considering will be a good fit with your company or organization or not?

Knowing what to look for in a candidate is tricky business. You need someone who has the knowledge and background to do the job, someone who is hard working, and you also want someone who will “fit in” to your company’s culture.  Basically we are all looking for someone with the “right” personality.

But what is personality?  How do we judge it and how can we know if any particular candidate has the “right” sort of personality?

Well, it turns out we humans are by and large, lousy judges of personality.  To help us be more objective we turn to personality assessments.

Workplace personality assessments are big business, like $500 million a year. Josh Bersin, principal of consulting firm Bersin by Deloitte, a unit of auditor Deloitte LLP estimates that 60% to 70% of all US workers have been subjected to a personality test in the workplace (see: http://www.wsj.com/articles/are-workplace-personality-tests-fair-1412044257)

The question hiring professionals need to ask is: do these assessments even tell us anything useful?  The answer is no. They don’t. Mostly because people don’t know what personality traits correspond to good work behavior. The problem of misused personality tests has gotten so bad that lawsuits have been filed against companies who are misusing personality assessments and the EEOC is looking into allegations that personality tests discriminate against people with disabilities.

 The other reason to consider how and whether to use personality assessments has to do with the fact that many of the most common tests have no science to back them up.

Yes, you heard me, most of the common personality tests (*cough* Myers Briggs *cough*) are not based on science. In fact, they don’t even use the same personality traits that are standard in the scientific community.  (see:  http://psychcentral.com/lib/types-of-psychological-testing/0005924/2 for a list of the types of tests that actual psychologists use when assessing personality).

So, what is a conscientious employer to do when faced with the need to determine if a candidate is good worker or not. Well, step one is to educate yourself. Find out what personality traits you should be looking for and how you might actually assess for that so that you can stop misusing personality assessments in the workplace.

What I can tell you is that according to Dr. Brittany Shoots-Reinhard a social psychologist with a focus on attitudes, persuasion, judgment and decision making, and personality: one of the best personality predictors of workplace success is actually rather simple: conscientiousness.  All things being equal, people who are conscientious are going to make a good faith effort to get their work done regardless of the conditions they find themselves in.

To learn more about how to stop misusing personality assessments so that you can be effective AND ethical – check out Brittany’s e-course at Humanist Learning Systems. https://humanistlearning.com/personalityassessments/

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