Do you worry about using personality measures when recruiting? A lot of people do. They’re concerned about whether it’s ethical to seemingly judge someone based on their personality – inherent characteristics that they can do nothing about – instead of evaluating them on their skills and experience.
But, used in the right way, personality measures are nothing to be afraid of.
In fact they are a really effective way of getting to that elusive thing – what makes people tick – that standard interview questions about skills and experience just can’t reach.
1. Measuring what people will bring to the role
The key thing to understand about personality measures is that you’re not looking for a particular personality, an ideal against which candidates are judged. You’re not trying to fit people into boxes of personality types either.
Instead you’re assessing what people will bring to a role and to your organisation. Their strengths and development areas, their preferences and their take on things. Meaning that you can then judge what the benefits and risks are of hiring this person. And you can compare candidates to see which would be the best fit in your team, department and business.
For instance, you might have a candidate whose personality test shows they are collaborative. They might be, therefore, a useful addition to a team which is full of very task-focused individuals who don’t tend to work well together.
2. Providing valuable insight to interviews
Personality measures are best used alongside other recruitment activities, like face-to-face interviews. They are not a replacement for a discussion about skills and experience.
Instead they can add a rich layer of insight to that conversation to help you really get under the skin of your candidates.
For instance, one candidate I met recently explained that her engagement with members of the public (i.e. her collaborative nature) had delayed the delivery of a project but that this had been appropriate because of how it had enriched the final outcome.
3. Exploring people’s preferences and how they adapt
Personality measures are useful for identifying people’s preferences in terms of behaviour. But that doesn’t mean these are set in stone.
People can learn to adapt their approach according to what’s required of them.
For instance, I spoke to a candidate recently whose preference was introversion. But he knew that his job required him to engage with others. He therefore took deliberate steps to ensure that this happened regularly by scheduling team meetings and one-to-ones.
4. Exploring a candidate’s potential
Often when we recruit our decision is defined by the past. When we say to a candidate – “tell me about a time when” we’re asking them to talk about what they’ve done in the past.
But it’s difficult to find out what they could do in the future. If they haven’t had the chance to prove themselves in a more senior role, how will you know whether they’ve got leadership potential?
Personality measures enable you to explore someone’s potential. They can indicate whether someone has the capability for forward-thinking, innovation, thinking conceptually etc that they might have not had the opportunity yet to put into practice.
5. It’s hard to fake your answers
Ever had the wool pulled over your eyes by a candidate? They said all the right things in an interview but then turned out to be all wrong for your business?
Personality tests are much harder to fake. Many will even evaluate whether a candidate has tried to give the ‘right’ answers rather than the truth.
These measures will point out the risks of hiring candidates that you can explore in more detail with them in the interview. So that you can have more confidence that you’ve made the right decision.
One word of caution about using personality measures:
These measures explore complex personality traits and characteristics. This means that it’s not always easy to interpret the results or to work through their implications with candidates. It’s best therefore to involve someone who’s an expert in using them.
But in the right hands, these measures provide a really effective way to get an objective and detailed insight into your candidates.