Personality Assessments

Personality Assessments

Just How Helpful Are They For Hiring?

Why personality should matter to any business

When it comes to recruiting talent, many factors come into play such as skills, experience, aptitude and so on. However, businesses don’t (and shouldn’t) hire a CV — they hire people. That’s why, here at Chemistry, we place more attention on personality than many companies may expect.

A candidate can learn skills and gain experience, but personality can’t really be trained in the same way. This is why businesses should seek employees with personalities that complement their company culture. Research from Robert Walters found that 90% of employers recognise the importance of finding candidates who are a good cultural fit, yet almost three quarters of professionals have left their roles because they disliked the company culture.

Clearly there are a lot of businesses getting something wrong here, and it could be that they aren’t assessing personality in a meaningful way. Considering a candidate’s dispositions and characteristics means that not only will a business attract people likely to thrive in its unique cultural context, but employees are also more likely to stick around, giving the business a far better chance of achieving its business goals.

The limits of personality tests for hiring

Most businesses try to get a sense of a candidate’s personality during the recruitment process, often during an interview. However, these rarely reflect an individual’s personality in all its complexity. They could be nervous and have a bad interview, for example. Therefore, personality tests can act as a more objective assessment when hiring.

That said, not all personality tests are equal. Perhaps the most famous of all is the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, taken by approximately 1.5 million people every year. Despite its popularity, it’s certainly flawed, as explained here by Laith Al-Shawaf, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado. He notes that it doesn’t predict outcomes in the real world and has poor reliability, among other issues.

Does this mean all personality tests for hiring are a waste of time? Absolutely not. Al-Shawaf actually points to a number of ‘predictively successful continuum-based models’ such as HEXACO and the Big 5, which do in fact predict life outcomes. However, personality isn’t the only thing that matters in successful recruitment. Yes, it’s important, but it won’t effectively predict how a candidate will perform for a given company if used in isolation. For effective hiring, organisations must treat personality as one part of the bigger picture.

What personality assessments show you (and what they don’t)

Personality tests are useful for hiring, as long as there is evidence showing that the particular assessment will predict job-relevant outcomes (such as the one we use here at Chemistry). Personality is a key part of our Five Box Model for matching talent to the context of an organisation. However, instead of looking at personality in isolation, we examine it in conjunction with other areas to get the clearest idea of how a candidate is likely to perform.
The Five Box Model

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Different personality tests have varying levels of effectiveness in terms of hiring. Provided that organisations select personality assessments that are specifically designed to predict job performance, these can help identify and/or measure:

- Dispositions
- Emotional stability
- Conscientiousness
- Soft skills
- Culture fit

Personality tests can reveal whether or not the candidate fits the position and the organisation in terms of more than just skills and capabilities.

These are details that usually reveal themselves throughout the first few months of employment. However, introducing a scientifically reliable personality test will provide these insights early on in the process, increasing the chances of new hires being successful.
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If personality assessments are the only thing being looked at, this ignores the bigger picture and helps feed misguided assumptions about how talent is defined.

Personality is one of five criteria that we look at in our uniquely science-led approach to assessing a candidate. Alongside personality, we look at:

- Intellect: speed and accuracy in taking in, processing and retaining information
- Motivations: what drives people in the workplace
- Behaviours: what people will do rather than what they can do
- Experience: previous performance

All these areas must be examined together in order to predict how an individual will fare in the context of a specific business. Personality assessments provide no information regarding these other factors, so relying on them exclusively means unsuitable candidates are more likely to be hired.

Make personality assessments work for your next hire

As noted by the Harvard Business Review, “personality constructs are not the most predictive measure available” and “are most effective when combined with other measures with higher predictive validity”. Therefore, to make personality tests work in your hiring process, they need to be aligned with assessments of other core criteria. Not only that, but all assessments must be tailored to your business specifically. After all, context is everything.

Most importantly, every hire should be analysed on their potential to help you reach your business goals. At Chemistry we call that understanding What Great Looks Like™. It’s the context you need to create an environment for your talent to thrive.

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