Stop! You Can’t Measure Personality – Not If You Want to Make Good Hires

Remember when you were a kid? Your idea of a perfect meal might’ve been chocolate bars and gummy bears. But as you grew older, so did your preferences. You might still like the occasional gummy bear, but your palette has evolved.

This is the same with personality in many cases. If you’re 50, are you the same as you were when you were 30? If you’re in your 20s, do you think you may have changed a bit since your teen years? Say you used to be a hot head. You had a temper back in high school. If you go back and talk to your old teachers, they’ll talk about what a troublemaker you were.

So, fast-forward a decade, two, or three. Are you still a hot head? Is there a chance, maybe, you’ve matured? Of course. Just because you were one way at a certain point in your life doesn’t mean you will always be that way. But what if that label clung to you and followed you everywhere?

That can happen when organizations give personality assessments. At 25, Employee A doesn’t seem to have the right personality for Job X. Does that mean they’re excluded from consideration for that role forever? It’s absurd.

A Sound Hiring Process

You can’t measure personality. But you can measure behaviors, competencies, and motivators – and you need to. Or instead, try this: next time you have a candidate for a job, don’t bother interviewing them. Just flip a coin.

Interviews are typically just about as accurate (though, to be fair, their accuracy rate is 57%, not 50%, so they’re a little better than a coin toss). Eighty to 90% of hiring decisions are based on superficial attributes: how the person looks, whether they talk a good game, where they went to school, which team they’re fans of.

That’s why, in addition to an interviewing process, you need:

Assessments: Use validated assessments that measure behaviors, competencies, motivators, and acumen. Assessments are part of the hiring process; they shouldn’t be used as the main reason you hire someone, or the main reason you do not hire someone. They’re part of your toolbox.

Benchmarks: Once you’ve benchmarked a role, and candidates have taken assessments, you can make unbiased, conscious hiring decisions. I can guarantee you’ll have a better shot at success than if you flipped that coin.

These tools also allow you to go back, in a year or in two, reassess employees and determine if they meet the requirements and fit the profile for new roles (that you have benchmarked!). One test result doesn’t define them – and it doesn’t inhibit your company from taking advantage of internal talent.
Measure personality all you want. Interview candidates and talk about your favorite college football team all you want. But if you want qualified candidates who will perform at a high level in the roles you put them in, you’re going to want to make some changes to your hiring process. The sooner the better.