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Personality Assessments

Personality assessments in recruitment: how to use them correctly?

eye 240 Published on 13 Feb. 2024
tag #Recruitment tools

Victor was not hired because he is too introverted. This single sentence contains three errors. Can you identify them?
To provide context, Victor took a personality assessment for a communication officer position. The recruiter is looking for someone sociable and with certain leadership qualities to join the team on collaborative projects. Based on the results, the recruiter deemed Victor not to have the desired profile to perform in the role.

While personality assessments have become indispensable allies in recruitment processes, their use is sometimes questionable and can be detrimental, both for the candidate and the recruiter.

Let's return to Victor’s case and look at the reasons for this non-compliant recruitment.

Mistake #1: Dismissing a Candidate Based on Personality

Dismissing a candidate based on personality raises ethical and legal concerns in recruitment. Personality assessment results should never be the sole selection criterion.

Furthermore, while a personality assessment offers an interesting insight into a candidate's potential, it only predicts their future performance to 15% to 30%. It is, therefore, advantageous to integrate these assessments into a multi-criteria approach, as combining them with other tools can significantly strengthen this predictability. For example, when paired with a reasoning assessment, predictability can reach 50%. And by adding practical scenarios, it can increase up to 54%. The combination of several evaluation methods thus offers a more robust perspective on a candidate's compatibility with a given position, enhancing the chances of making a reliable decision.

Mistake #2: Not Taking Context into Account

A personality assessment's results should be contextualised to reveal their full value.

If personality traits are defined as stable, how they manifest varies depending on the environment. Does the report attribute an introverted side to Victor? If, then, beyond this apparent reserve and tempered calm, how will this introversion express itself in his future team? The recruiter must be able to question Victor about the role he tends to adopt in a group, the team atmosphere he finds ideal for performance, the type of team he prefers to work with, what he likes about teamwork, or whether he is more productive cooperating or distributing tasks. All these questions would have linked this introversion directly to the expectations of the position, concretely illustrating his functioning in a given team and a specific culture. This contextualised information is what allows for informed decisions.

Mistake #3: Considering Each Factor Independently

Combining personality traits is essential to nuance the results and get a complete view of the candidate. A single personality trait cannot determine a person's behaviour.

Combined interpretation gives flavour to a person's profile and avoids prejudices, such as that introverts have difficulty working in a team. We know Victor is introverted. But what more do we know about his introverted tendency?

The position mentions that much of the work is done in a team. By combining the traits "introversion" and "group sense," we might see that Victor enjoys exchanges in small committees and tends to develop deep relationships with his teammates. We could even add "altruism" to appreciate Victor's available and attentive nature. Does the position assign responsibilities? By combining the traits "introversion" and "will to lead," we would see that Victor, seemingly serious and thoughtful at first, inspires trust in his way of taking on responsibilities and proves to be a good advisor.

In addition to completing the personality assessment with complementary tools giving life to the results through a combined and contextualised analysis, it remains essential to have well-trained and experienced recruiters in interpreting tests. Making sense of scores, grasping their nuances, and placing them in relation to recruitment needs is essential to understanding how individuals adapt and interact in specific situations, leading to more reliable and beneficial decisions for both the candidate and the employer.

Helen Simard

Consultant psychologist (career guidance and psychometrics)

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