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Personality Assessments

Personality tests: unravelling the true from the false

eye 8756 Published on 18 May. 2020
tag #Cognitive bias

The coronavirus epidemic has sparked a flood of disinformation on the web. It made us even more aware of how much fake news travel faster than the truth. And the danger is concrete: it has established a climate of mistrust towards reliable sources of information, such as public health experts. Likewise, disinformation can sometimes weigh heavily on decisions made in human resources.

Habit does not make the monk

We tend to quickly judge a situation or a person by the first impression, whether good or bad.

This "halo effect" is well known by some recruiters who tend to assess a candidate's personality based on their physique. For example, it has been shown that people with attractive looks are given multiple qualities.

This cognitive bias therefore leads us to rely on criteria that have nothing to do with the candidate's personality or his skills for the job.

Personality is a set of relatively stable traits over time that influence how we perceive the world, act in different contexts, and therefore be more or less efficient. Personality tests allow you to look beyond the CV or the good presentation of a candidate and can therefore be a good predictor of job performance. Their use in addition to a structured job interview reduces selection errors by facilitating decision-making, in a non-discriminatory way.

And, as we are unconsciously attracted by all that is beautiful, dazzling and promises wonders, beware of marketing trends: not all personality tests have the same merits! Today, a marketing speech and a certain inventiveness can convince more than scientific validity and expertise.

Faced with these trends, how to avoid choosing the wrong tests?

Trust but verify

A good dose of side perception and critical thinking are necessary to choose a reliable and quality assessment tool. You wouldn't buy a car just after seeing the ad and reading the flyer right? The same goes for choosing a personality questionnaire.

First, a personality assessment must demonstrate scientific reliability and validity.

In other words, he must scientifically measure what he is supposed to measure, for example, personality traits relevant to the current professional environment. Its reliability ensures similar results overtime  after having administered it repeatedly.

The validation process is long and the publisher must provide proof in the test manual.
Verification of the metric qualities of the tool can also be entrusted to competent bodies which reference the subject at an international level, such as the BPS (British Psychological Society).

Before choosing, here is a quick checklist to avoid getting it wrong.

1. If the test is certified, you can go there with eyes closed. 2. If the manual is available, it is proof that the publisher is transparent because it will not take the risk of proposing a manual if the test is not valid. Conversely, publishers who do not make the manual accessible do not allow the validity of their tests to be verified. 3. If the tests are not certified but several manuals are available, call on a consultant psychologist to compare them and select the most valid.

Second, a good test should also allow better control of the social desirability effect, which is a candidate's tendency to show themselves in a favourable  light.

While this is not a conditional criterion for the validity of a test, it is nevertheless essential in recruitment. A test can be valid but easy to outsmart, which loses its interest.

Also, take the test yourself and make sure that the personality assessment takes into account your needs, company culture, behaviours and the expected level of performance. So defining your needs well in advance is an essential step to obtain optimal results.

You must also take into account the candidate experience so the report must allow a positive appropriation of the results by the candidate. The latter should not feel judged; if possible, a debriefing done by you or a consultant will help him better understand the connection with the targeted position.

Of course, personality tests alone are not enough to reveal the potential of a candidate. So, consider multiplying the sources and the tools, investing in solutions that can generate a matching with skills and values, thus allowing you to reveal the hidden part of the iceberg!

Because despite your instincts and your expertise, a reliable personality test is an undeniable asset for your decision-making. As Cocteau said: "Science only serves to verify the discoveries of instinct."


Discover Professional Profile 2, the personality test certified by BPS.

Lucia Mititel

Communications & Digital Marketing Manager

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