Personality Assessment Tests Lead to a Poor Candidate Experience, Try This Approach Instead

September 16, 2015

It’s all the rage these days for companies to screen candidates through assessments like DiSC, Predictive Index, Myers-Briggs and all similar Jung and Marston-based type indicators. Time magazine even published a cover story advocating their use for this purpose.

The problem is that using such personality assessments is deeply flawed and it provides a bad candidate experience (and the Time is filled with misguided and incorrect information). This is just the latest poor HR policy that has gone mainstream.

The reasons why personality assessments are a poor candidate screening method

Here’s a quick summary of why these tests should be used more carefully:

  • At best the tests are confirming indicators. They are not predictive. Anyone who knows statistics knows that correlation is not necessarily causal and these tests are not causal.
  • The tests reveal preferences, not competencies. Just because a person “aces” the flawed test, it doesn’t mean the person is competent. This is a false positive. More important, just because someone “fails” the assessment test, it doesn’t mean the person is incompetent. This is a false negative.
  • The best people have the ability to modify their preferred style to meet the needs of the situation. This critical factor is totally ignored in all of these “either-or” type questions.
  • They prevent companies from seeing the strongest talent. The best people won’t even consider taking one of these tests unless they understand the career potential of the job first.
  • These tests prevent diversity since they’re based on benchmarks of the current workforce. Different people from different backgrounds can achieve similar or superior results using different styles.
  • These tests put a lid on quality of hire since the implicit assumption is the company already knows what the “best” personality style is required.
  • There are simpler ways to get the same results.

The justification for using the tests is that they have too many people applying for jobs and this is the best way to screen out the unqualified. This is a false conclusion. There are many ways to accomplish the same task including the 2-Step approach.

Use the 2-Step approach instead

The 2-Step is a simple idea that overcomes all of the challenges noted above and I’m giving it away for free. I also asked one of the top labor attorneys in the U.S. for his opinion. He strongly advocates its use.

Here are just a few reasons why the 2-Step is far superior to any of the pre-interview assessment tests too many companies are now using:

  • It will attract stronger candidates to your job postings.
  • It will screen out the unqualified before they become official candidates.
  • It’s in full compliance with all state and federal labor law statutes.
  • It will reduce the pool of candidates applying for your open jobs to only those who are truly qualified and motivated to do the work.
  • You’ll build a pool of great followers for future jobs.

A breakdown of the basic 2-Step and how to use it

1. Prepare a creative and “minimalist” job posting that emphasizes what the person will learn, do and could become.

Here’s a guide on how to write these types of marketing-oriented job postings.

2. Eliminate 90% of the “must-haves” requirements and focus on the essential one or two.

Here’s a sample of how this needs to be written. (Note: There is no law requiring every qualification be posted!)

3. Describe these critical “must-haves” in terms of outcomes.

For example, “We need intense Ruby background to create the new user interface for an accelerated product launch.”

4. Version 1 of the 2-Step:

Don’t let unqualified people apply to your job postings. Start with a job posting that describes a big project or challenge and the role the person hired will play. Make this exciting and important. Instead of applying say that if the person is interested in being considered for this job, she/he needs to send in a two-paragraph write-up of some comparable accomplishment. (This is legal!)

5. Version 2 of the 2-Step:

Send an automatic email to those who apply to a job (either to everyone or a filtered subset) that states the first step in your hiring process is to prepare a short written description of a major accomplishment related to a critical job need. In the body of the outbound email describe a major project or challenge in the job and why the job is important. This is called job branding. Here’s a guide on how to prepare these types of emails and the 2-Step messaging.

6. Version 3 of the 2-Step:

Just send a compelling email to a pre-selected group of passive candidates you found on LinkedIn with the same type of request. If the job is compelling enough you’ll get a bunch of takers.

The quality of your CX (the candidate experience) is an essential aspect of hiring great people. However, when you start the CX with a silly and meaningless assessment test, whatever you do afterwards is of no importance. Done properly, the 2-Step is a great alternative that the people you actually want to hire will find exhilarating. That’s the first step of a great CX - setting the proper stage for what follows.

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