Friday, September 5, 2008

Personality Tests: What do they really do?

Yesterday morning I had a very good interview with a Vice President of Sales candidate. My interviewee was intelligent, highly motivated and a problem solver. I picked this up through the interview. I have a couple of potential clients that might be interested in talking to her in the next month or so. As I do with all candidates that are sent along to my clients, I will be doing references when a suitable position comes up. From the reference process, I glean some more details about a candidate's expertise and personality. During the course of my interactions with job seekers I can get a good snapshot of their strengths and weaknesses, and figure out what motivates them.

Several candidates I've worked with have presented me with personality profiles that they have had performed on them during the interview process. Often they bring them to me to explain their strengths. Sometimes they ask me if I want them to complete a personality profile. It's been something that I've debated over the years.

Several years back I was part of the "re-engineering" team at my old employer. During that time I had to do a personality profile. Also, as one of the founding members of the local chapter of the NACCB we had a vendor of personality profiles do a complimentary profile of us. Personally, I love doing these tests. They always show me as high achieving, entreprenurial and action oriented. Wow--now I know!

But I don't give much credence to personality tests. I guess some people think they are the silver bullet, and will make placements so easy. To me they are somewhat ambiguous and can be gamed by the test taker. A good friend of mine always tried to interpret what the test was analyzing, and would answer the way he felt would give him the best score. If a seriously horrendous candidate wanted to foil the test, the final result would give a false reflection of that person's personality.

I have to say I am a fan of the good, old-fashioned in-person interview. I think it shows a commitment on both the interviewer's part and that of the candidate to take the time to sit down and meet. Recruiters interview people constantly, and any recruiter worth her salt knows to trust her gut instinct on people. No personality test ever compares to my impression of a person, and that has been what has provided me with successful placements over the last 14 years.

So while you are in the interview process, know that personality tests may be used by employers. Go into them with an open mind. Most of the time they tell you what you already know. But they are by no means foolproof. They simply are one tool interviewers use to get to know a potential employee.

No comments: