How to Choose A Personality Assessment for Selection

Well, how do you choose a personality assessment for selection purposes?  There are absolutely loads of them available and the number is increasing rapidly with computerisation of the industry.  And this leads me to my first observation.

Leadership People Image

How has your Personality Assessment been developed?

If you and I got together we could probably and fairly quickly write a number of questions, let’s say on leadership, and then develop our questionnaire.  We could then send this questionnaire out to loads of our friends and work colleagues and collect a range of bio-graphical data, such as job position, gender, age, ethnic background and so on.  Then we would analyse the data and say we have the most up to date and accurate prediction of Leadership on the market.  We might even call it ‘The Only Leadership Predictor’ or other similar sounding name.  We could get our graphic designers to develop easily interpreted charts and make it seem like the all dancing and singing personality assessment.

However, this approach is full of errors.  Particularly around the questions we select.  They may not even reflect the concept of ‘leadership’ at all.  So, we will have built a questionnaire on quicksand.  It will be unreliable and certainly not a valid measurement of ‘leadership’.

Therefore, in choosing a personality assessment for selection purposes the first question you should ask is; has it been developed by leading psychometric experts and scientists?

Personality Tests For Work - Person Completing Paper and Pencil Test

Has your Personality Assessment been independently approved?

My second observation is that I’m sure like most of us when we go to buy a washing machine or fridge freezer we will look at the models available, check the dimensions, look at the features, look at the price and then hopefully look for independent reviews of the product.  We might check out Reevoo or Which Magazine to get customer reviews or in Which’s reviews how the products perform under test conditions.

Similarly, you should look for independent reviews of personality assessments.  For the UK and Ireland, the British Psychological Society’s Psychological Testing Centre provide such a service.  The Buros Institute also provide a similar service worldwide.

I would like to pose this question to test publishers.  If their personality assessment is so good, why do they not submit it for independent review?

Photo of Male and Female Managers and Directors

Who can use the tool?

Who can use the tool is my third observation, and arises when I have been approached by ‘Test Publishers’ to use their personality assessment, packaged with ‘slick’ marketing and excellently written information.   When I ask what training is required I am assured that people from any background can be trained to use the product within a day!  Therefore, people are quite literally ‘let loose’ with products that have not been independently reviewed and with what seems scant regard for the person being assessed.  I wonder what psychological impact an individual might experience in such circumstances if the assessment is not what they were expecting.

You really do need to check if the person is qualified and maintains their competence in the use of personality assessments.  Again, for the UK and Ireland you can check the credentials of Registered Test Users, who have been rigorously assessed by the British Psychological Society.  To check if an individual is registered click Register of Qualifications in Test Use.

How to Choose a Personality Assessment for Selection

Does the Assessment Indicate you are a Colour, Letters, Etc?

Unfortunately, and all to regularly (my fourth observation) I come across organisations using personality assessments for selection that classify people into ‘Colours | Letters | Labels| Dogs | Boxes.  No need to mention the names here, but you know who these companies are!

This seems like a moan but honestly it isn’t.  Very recently I saw it advertised by a consultancy firm that the tool in question was ideal for selection purposes.  NO IT IS NOT!!!  Now in fairness the test publishers do say in their material that it should not be used for selection purposes.  BUT, why don’t they put it in capitals on their marketing materials were everyone can see it – THIS PRODUCT MUST NOT BE USED FOR SELECTION PURPOSES.

It reminds me of the inappropriate selling of financial products in the UK.  Here people were able to claim against the consequences of mis-selling.  It is likely that if you use these types of personality assessments you could be leaving yourself open to legal challenge in the Courts.

How to Choose A Personality Assessment for Selection

Select the Right People

Therefore, if you are the HR Director / Manager with responsibility for choosing personality assessments perhaps you might now consider asking the above questions?  If you do follow the above, you will definitely be well on the road to choosing personality assessments that will help you identify the right people for your business.

My fifth observation is that in providing personality assessments I have only been asked ONCE for the full technical background including details of Norm Groups and independent review of the assessment.  I work with many organisations of all sizes.  I only use personality assessments for selection that have been independently reviewed.

Perhaps you are just too busy and rely on the individual recommending the assessment profile or marketing material too much.  Now might be a good time for everyone who has responsibility for choosing personality assessments for selection to raise the standards and demand much clearer transparency on the tools (from the test publishers) they are going to use.

Get in Touch

Dominic McCanny is a Chartered Business Psychologist with 20+ years’ work experience in the areas of Executive Assessment | Personality Assessment | Psychometric Testing | Consultancy Support.  For a confidential consultation contact me by clicking on the link below:

Contact – Dominic McCanny

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