Behavioral & Personality Assessments: The Oft-Misunderstood Piece in the Hiring Puzzle
By Mike Briles, PRC, D.Min
Account Executive, Schaffer Associates
Ask most any employer and they’ll tell you: a major talent gap is plaguing our industry and the greater economy today. It comes as no surprise, then, that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to find the right talent for most open positions. As a result, many techniques have been developed that can be deployed to help organizations hire the right individuals. One such technique, however, is NOT a behavioral or personality assessment! Let me explain. Here at Schaffer Associates, we view such assessments as a critical piece of the hiring puzzle. Unfortunately, we have found that this critical tool is often both misused and misunderstood by many employers who find themselves in the market for new talent. When applied and understood correctly, however, these unique processes can give companies a significant competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive hiring marketplace.
In narrowing in on the best talent for your organization, nothing can replace a comprehensive interview sequence and a thorough round of reference checks. Personality and behavioral assessments, however, can augment that process by identifying for the employer how a particular candidate will mesh with the team, how best to manage him or her, and how he or she will manage others. In this context, it’s important for hiring managers to understand that personality and behavioral assessments are generally not intended to disqualify any given candidate. Now, I say generally because, in certain egregious cases, a personality assessment may indeed disqualify a candidate. But, nine times out of ten, the utility of these assessments is found not in their qualifying or disqualifying capacity but in the degree of insightful information they provide to the employer on how a job applicant is “wired.”
Employers should start the personality or behavioral assessment process by understanding a very obvious truth that can often be a complicating factor for companies and their recruiting efforts: human personalities and behaviors vary from person to person. The differences between personalities and behaviors combined with a lack of understanding surrounding those differences can create barriers to productivity, chemistry, communication, and trust in the workplace. They can also affect how an employer interprets a candidate’s performance in an interview or how a job seeker views an interviewing company. Further, personalities are not represented on a résumé or a CV, nor are they always evident in first or second interviews. And as any employer will tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than hiring an individual who appears one way “on paper” but who brings a completely unexpected set of personality or behavioral traits, whether good or bad, to the table.
As stated, assessments are meant to help employers understand how a candidate is wired and how he or she will react to certain situations in the workplace. They can help an employer identify what factors motivate a particular candidate, and they can even demonstrate the candidate’s current potential as well as how the employer can develop that potential. Moreover, when analyzed based on the “job specs” of a particular position, such assessments provide insight into the dynamics of communication within the relevant team, thus allowing the employer to create high performance teams and to encourage the existing team to engage in higher levels of cooperation. Another important feature of utilizing assessments is that they highlight and distinguish where most individuals have adapted personality traits versus natural personality traits. As such, employers can then identify which traits the candidate will bring to the position and which traits will need to be crafted for success in the workplace.
Every company consists of individuals working together toward a common goal. Those individuals are forced to work around and with each other on a daily basis, and a company’s survival and growth potential depends on the ability of those individuals to work well together. When employers hire new employees, especially at the senior level, it is critically important to ensure that the employer knows how to integrate the new employee into the company’s behavioral mix. And yes, there will be that rare occasion when a personality or behavioral assessment will reveal that trying to integrate the candidate into that behavioral mix will be like trying to integrate oil with water! But, in our experience, these are rare and isolated occasions.
In this economy, with its ever-widening talent gap, no organization can afford to roll the dice when it comes to knowing how a candidate will integrate into his or her new corporate culture. Let the professionals at Schaffer Associates take the risk out of the hiring process by properly utilizing personality and behavioral assessments for open positions in your organization. Give us a call today.
Mike Briles is an Account Executive with Schaffer Associates and holds a Doctoral Degree from Liberty University in Leadership and Management with a focus on behavioral and personality profiles. Contact Mike today at (704) 535-9939 or Mike@SchafferAssociates.com.
Schaffer Associates is an executive search firm specializing in talent acquisition for the hardware, home improvement, building materials, and consumer products industries. As premier executive recruiters with expert focus on your industry, we help you HIRE SMART.
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