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Lies, Damn Lies, and Profile Tests

Lies, Damn Lies, and Profile Tests

Judy Kennelley - Tuesday, May 02, 2017

So, I took a personality assessment test the other day that indicated I basically sucked at interviewing and communicating with people, along with several other attributes that would be required to be successful in a business environment. I really didn’t feel bad because my partner, Tom, took the same test and was identified as a rock star VP of Sales candidate even though he’s never managed a sales team or been in a sales role in his entire business career. In fact, I had a highly successful VP of Sales take the same test and Tom kicked his ass in the test!

Anybody that knows me would say my test score was BS. Anybody that knows Tom would say “STOP USING THAT ASSESSMENT TOOL NOW”! By the time we got the results from the fourth test we were pretty well convinced that the IP behind this tool was actually a random number generator.

Over the years, we’ve worked with several companies that have bought into the idea of using personality assessment tools to screen candidates. The idealized fantasy of this is incredibility compelling. As a hiring manager, the thought of having a test that can accurately predict the future success of a candidate is basically winning the employment lottery.

So, what’s going on here?

Tom may not be a VP of Sales, but he did get his Masters using a highly sophisticated statistical technique. When I asked him the question above he started spouting off a bunch of incomprehensible scientific crap with words like population size, confidence levels Blah! Blah! Blah!… that had me reaching for my evening wine glass as fast as I could.

Basically, this is what he said. To remotely come close to being able to create a tool like that for one of our clients, you’d have to have a large number of people, doing the exact same job, at the same company, and then test them all, and then scientifically examine the results, and then refine the results, and test them all again and then probably refine it some more and hopefully you’d have something that works, and BTW none of this is actually possible or reasonable with a start-up or early stage company!

I’m quite sure that was the longest run-on sentence in my blog writing career, and trust me this discussion went on a lot longer than that long paragraph implies. For 99% of the people reading this I know you’d fall asleep if you got the whole story and since this is a blog I’d have no way to wake you up so you could read the rest of this blog.

People who create and sell these profile tests think recruiters hate them. Are you kidding me!! If I had a test that I could give to my candidates that would increase my success in placements I’d be all over it and wouldn’t mind paying a fortune for it as well! The problem is none of them really work for screening candidates in senior level roles.

Do I think personality/profile assessments have a use for my clients? Yes. In my next blog, I’ll tell you which one we’ve used and how we are using it in a successful placement process.

Here are a couple of additional articles on using these assessment tools:

If you want to read a good general article about personality tests go here:

https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/pages/0615-personality-tests.aspx

This article references a study that found a correlation between personality and job performance to be nearly zero:

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/how-reliable-are-personality-tests.aspx

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Judy

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