Whether it’s called psychometric assessment, profiling, testing, or ‘one of those psycho-analysis things’, the idea of personality assessment and its place in the talent management process is often misunderstood.

Most people remember their own profile ‘a long time ago’ consisting of four colours, numbers or animals that told them whether they were an introvert, extrovert and so on.  Sometimes they’re terrifically accurate, and sometimes they’re as good as a horoscope on the back of a trashy magazine.

But from a recruitment or training manager’s perspective, how do these different assessments indicate potential job performance, and how much emphasis should be placed on the results of a personality assessment?

Here are a few quick tips on using psychometric assessment:

TIP 1: Picking the right assessment is complicated

A lot of companies are tempted to purchase low cost assessments that are automated, simple to use and generic in their predictions. This can be effective, but only in certain circumstances.  Typically the ‘four category’ type of assessments that are commonly used in the workplace are great for team building activities, or understanding our colleagues.

However, they can be a risk in your recruitment process, as their ability to precisely measure elements relevant to your particular needs is often limited.  Similarly when evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of teams to identify training needs, ensure that you use an assessment with enough horsepower to take in to account your particular organisational environment.  Using a sales profile that focuses on measuring ‘hunter’ sales characteristics when you have a primarily ‘farmer’ based sales model is a mistake made all too often.

The key is to use a quality, in-depth, assessment tool that measures candidates and staff against the position, the organisational culture, the team, the client and so on.  A system like the Caliper Analytics platform allows managers or trainers to custom design personality assessments instantly in the cloud for use in either recruitment or training needs analysis.  Make sure you’re using a system with similar capabilities.

TIP 2: The Profile isn’t the whole story

This may strange coming from a personality assessment company, but don’t make the mistake of basing your talent management decisions solely on the results of a personality assessment.  Yes, they are incredibly valuable pieces of information, but always remember that they are only one part of the puzzle.  Performance is a combination of inherent traits, learned behaviours, motivators, values, skills and organisational culture fit.

Over our 55 years in business, Caliper has seen the misuse of our product (and of course other assessment tools) by clients relying solely on the personality assessment.  Know what your assessment tool is measuring before you rush off to make a decision – psychometrics measure a person’s ‘hard wiring’ and natural tendencies, but not their learned behaviours and hard skills.  Remember to interview well, reference check and use assessments as a means to ‘find out more’.

TIP 3: Can you change someone’s profile with training?

The question we often get at Caliper when an individual’s profile shows a significant lack of potential for a role is ‘Can we train them?’

The answer is a confusing and often frustrating ‘sometimes’.

Some areas are easier to train than others.  Attention to detail and time management is one of the areas that we can see an impact achieved with training and development.  Similarly, we can teach questioning techniques to those low on the trait of Empathy, or bounce back techniques to those low on the traits of Resilience.

Where problems arise however, is when you try to train an internal motivator, such as the Caliper Profile trait of Ego-Drive.

Ego-Drive is an internal motivation to persuade others to say ‘yes’.  We call it the rocket fuel of sales, and often great leaders possess plenty of this trait also.

Individuals with high levels of Ego-Drive are naturally persuasive, and they gain an internal satisfaction from winning a ‘yes’ from others.  The hard question we always ask clients is ‘How do you train that?’ If you’re trying to recruit a hunter salesperson and they have no internal motivation to get a ‘yes’ from people, no comfort for pushing past objections, and natural resilience to setbacks, is it a good idea to recruit that person with the view of ‘we can just train them’?

The key skill is using personality assessments correctly is understanding what you’re willing to live with from a strengths and weaknesses perspective.  This of course, is always subjective to the role and your business.  Use an assessment that caters for the intricacies of the jobs at your company and what you need for success in each position.

The technology behind assessments is rapidly advancing, giving more relevant information to the manager.  The launch of Caliper Analytics in 2016 sees the arrival of a system where the user can design their own profiles unique to their business requirements in minutes, at a fraction of the cost of regular profiling systems.

For more information, contact Caliper Australia.