You've heard the buzz: "Select for talent; right person, right
role." But how do you do that? How do you transfer this concept
into practical application? How do you uncover talents and
strengths during the selection process and as part of a
career-development program? Part of the answer lies in using a
valid and reliable personality assessment system.
What is a Personality Assessment?
As far back as Hippocrates in the fifth century, behavioral
scientists have been intrigued by human behavior and have analyzed
behavior in an attempt to understand people better. Today, we have
the benefit of a significant body of research that has identified
five primary personality traits: dominance, extroversion, patience,
conformity and conscientiousness.
Individuals higher in dominance are
authoritative and prefer being in control. They are highly
competitive and like to keep score. They are motivated by daily
challenges and tangible results.
Individuals higher in extroversion are highly
persuasive, outgoing, and enthusiastic. They are creative and tend
to think in terms of the big picture. They are motivated by
visibility and public recognition and are good at promoting their
product, services, organization, and so forth.
Individuals higher in patience are paced and
persistent. They tend to be relationship focused and take time to
develop others. They are motivated by harmony and consensus. They
are support specialists, good listeners, and promote teambuilding.
Individuals higher in conformity are
disciplined, committed to excellence, and precise. They are
motivated by doing things by the book and will have an eye on
quality, systems, and processes.
Individuals higher in conscientiousness are
purposeful, determined, scrupulous, and reliable. They are goal
directed and highly motivated. The consensus among psychological
researchers is that highly significant correlations exist between
higher conscientiousness and superior job performance.
A personality assessment measures an individual's preferences in
these five behavioral traits. Try this quick exercise. Find a blank
sheet of paper and sign your name. How did it feel? Natural,
comfortable, you didn't have to think about it, right? Now, use
your non-preferred hand and sign your name. How did that feel?
Awkward, uncomfortable? A personality assessment identifies the
behavioral tendencies or natural preferences of each person, when
they feel more natural, energized, and competent. By understanding
an individual's tendencies in these five personality traits, you
will have a better sense of their natural strengths and talents
that could best support job success, as well as potential
liabilities that could hinder their success.
How Does it Work?
There are three main components to using a personality assessment.
- The Communication Profile measures the relative
strength of the five personality factors within the individual.
While there is a wide variety of personality assessments in the
marketplace, additional components that give powerful insight
include Emotional Intelligence factors (personal insight,
self-discipline, drive, interpersonal insight, social agility), as
well as tendencies in motivation, leadership style, decision-making
style, energy, stress level, proactivity, and self-monitoring.
- The Job Profile identifies key success factors of your
existing top performers, the personality traits and behavioral
tendencies most closely tied to success within each position.
Capturing the behaviors that your top performers demonstrate on the
job allows you to build a unique success template for each
position. If you don't have top performers in the position, an
effective assessment system uses a job profile survey based on the
perceptions of key associates and managers who can define what top
performance looks like.
- The Matching Report compares and contrasts an
individual to the Job Profile. During the selection process, this
report shows how much flexibility the candidate would need to exert
in order to perform the essential duties of the position. The more
flexibility used, the more energy the person needs to expend. If a
person needs to flex too far away from their natural tendencies and
personality preferences, it can be exhausting. The candidate would
not use their greatest strengths to perform their job. Used in
career development, this objective report supports a meaningful
coaching discussion, how strengths can be leveraged and areas where
strength needs to be developed.
An additional component that is critical during the selection
process is an Interview Guide that focuses on the job's
core competencies. It provides interviewers with targeted,
behavior-based interview questions to confirm strengths and probe
likely challenges based on past behaviors during specific
on-the-job experiences. It also creates consistency, an
apples-to-apples comparison, when evaluating the best candidate for
Does a personality assessment tell me all I need to know
about an individual? Let's return to our earlier
handwriting example. Imagine you broke your preferred hand and had
to use your non-preferred hand for some time. What would happen?
The more you write with your non-preferred hand, the better you'd
get, perhaps even proficient. While a personality assessment gives
insight into natural talents and strengths, a behavior-based
interview reveals areas of additional skill that may have been
developed through challenging work assignments or a good coach.
Organizations that use a personality assessment as a knock-out tool
do not get the whole story and overlook good candidates who have
developed additional skills and success strategies based on their
While a personality assessment provides insight into individual
talents, the interview will reveal how much the candidate likes
using particular strengths and talents and if the way the talents
are demonstrated is a good fit for the job and your company.
Leveraging insights from a personality assessment to conduct a
targeted and meaningful interview or career-development discussion
will give you better information to ensure the right person in the
right role. A better career fit translates into increased employee
retention and productivity, ultimately, leading to improved bottom
line results. In the next issue of Measurement, Evaluation,
& ROI News, we will explore how to identify the right
assessment system for your organization.