By Comparison

job applicantDear Job Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in working here at Mundane Industries.  
Although your qualifications were impressive, I regret to inform you that you were disqualified from consideration by our standard drug and personality testing.  While you are to be congratulated on testing negative for drug use, I’m sorry to report that you tested positive for personality.  Our experience has shown that having a personality is detrimental to our “team” approach – as we like to say: No personality, no personality conflicts.
If you would like to question or contest our findings, state your concerns in a letter, fill out a self-addressed, stamped envelope, then place the letter in the SASE and mail it to yourself, as your objections merely confirm that you are definitely not the sort of person we are seeking.  
 
Sincerely,
Winslow Cheeseley
Hiring Manager

Personality Testing, Really? Why?
 
Sure, it works – it screens out the occasional candidate who won’t play the game.  But then what?  You have an applicant guessing what you want to hear, matched up against some psychologist’s guess about what makes for success in a job.  Paper – scissors – rock.  And then you get the results, and suddenly you’re no longer a person, you’re a “Quadrant Four” or some such.  It’s auto - pigeonholing, the People Magazine of stereotyping.
 
At Scheig, instead of testing personalities, we identify star performers.  We then ask the stars what makes for success, using the answers in assessing and to guide interviews.  In other words, the hiring is based on behaviors, not personalities.
 
Working with groups of star performers, the first thing you realize is that personality is not related to output.  For instance one of our studies was with salespeople for car dealers.  Of the 10 star performers, only one was the sort you’d call a ‘salesman type.’  One of the others was a woman so soft-spoken you had to lean in to hear what she was saying. Which confirms that the best salespeople can often times be  the ones who don’t seem like salespeople.  
 
The use of psychological/personality tests will yield a correlation in general terms, but the question we ask is why measure the person in the abstract? Why not measure the person for the job? What do a high performing “extrovert” and a high performing “introvert” have in common? They both do the actual job behaviors which impact productivity so why try to build a construct? Better (and more predictive) is to look specifically at the actual job behaviors that come from a job analysis with top performing employees.
 
Productivity is in the detail: the actual job behaviors, not in the trait or construct. The competitions’ model says that person x is an introvert and then they generalize to the behaviors. We don’t care what kind of personality a person is. We want to know if they do the specific job behaviors that superior performers tell us make differences in productivity outcomes on the job. We take their model and turn it right-side up.