Beyond the Job Interview: Personality and
to the days where getting a job meant mailing a resume to a few dozen different
places and waiting to be called in for an interview? Once you got your foot in
the door, all that was left to do was impress someone sufficiently enough to
get a job offer. Pretty simple stuff, relatively speaking. A little paperwork,
a little talk — and maybe a job after that.
strategies are changing though, particularly when it comes to higher-level
jobs. Employers now use a variety of additional assessment tools to ensure they
make smart hires that stick around. With a shrinking workforce to choose from,
on top of the high cost of recruiting, don't be surprised if you're asked to
complete a skills inventory or a personality assessment the next time you apply
for a job.
A Growing Trend
According to recent
research, approximately 60 percent of companies have increased their use of
behavior, personality, and skill assessments in their efforts to secure hires
that are better fits for their companies. Their use may extend well beyond the
hiring phase as well — some companies use them to help coach and
train their existing employees, or utilize the assessment data to pair or group
workers into effective teams.
The cost of replacing an
employee, particularly one in an upper-management position, can average three
to five times their annual salary, but many employers have found that
pre-employment assessments can save them significant amounts of time and money.
Since studies show that personality assessments can be a reliable predictor of
an individual's fit with a company and of their overall performance, it makes
sense that some companies are willing to invest in such screening tools to save
themselves money in the long run.
Certainly, assessment tools
aren't the only thing being used as part of the hiring process and most
employers will admit that they may or may not be the deciding factor when it
comes to making a hiring decision. Results of an assessment test may contradict
or completely support the conclusions of an interview, but ultimately the
employer makes a decision based on what they feel is best for their company.
However, if they're unsure about a candidate and an assessment supports the
idea that they may be a bad fit, it can help finalize a decision.
Taking the High Road
As controversial as they
may seem, there aren't any particular assessments that are outlawed at this
point, although their use has certainly been tested. For the most part, use of
assessment tools that measure things such as mental illness and stability are
mostly limited to jobs where mental stability is pertinent to ensuring public
safety. Many of the assessments employers are more likely to use measure
personality traits, skill levels, and work attitudes — not anti-social
tendencies or unusual thought patterns.
Whether you agree with them
or not, you do have a choice when faced with a pre-employment assessment. You
can voice your complaints and most likely lose out on the job, or you can take
the following approach:
- Treat the assessment seriously. Don't make jokes about
it, show up on time, and act and dress professionally. Your attitude and
cooperation tell a lot about you.
- Find out ahead of time how long the assessment is
expected to take, and plan accordingly.
- Keep in mind that the "bigger" the job you're
applying for, the more likely you'll be asked to undertake some sort of
assessment. You can prepare for such a possibility by familiarizing
yourself with some of the more commonly used assessments, so you know what
they are and what they assess. In some cases, you can even take practice
If you are faced with
taking some sort of assessment as part of a job evaluation, try not to get too
stressed out about your results. In most cases, they won't be the only thing on
which a hiring decision is made, so a strong resume and interview are still
important. If the assessment results do result in your not getting a job,
there's a good chance it wasn't a good fit for you anyway. It's not likely a
personal reflection on you, but more of a matter of you just not being the
right person for the job or the company culture. Keep looking, and the right
job will come along.