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The Science of Personality Assessment

Why Assessment Should be a Piece of the Hiring Puzzle

Dr. Robert Hogan, Founder of Hogan Assessments

W

hether booming business requires more manpower to keep up or a sudden setback results in the departure of a critical middle manager, most organizations can’t avoid the hiring process for long.

Since hiring can be labor-intensive, it’s easy to stick with the same habits. Scan resumes for grammatical errors, double-check work experience, and prepare to ask numerous people to recite their greatest strength and weakness. You might not always hire the candidate with the best fit, but that’s just one of the traditional shortcomings of the hiring process corporations have learned to endure, right?

Today, a growing number of corporations are turning to personality assessments as part of their hiring process. Though the concept may seem part of the new wave of experimental strategies Silicon Valley companies are touting, the science of personality assessments is rooted in studies dating as far back as the 1960s, and a number of assessment companies have offered their services for decades.

After a candidate answers a series of intuitive yet carefully-chosen questions, personality assessments produce a detailed array of individual characteristics, such as their levels of altruism, excitability, and curiosity, just to name a few. Taken in combination, these characteristics indicate how he or she will likely react to situations such as deadline stress or sudden change. You won’t have to ask him or her about their greatest strengths and weaknesses – you’ll already know.

Is Science Important in Personality Assessment? Yep.
Since personality assessments have been around for decades, accredited psychologists have already compared their effectiveness against other forms of job screening using statistical analysis. Each method was compared to an employee’s actual performance on the job and given a correlation score. In statistical analysis, correlation is expressed as a ranking between 1.00, a perfect match, and -1.00, a perfect mismatch. For example, two Fuji apples might have a correlation close to 1, while a Fuji apple and a rock would have a correlation close to -1.

Resumes and structured interviews, the backbone of most corporate talent acquisition, both achieved a correlation of 0.18. Cognitive and situational judgement tests scored 0.2 and 0.21 respectively. Personality assessments achieved a correlation range between 0.25 and 0.35, showing the strongest link to future career success of all the elements measured.

While psychological researchers tend to judge personality assessments on methods that are scientifically measurable, corporations measure success by their bottom line. With that in mind, studies have examined how these assessments can directly affect revenues as well.

Naturally, businesses are affected by hundreds of factors beyond employee fit. If the price of steel suddenly skyrockets, even the most talented workers would have trouble keeping that from negatively impacting the profits of an automaker, for example. As a result, the correlation between how well employees fit their positions based on personality assessments and overall company revenue ranked relatively low at 0.12 for the first year and 0.18 for the second.

Yet that correlation still resulted in a large impact on company performance. In a study conducted by researchers at Hogan Assessments, an automotive chain location managed by employees assessed to be a poor fit with the company would average quarterly sales of $300,000 in the first and second years. In the moderate fit scenario, that quarterly total jumped to over $600,000 in the first year and near $700,000 the second. The high fit scenario produced quarterly sales near $700,000 for both years.

Of course, there’s no single job selection criteria that will find the best workforce by itself. A candidate might have a perfect personality fit but no skill for the actual work. But when these elements are taken together, they offer a more complete picture of how well a candidate will contribute to your business. Personality assessments fill in a vital piece of the full candidate picture that traditional job screening methods can miss.

About Hogan Assessments
Since personality assessments have been around for decades, accredited psychologists have already compared their effectiveness against other forms of job screening using statistical analysis. Each method was compared to an employee’s actual performance on the job and given a correlation score. In statistical analysis, correlation is expressed as a ranking between 1.00, a perfect match, and -1.00, a perfect mismatch. For example, two Fuji apples might have a correlation close to 1, while a Fuji apple and a rock would have a correlation close to -1.