The typical interview process reviews the candidate’s technical skills. However, it is not enough. There is no way to guarantee a good hire, but there are several options to reduce the odds of a bad one. These options include a reliable personality assessment.
Bad hiring decisions have bad consequences. For some jobs, like patient care, a bad hiring decision can be dangerous or even fatal. Here’s an unusual but real example.
I was the CEO of a nonprofit agency providing 24-hour care and treatment to abused, neglected, and severely emotionally disturbed young children aged 5-12. Not being fully staffed was not an option, both for the safety of the children and for keeping our license to operate.
One afternoon I was at my desk with the window open when I heard a loud screech from across the way where the children resided. I ran down the hall, out the door, and burst in the cottage. I found one of the children, a 6-year-old boy, holding his hand and sobbing, obviously in pain. When he saw me, he yelled, “She bit me!”
The new child care worker ran into the room red in the face with anger, and shouted, “He bit me first!”
Biting a patient who is in your care is another threat to the license to operate, not to mention, assault and battery. I asked the new worker to step outside with me and told her she was fired and to leave immediately. She was shocked. “Well that’s what my mother did to me!” she said and stomped off.
She had passed our stringent hiring process. But we missed something. Her natural personality trait, a tendency to explosive anger, was opposite to what was needed to do this difficult job.
Looking back, we determined, and her references supported that she had the technical skills required for the job, i.e., ability to administer first aid, as well as knowledge about child abuse and emotionally disturbed children. What she didn’t have was the personality required to keep her cool in tough situations.
That was years ago. I now use a highly-researched and reliable personality assessment, The Workplace Big 5 Profile 4.0. The Workplace Big 5 Profile 4.0 assesses your natural personality traits. It explores the “Big 5” Personality supertraits, which include: Originality, Consolidation, Extraversion, Accommodation, and Need for Stability. Each of these supertraits has subtraits. The assessment scores your natural tendencies on a continuum to create the self-awareness needed to help you maximize your natural talents.
The example I shared is not the only incident that occurred in our organization. I cannot count the number of times when, after interviewing well, child care workers were hired and then later terminated because of similar personality mismatches. A huge benefit of a reputable assessment is the chance of identifying many of these problem areas before you hire.
Some Words of Caution
It is important to note that it is NOT legal to use any assessment by itself to determine whether or not to hire someone. To meet legal standards, all of the accepted processes must be in place alongside the evaluation including resume screening, interviewing, reference checking, etc. Please consult the legal and HR experts to ensure your compliance with current regulations and laws.
Even if in the assessment results one or more personality traits are opposite of what is needed or desired, that IS NOT a valid reason for not hiring. After all, we all have natural tendencies that we work to overcome; we all have been students of self-control since the age of two. It IS, however, a magnificent opportunity for a dialogue about the assessment results in the areas of concern. Using the results to enhance the interview process is an essential part of the assessment’s effectiveness.
Examples of possible conversations, once the assessment results are available, could be:
“Your scores suggest that you like things to be perfect. Why do you think that might be?”
“Tell me about how you would deal with a child who never makes his bed, has sloppy handwriting, and often spills while eating.”
“Can you give me an example of when you were highly irritated and how you handled it?”
“What is the angriest you felt on the job and how did you manage your reaction?”
Also, when employing and assessment, you must use it with all viable candidates or there is a risk of discrimination, i.e., a candidate who was not selected may challenge your decision on the basis that he or she lost out because they didn’t have the opportunity to take the assessment. Again, consult the legal and HR experts to ensure you are in compliance with current regulations and laws.
The Workplace Big 5 4.0 meets the highest standards for use in hiring, promotion, and other career-related matters, having been vetted by attorneys. However, there are several useful assessments out there, and some are better than others. Make sure the one you choose is valid, reliable AND legal to use in the hiring process. In other words, don’t fall for cheap over legal and valid. The best assessments are not cheap. The bottom line is this: using assessments in all key hires is the best investment with the greatest return there is.
I regret that I didn’t discover this assessment tool until after I stopped serving in a leadership role as a CEO. If I were to do it over, I am sure about one thing; I would NEVER hire another child care worker—or anyone—without using a reputable assessment.