5 Questions to Ask Before Using Personality Assessments in Your Hiring Process

Monday, December 11, 2017

Hiring a new employee is always a risk. No matter how much you try to learn about someone through interviews, references, and other traditional methods before making a job offer, you can’t be certain the candidate will succeed. To reduce that risk, many organizations have embraced personality assessments as part of the hiring process. Through the use of assessments and the insights they offer into what motivates people and how they are hardwired, companies can revolutionize their hiring process.

As someone who has worked in the assessment industry as a consultant and an executive, I stand behind the value my company has been able to offer to clients and the guidance we’ve provided to help them make better hiring decisions. However, even the best personality assessment in the world is not a magic bullet. If an assessment is not used in the context of the bigger picture, with consideration of where the candidate will fit into the organization, its potential for positive impact will be limited. To make the most of personality assessments during and after the hiring process, you’ll need to answer five questions.

1. Why Does the Role Exist?

By understanding your organization’s strategy and the specific objectives you are hoping to achieve, you can better determine which performance competencies matter most in each role you are looking to fill. While many job descriptions do an adequate job of describing the major responsibilities as well as the basic skill and knowledge requirements, they rarely paint a clear picture of the strategic importance of a role.

The question I often ask my clients is: How will the incumbent help to move the organization forward? For hiring managers and HR leaders who can answer that question with a high level of accuracy and depth, the assessment data will deliver far greater value than if the job fit is considered solely at face value (that is, if you are simply trying to line up the assessment results with a list of job duties and skills).

2. What Are the Must-Haves?

When I discuss job requirements with clients, their list is usually quite long. It is rare, however, to find a candidate who displays the exact blend of performance competencies to be a perfect fit with those requirements. The discussion typically turns toward prioritizing which qualities are truly critical for success and which ones are nice to have but nonessential. Making those determinations can be challenging, especially when several people are involved in the decision-making process.


Organizations that are successful in identifying the critical success factors are at a major advantage in using assessment data to compare candidates’ performance competencies and, ultimately, to make informed hiring decisions. The list of key job requirements should be short—typically no more than three elements—and it may take knowledge and discipline to pinpoint them. The effort will pay off, though, when you select the candidates who most closely align with the core competencies associated with the position.

3. What Is the Culture of the Organization?

I’ve consulted with plenty of business leaders who hired candidates that seemed to be a good fit for the position in regard to knowledge and skills, but failed because they were not a good fit for the culture of the organization. “Organizational culture” can be described as the values that are at the heart of a company, along with the behaviors that are rewarded versus those that are viewed negatively.

Culture fit has a powerful effect on someone’s potential for success in a given organization. Understanding your organization’s culture can often be quite challenging, but the effort will be rewarded when you hire the people who not only perform well in the position but also want to stay and grow with your company.

4. What External Factors Contribute to Success?

While a candidate’s personality assessment might show the performance competencies that are ideal for success in the job you are looking to fill, other factors are also important in determining how engaged that candidate is likely to be. The personality and style of the candidate’s would-be supervisor, for example, as well as the physical work environment, the competitive forces affecting the industry, and extrinsic factors such as financial reward can affect long-term fulfillment and an employee’s commitment to the organization. Hiring managers, HR leaders, and other talent-acquisition specialists who can utilize personality assessments while keeping these other factors in mind will be best equipped to successfully onboard new team members.

5. How Can I Set a New Hire Up for Long-Term Success?

The most talented employees, as I often hear from clients, have other options. Thus, focusing on career development and providing a clear growth path based on recent hires’ unique strengths and motivations is critical. You’ve already invested a great deal of resources in finding the right person to fill a position, so the next step is to tap into the power of the assessment results for maximizing productivity and increasing the likelihood of retention. If there’s one thought I can impart on people who use or are thinking of using personality assessments: The data from the assessment should remain a living part of an employee’s development. It’s not just for hiring!

By using personality assessments to understand what really drives a person, business leaders can not only hire the best candidates but also support company strategy, reinforce the culture, and ensure you have engaged and productive employees now and tomorrow.

About the Author
Mark Greenberg has been with Caliper since 1993. In his current role as president and CEO, he spearheads Caliper’s overall strategic direction and helps position the company for future growth by working collaboratively with all areas of the organization. Mark has a long history with Caliper, and his expertise includes a deep understanding of the Caliper instrument and how to use it to help clients from the selection through the succession of talent. Mark also serves on Caliper’s Board of Directors. Prior to working with Caliper, Mark spent 10 years in the sales and management arena, including a five-year period managing a location for Berlitz language schools, as well as a five-year stint working for the federal government. Mark obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science at Pitzer College and an MBA in marketing at George Washington University. He also holds teaching certifications for elementary education, social studies, and business education.
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