Interviewing Tips for Hiring Managers
10 tips to help you engage job candidates and make the right hire.
As the unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent, competition for jobs is fierce. Employers have applicants with a wide range of skills and abilities vying for the few jobs they have. It only makes sense that they have to come up with new ways to differentiate between "good fits" and "best fits" for the positions. Sometimes they do that with personality tests.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with labor and employment law attorney Gavin Appleby, a shareholder in the firm of Littler Mendelson. Though such tests can often provide valuable insight into whether applicants are "cut out for" sales work or jobs that require extraordinary attention to detail, for instance, improperly constructed or poorly administered tests can violate an applicant's rights and land the employer in hot water with authorities.
The idea is to create a test that can demonstrate whether someone has a particular trait. Then you can use that test to weed out people, or make better decisions as to who's likely to be good at it and who's not. There are tests that deal with sales. There are tests that address detail orientation. There are tests that address relating to customers over the phone. They're all directed at one trait or another within a personality.
The good test creators, he said, "use a job-relatedness analysis to determine what makes a good performer a good performer," and they build the test around those things.
Companies get in trouble when they use tests like those that are administered in more clinical situations. The tests should be structured to reveal whether a potential employee has a particular trait, Appleby told me. Employers don't need to know "the underlying psychological problems" that may cause the trait. Tests like that can run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Moreover, he explained, they aren't as focused on job relatedness, so they create more risk that way as well.
The moral of the story? If you're using personality tests in your hiring process, make sure they're designed to reveal job-related traits. Stay away from the broad, more clinical personality assessments, and - this should go without saying - avoid the really old tests that include questions on prohibited factors like race, religion, gender, etc.