Optimize Your Staffing Decisions

By Dana Borowka

The wrong hiring decision can cost your company well over two to three times the individual’s salary according to Barry Deutsch, Impact Hiring Solutions. This figure may be a conservative estimate because of factors like training, evaluation, termination, re-initiating the hiring process, and lost opportunity costs. There is also an emotional factor involved in a bad hire situation. Not only can it cause stress and anxiety for both management and employees, but it also takes away focus from your company’s primary goals. Essentially, a bad hire can have a negative impact on your company’s bottom line and that won’t benefit you or your workforce.

These circumstances can be minimized during the initial hiring process by using several techniques including effective recruitment programs, skilled interviewing and in-depth work-style and personality assessment tests. A personality assessment is a highly effective tool and an efficient use of company resources at this crucial point of the decision making process.

Personality Assessment Testing – A Standard in Recruiting

As with any business decision, having the right information is critical. Work style and personality assessment testing can provide insight into potential hires, as well as your current workforce, in several ways:

Identify potential red flags: A personality assessment can discover issues that are sometimes overlooked during the interviewing process and can quantify an intuition or feeling the interviewer may have about a particular candidate. It can be used to identify potential red flags concerning behavioral issues, help understand how to manage individuals for greater work performance and compare interpersonal dynamics of teams, departments and candidates.

Learn how to optimize employees’ work performance: A personality assessment can provide extensive information on an individual’s ability to work with their job responsibilities, team dynamics and company culture. Additionally, the assessment can show effective strategies to gain optimal performance from that individual within their particular work environment. It can also be employed to quickly identify the most effective management style for a new employee or predict how team members are likely to interact.

Ensure you have the right people in the right positions: Additionally, personality assessments can be utilized in rehires, or situations which call for employees to re-apply for their current jobs, as in the case of a corporate merger or restructuring. A personality assessment test can also ensure that your company continues to have the right people in the right positions and distribute assets & talents effectively.

Which Personality Assessment Tool Should My Organization Use?

The following are some things to think about when reviewing various work style & personality profiles:

1. Training or degrees required for interpretation of the data. Weekend training programs can be problematic since testing and human behavior is a very complex subject. When making hiring or internal decisions, organizations need as much information and understanding as possible as the consequences can be very costly.

2. A copy of the resume should be supplied to the testing company to review when discussing the assessment results. We suggest to make sure that they require this as part of the process so it is used when reviewing the assessment.

3. Scale for “Impression Management” to understanding accuracy of results and if someone is trying to ‘fake good’. The questionnaire needs at a minimum of 164 questions to gather enough data for this scale.

4. Common warning signs: When a representative uses absolute statements when describing human behavior, like ‘People are all the same’ or ‘People don’t change.’ This will convey what their level of understanding of the human personality is. Or when someone claims that their profile is 98 or 99% accurate, which rarely can be clinically supported. If you hear this, ask how the data was collected.

5. Career Matching: Some organizations claim to know what the perfect “sales person” or “secretary” is from a personality perspective. Ask how many careers and occupations have been studied; is the data base validated by outside organizations or only by “applied in-house studies”. “Ideal” is very difficult to define due to the variance of geography, job history and education. What is most important is if the individual has a similar thought pattern that meets the criteria within the job description.

6. Number of studies conducted by major universities and there should be multiple studies for validation purposes.

7. How long has the profile been used – what is the history.

8. Cultural bias – is it built into the profile and for which countries.

9. Does the profile meet U.S. government employment standards? Has it been reviewed for ADA compliance & gender, culture & racial bias?

10. Reading level required (5th grade English, etc).

11. Number of actual primary scales as defined by the “Big 5” testing standards. Many tests will claim to have more scales than they actually have – this can lead to misrepresentation of data.

12. Does the data provide the depth necessary, to understand how an individual is wired inside?

13. Validity, reliability and basis.

These are some general questions and if a profile falls short in any one area, we strongly suggest additional research into the accuracy of the data being generated.

Frequently Asked Questions

A frequent question from companies and organizations concerns the legal guidelines in administering assessments to potential employees. Industry regulations can vary and the best option is to consult with your company’s trade association or legal department. As a general rule, if your company uses an assessment, any test or set of hiring questions must be administered to all of the final candidates in order to assure that discrimination is not present. Additional information can be found online at the EEOC website, in the Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees section.


A personality assessment is only one component needed for a successful recruitment and hiring program. It can provide valuable information for critical personnel decisions. Combined with an effective recruitment program and skilled interview techniques, it can benefit your company as a whole, in addition to your individual employees. Armed with accurate and quantifiable data from an in-depth personality assessment, the interview process becomes much more reliable. Ultimately, this only adds to your organization’s bottom line, allowing more effective management of your existing workforce and limiting the potential for wrong hiring decisions.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2013

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.org

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the book, “Cracking the Personality Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.org.
Originally published: Aug 1, 2013

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