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Personnel psychology

In previous blogs we have looked at some of the practical issues relating to recruitment and retention of staff. But is there a way of boosting your odds of finding the right people for your business that doesn’t depend on instinct or guesswork?

Many firms use personality testing to help them identify employees with the ‘right’ behaviours. The most commonly used example is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is designed to show how individuals see and interact with the world, giving insight into their motivations.

This test focuses on where a person gets or focuses their energy; the kind of information they trust; the process they use in coming to decisions; and how they deal with the world around them.

People persons

The objective of this and other tests is to predict what a person will achieve at work and what they will be like to work with. The theory is that businesses benefit from putting the right person in the right job, which in many cases is about finding personalities that best fit the role and the working environment.

Some experts believe that people who lack self-awareness can disrupt work teams and even antagonise their colleagues without realising what they are doing. They may struggle to understand why they react to situations in a certain way or how others are able to react differently.

In a working world where employees are more aware of professional development, personality tests can help them identify their strengths and weaknesses and show them what they need to work on to improve their career prospects.

Perfect personality…

Advocates of personality testing describe it as an essential tool for team building. Rather than using standard tests, employers can design their own assessment based on the characteristics they are looking for.

In some cases the results of these tests can also help candidates find jobs their personalities make them a good match for but that they may not have considered.

Businesses looking to identify potential employees with management potential might also consider emotional intelligence testing. Successful leaders often have skills that are associated with emotional intelligence, such as empathy and self-regulation as well as the ability to get the best from other people.

…or pyschobabble?

An obvious problem with testing is that people don’t always tell the truth. We have all been guilty of telling someone what they want to hear at some point in our lives and it wouldn’t be unusual for a candidate desperate to land a job to be economical with the truth.

There is no such thing as a 100% accurate personality test, so businesses should not assume that testing will accurately predict exactly how someone will react in every situation. There is also the danger that the process reduces individuals to stereotypes, regardless of their unique characteristics.

Regardless of your perception of the value of personality testing, it does not replace the need for proper interview processes and screening to weed out obviously unsuitable candidates.