Monday, March 28, 2011

Personality Tests. A Good Idea?

If you have some time, you may want to read about the infamous MMPI or Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, test. But really, I just hope that as employers, there is an understanding that any employment hiring decisions should be based on the knowledge, skills and abilities of the applicant. There is no perfect test to help determine whether or not someone will show up to work on time, meet the required challenges of their job or get along well with their co-workers.

Certainly past performance is a good indicator of future performance, but it should not be the end all decision maker. Unfortunately, personality conflicts do exist in the workplace, and perhaps some employers believe that a personality test will protect them from these complicated interactions. But really, how can you stop basic human nature?

From the article written by Annie Murphy Paul:

Instead of measuring depression or mania or hypochondria, these personality tests set out to identify qualities of interest to employers: dependability, honesty, friendliness, and the “desire to follow rules, policies, and procedures,” as well as the appropriate “customer service attitude.” More important, such tests promise to screen out those who will be chronically late or absent, who will engage in theft or “computer abuse” (emailing and Internet surfing on company time), who will have “personal and/or transportation problems” and who will indulge in “counterproductive behavior” or “alienated attitudes.” Still more ambitiously, these questionnaires purport to predict whether employees will be injured in a job-related accident, will file a fraudulent workers’ comp claim, will abuse drugs or alcohol, or will engage in workplace violence. (One workplace personality test alerts employers to applicants who fit a “Litigious Profile” or a “Corporate Stalker Profile.”)

I personally choose to believe that individuals looking for work are actually seeking to better themselves, contribute to the society around them, and make an honest to goodness paycheck to help support themselves or their family.

I hope you do too. And, I hope that you treat these applicants fairly under the law, give them an opportunity to show you what kind of employee they can be through their past experience, and, perhaps also, through lessons learned at previous employers. The bottom-line is that as a society our goal should be to help qualified people find work.

What say you?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

What to do when you have "too many" applications

I had a call from an employer client who was thrilled with the response to his employment ad on Cool Works, but then also perplexed by what to do now. Basically, he had never had the "problem" of having so many applications to process. We call this the paradox of success.

He mentioned something about using personality tests to find the right one, but I quickly steered him away from that. In my humble opinion, and experience, the best ways to find the best candidates include the following items.

  • Have a job description that describes the critical components for success.
  • Review the applications to see who best matches what skills, knowledge and abilities you are looking for.
  • Have standard interview questions that focus on performance from previous jobs and ask how the candidate would handle various job scenarios / situations going forward. It's important to describe real situations that happen at YOUR workplace.
  • Know your corporate (or not so corporate) culture and look for someone who fits.
  • Don't discriminate. Keep the process focused on the job itself and the who is the best candidate to do it regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, age, religion, or sexual orientation.
  • Be consistent throughout the entire process.
  • Document what you did.

It may help to have a applicant management system like our Staffing Center, especially if you receive hundreds or thousands of applications. But, I think the real key is know what you are looking for and review your candidates with an open mind to discover the best candidate.

And, for those candidates you decline to offer jobs, keep these tips in mind.

  • Tell them that they didn't get the job.
  • Be respectful.
  • Answer their questions about why they didn't get the job and have a good, documented reason.
  • Be nice.
  • Keep next season in mind and remember that the candidates will most likely tell their friends about their experience applying to work for your organization. Try to keep that whole experience, even with no job offer, a positive one.

The bottom line is always to treat others as you would want to be treated. Now get to work!