When Personality Assessment Results Disappoint

by Eric Baker
on 2016-03-02

When we talk about personality-based employment assessments, the message is often some variation of: Using a valid pre-employment assessment can help you dig deeper than resumes and interviews and discover which applicant has the intrinsic strengths and motivations to succeed in the role.

That’s all true. But what happens when the results of the pre-employment assessment aren’t what you wanted to see? That is, what if your favorite candidate does not show the intrinsic motivations for the role?

Jessica Principale, Talent Management Consultant with Caliper, often finds herself advising clients on job applicants whose assessment results do not line up well with the position the client is trying to fill.

“Those conversations can be challenging,” Jessica says. “I try to dig deeper into why they feel so strongly about the candidate. You have to relate to what they see in the results, but then use the instrument to uncover the behavioral tendencies that lie below the surface. Once I link the data to the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, most hiring managers will understand my perspective.”

Of course, job candidates are more than the results of a personality assessment. They are real people, and sometimes real people click with each other. Caliper would never say to a client, don’t hire this person. Even the best personality assessment is only part of the story. Still, it’s critical to take a long view.

According to Jessica, personally connecting with a job applicant and valuing their experiences can be important components of the hiring decision, but those elements do not necessarily indicate how the candidate would handle the unique responsibilities of the role over time.

“At that point, I try to refocus the conversation on job tasks and relate them to the applicant’s intrinsic behavioral competencies,” Jessica adds.

Behavioral competencies emerge when personality attributes intersect with job responsibilities, and they can be identified ahead of time through the use of a scientifically validated pre-employment assessment like the Caliper Profile. Whether or not an applicant’s assessment results show the key behavioral competencies associated with a certain job, Caliper wants its clients to get the most out of their new hires.

“If the client decides to hire an applicant with results that do not line up well with the job, I try to ensure they are prepared for what they are getting,” Jessica says. “We talk in depth about the coaching areas, and I work with hiring managers to develop onboarding action plans. If issues do arise, they can always reach out to me, and we’ll brainstorm alternatives.”

What does Jessica say is most important in getting past the rough patches?

“Communication and follow-up.” Good advice for anything in life, really.