Consult Recruitment NZ > Hiring  > Is Aptitude Testing And Personality Profiling Your Recruitment Crutch?

Is Aptitude Testing And Personality Profiling Your Recruitment Crutch?

I am risking the wrath of the HR world on this one. 

Tomatoes may be flying before the day is out, and I’ll need to be very careful attending any HR conferences for the next while. 

But this just has to be said, because here at the business end of recruitment, we see the impact that over-reliance on aptitude testing and personality profiling has on your ability to hire exceptional people into your business. 

Sourcing and attracting top talent into your organisation is always going to be hard.  To be fair, there are a lot of average employees out there and if you’re striving for exceptional employees, you need a strong selection process. Many companies now incorporate aptitude testing and personality profiling into that process. That’s all good – these tools can be a useful part of the picture.

The problem arises when companies stop using testing and profiling as one piece of the puzzle, and instead rely on their results as the ultimate YES/NO factor for hiring. In my humble opinion, this is to their huge detriment.

Here’s why:

  • Testing and profiling can be used as tools to assist in (not dominate) the selection process, but they’re more valuable in the management of new hires once they’re on board.  Their real value is in learning how you can get the best out of someone; in understanding what works for their personality when it comes to management and learning.
  • Testing and profiling is often conducted (and the results interpreted) by someone in the organisation with little understanding of the test or testing environment.  If hiring high performing people is critical to the success of the business, why is it okay for an unqualified person to influence those hiring decisions?
  • Often those taking the tests are extremely uncomfortable and nervous. There are very few people out there who are capable of performing at their best in this artificial situation, meaning the results are very often well out of step with how they perform on the job. We’ve seen many, many situations where a person who has consistently been rated as a very high performer on the job by multiple managers – and who has had demonstrable success on their career – has ‘failed’ an aptitude test. Conversely, some people are great at taking tests, but are not so great in a real life situation – and we’ve seen plenty of examples of this, too.
  • Many employers apply their hindsight to testing and profiling as an easy ‘out’ when looking for reasons why a hire didn’t work out:  “Oh, he turned out to be a bad hire, and in his personality profile it said he sometimes he liked to work alone – I should have listened”.  There is much more to an employee not working out than one element of their personality or aptitude (as judged by a test), and solely focusing on test results means you’re missing the opportunity to learn what potentially you need to do as a manager or as a business to not lose the next person.

I believe that aptitude testing and personality profiling are valuable tools, but that is it.  They are not ‘God’, they don’t provide information that can’t be found elsewhere through a good process, and often the reliance on them is not of benefit to the company.  They can slow a hiring process considerably and for some roles where there is already a talent shortage, this delay often results in losing high performers to your competition.

When used in conjunction with a robust and efficient process however, they can provide useful information for you to manage and get the best out of your new hire.  What they don’t do is provide you with the answer to your hire/don’t hire question.

If your aim is to ensure you (and not your competition!) hire the sought-after high performers, perhaps it’s time you reviewed your selection process. 

Comments are welcome, but not tomatoes!

PS: That photo’s a Little Britain reference. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is unintended and purely coincidental. Most of the HR people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting are vastly more intelligent and charismatic!

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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