5 Questions Hiring Managers Should be Asking About Modern Personality Tests

Charles Schwab CEO Walt Bettinger has said one of his methods for finding the right job candidate is to arrive early for a breakfast interview and ask the restaurant manager to purposely make a mistake with the candidate’s order. He says the tactic lets him see how the potential hire reacts to conflict and adversity.

Of course, hiring managers and human resources professionals don’t have the time to take every candidate out for breakfast, so they have to find other ways to determine whether she or he is the right fit, not only in professional competency but in the organization’s culture and community. Many are turning to personality tests, which rely more on data than on gut feeling or instinct to identify the right employees.

These tests can help you quickly sort through candidates and also reduce turnover rates. But with the array of assessment options out there, you need to think carefully about what to measure and why.

Here are five questions about modern personality tests that you should ask to help you find the right fit.

What Behaviors Does Your Company Need?

Start with what you want to assess. “Companies should think through what organizational metrics they’re trying to move the needle on,” says Whitney Martin, founder of ProActive Consulting. “Then they can figure out what to measure in candidates that are correlated with those outcomes they’re trying to predict.”

She says companies often implement assessments without giving enough thought to what behaviors a candidate needs to be successful in that role. “If a health employer wants to impact patient satisfaction scores, they need more nurses with more empathy,” she says. But if your assessments focus just on nursing skills and knowledge, you’re not necessarily hiring people with the behaviors you need.

What’s the Best Way to Measure Those Behaviors?

When you think of personality testing, you may first think of tests like DiSC and Myers-Briggs. But experts say these so-called four-quadrant tests probably won’t help much for assessing candidates.

“If I gave you a Myers-Briggs test every year for 10 years, each one will be different,” says Kelli Dragovich, senior vice president of people at Hired. “People can react differently in a workplace versus personal life.”

That variability undercuts any predictive value, ProActive’s Martin says. “Because of that, the test-retest reliability tends to be lower, so it’s not very effective to use the test pre-hire to predict future performance,” she says.

Using a more holistic assessment — for example, one that includes mental ability scales and interest scales — can give you a much more robust measure of personality, Martin says.

What Kind of Candidate Experience Are You Creating?

The tight job market and competition for top talent mean you need to think more about candidate experience, experts say. “In the testing world, we have shifted our approach to being much more customer-centric, because the realization has finally sunk in for our clients that candidates are your customers,” says Nicholas Martin, director of global products and analytics at Aon’s Assessment Solutions.

He notes that when you’re trying to attract top talent, how you engage with candidates can have a big effect. “There have been case studies showing that if candidates have a bad experience with your hiring practices, that will hurt your bottom line,” he says.

Think through the process. Are candidates enjoying themselves? Are they engaged while they’re taking the assessment? Do the tests and instructions make sense? These questions are a key part of providing a quality candidate experience, Aon’s Martin says.

How Is Gamification Reshaping Personality Tests?

Automation can make many of the routine tasks associated with hiring — scheduling interviews, updating applicants, providing feedback — simpler and easier for hiring managers. This can also lead to a better experience for candidates.

“We’re making it more candidate-centric,” Aon’s Martin says. “We can say, ‘Here’s the link to do your digital interview,’ and they can complete that interview when the timing is best for them, as opposed to saying, ‘Here’s your hour slot in this day; be there or you don’t get the job.’ ”

Gamification — building game elements into assessments — also can help candidates have a positive experience. “There is a lot more interaction and engagement with the assessment itself. So it feels like you’re playing a game while taking a very serious assessment of a particular concept or competency,” Aon’s Martin says.

How Can You Use the Data?

Dragovich says hiring managers also need to consider how to use the data they collect. “You can use it to both help your existing workforce or talent understand their strengths and weaknesses as well as to develop more well-rounded teams and fill in any talent gaps you might have,” she says. “It helps you have a common language across the company around behaviors, which creates a landscape for coaching, development and team building.”

However, don’t get lulled into thinking personality assessments are a cure-all. Dragovich notes that even the best tests should be only one piece of your talent-assessment puzzle. “No company should make yes-or-no hiring decisions based on a subjective personality assessment,” she says.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in June 2016, and substantially updated in December 2018.

How To Build High-Performing Teams

Imagine a stack of resumes that rises far over your head, towering up to the sky as far as the eye can see.

That’s what it can feel like to hire a new employee. The stack of resumes may not rise to the ceiling, but it certainly rises in your inbox. Yet there are hidden patterns within that stack, and if you know those patterns, you’re more likely to pick the right person for the job.

After researching 500,000 people, I’ve found patterns within the hiring process.

The sheer crushing volume of resumes favors people who know how to look good on paper. Yet often, the best hire for you will be the quietly methodical communicator who doesn’t radiate charisma in an interview, or the pragmatic detail manager whose advantages don’t always shine on a job application.

You can turn an average team into a high-performing team. You don’t have to clean house. You just need to identify each person’s personality “specialty.”

The Fascination Advantage® assessment will help you understand your talent around you, so you can create better relationships, grow your business, and become intensely valuable to those who matter most.

It’s understandable that managers will unintentionally hire to replicate themselves, or that a gatekeeper will evaluate on the basis of resumes submitted, yet this is not necessarily effective. It leads to imbalanced teams and conflicted cultures.

It’s tough for members of a team to each add their highest value, if nobody knows each other’s highest value in the first place.

Hire To Optimize Your Team, Not Replicate Your Team

You probably already recognize strengths. If you want more value from your team, start to recognize differences.

Your Fascination Advantage results will identify your unique Advantages, and the Advantages of your team.

A team will succeed in predictable areas, and lag in others, based on the composition of Advantages within that team.

HR managers can handpick certain Advantages, hiring specifically to balance and complement existing team members, or hone specific specialty traits for the overall group.

The more accurately you’ve assessed how a team is seen by the outside world, the more precisely you can guide that team’s interaction with customers and clients. Corporations can better understand and optimize their employees for anything that requires communication, from sales and customer service to hiring and nurturing high-performing talent.

It’s even more important for each team member to understand which of his or her Advantages are most valuable to the team.

Diversity isn’t just about hiring a balance in terms of ethnicity, gender, and age. It’s also about hiring a balance of personalities.

Each speaks a different “language,” based on his or her approach to communication.

Often you’ll find raw gems of potential hidden underneath layers of one-size-fits-all expectations.

The 7 Advantages are…

Innovation: the language of creativity

Passion: the language of relationship

Power: the language of confidence

Prestige: the language of excellence

Trust: the language of stability

Mystique: the language of listening

Alert: the language of details

If your company has become stale and you struggle to innovate, you probably want to recruit people with a primary Innovation Advantage, because they’re creative and tend to challenge the status quo. If your team is chock full of enthusiastic, larger-than-life characters, then you will do well to recruit people with a primary Trust or Mystique to balance the team. Each Advantage contributes a different form of value.

If hiring someone new isn’t an option, that’s okay. Get a clear look at what Advantages already exist on your team, so you can maximize those.

Hiring Based On Advantages

Consider new hires in terms of Advantages and personalities, rather than just skills and experience.

HINT: On the Archetype Matrix (found at, find the adjectives that describe the qualities you are seeking in a job applicant, a committee seat, or other role. Then, fill the role with a preference for those Advantages.

If you want precise analysis, for instance, you might screen prospects to find someone for Alert. If you want a conversationalist who can quickly draw in prospects, you might search for an applicant with Passion or Power.

By supporting and accentuating each person’s natural traits, companies can increase engagement. Engaged employees are more satisfied, and more likely to satisfy customers, which in turn leads to greater revenue and higher goals.

Your dream team is waiting for you. (And you might not even have to sort through that enormous stack of resumes to build it!)

Your free code to the Fascination Advantage assessment:


Most personality assessments tell you how you see the world.

Only one measures how the world sees you.

Here is your private code to find out how the world sees you:

—-> 1. Go to

—-> 2. For the access code, enter TCHAT

The Fascination Advantage is the first marketing-based personality assessment. Answer just 28 questions, and you’ll find out how others perceive you. Created by Sally Hogshead, and based on results of 500,000 participants, this test will reveal the very best of how the world sees you.

World-class branding expert Hogshead has discovered a new way to measure how people perceive your communication. Find out what makes you intensely valuable to others, so the world will see you at your best.

Hogshead rose to the top of the advertising profession in her early 20s, writing ads that fascinated millions of consumers. Over the course of her ad career, Hogshead won hundreds of awards for creativity, copywriting and branding, and was one of the most awarded advertising copywriters right from start of career, including almost every major international advertising awards.

Note: Sally Hogshead will appear on the February 11th edition of the TalentCulture #TChat Show.

About the Author: Sally Hogshead is the creator of The Fascination Advantage™: the world’s first personality test that measures what makes someone most engaging to others.

photo credit: giant stack of resumes via photopin (license)>

Superstar Leadership: Workplace Damage Control

I’ve written lately about various aspects of workplace culture…People are always the number one consideration in my opinion. This topic always directly relates to recruitment and employee retention. It’s inescapable. It’s part of your workplace DNA. Performing a workplace culture audit of a prospective employer and how to nurture company culture, both as a manager and as an employee are so key.  Let’s keep tackling the dark side – repairing a damaged corporate culture.

Every workplace culture/organization (and employee) has good and bad days. Culture takes little hits on the bad days, but a string of bad days or months can turn into permanent damage. Unfortunately as those days and months grind on it can become easy to miss the signs of damage. A stressed management team may be focused on keeping the company afloat; a stressed manager with personal issues or job challenges may turn a deaf ear to rumblings of dissatisfaction.

In the first example, if management fails to communicate its trials, distrust will flower and thrive. In the latter example, also, a failure to communicate, compounded by a lack of responsibility on the part of the manager, creates a breach between employer and employee. Into that breach will creep distrust and its close cousin, unwillingness to believe anything management says. This is not good and should be stopped in it’s tracks.

Communication and trust are the underpinnings of healthy workplace culture. Other culture markers – a shared sense of mission, shared goals, respect – are rooted in trust and communication.

When trust goes, so also goes culture, that valuable mix of the personality of the workplace and its brand and the collective experience of what it means to work in the organization.

A simple measure of damage to a company’s culture is employee turnover. One local small company I know has had 95 percent turnover in the past three years. Yep, almost 100 percent. This happens.

The managers’ reaction? A tone-deaf range of comments, from ‘It was time for those people to move on’ to ‘We’re glad they didn’t go to competitors’; even the suggestion that the massive turnover is a ‘sign of growth on the part of employees fostered by the unique culture at X Company.’

Once you’ve pulled your jaw off the floor, let me assure you this example is real. Not surprisingly, this particular workplace culture is in dire need of repair. The company’s survivors are hardened and sour and new recruits into the organization are often bewildered and leaderless.

Here’s the basic prescription I would suggest to the executives if asked and from there I would refer them to my list of colleagues who specialize in this specific arena of employee retention and engagement (although this culture is so damaged they haven’t sought advice):

First, assess what’s really happened:

  • Make a list of those who left and when. Review notes from their exit interviews and look for repetition of words and themes. These repetitions are the top-level clues to what is wrong with the organization.
  • Correlate reasons given for leaving. I predict there will be very few ‘uniques’ in this group.
  • Cross-reference the above data with time of year as well as acquisition (or loss) of business.
  • Review every email sent to the company announcing a defection and look for patterns describing the person’s reason for leaving.

Now you have a lexicon of words, a vocabulary of loss of culture and cohesion. The next step is to assess what remains. This step is best taken with the help of a third party, a neutral coach or consultant.

Survey the remaining employees and any new employees on basic measures of job satisfaction:

  • Is compensation competitive? Benefits?
  • Is training adequate?
  • Is the work challenging and rewarding?
  • Do employees have a reasonable level of autonomy and responsibility?
  • How are initiative and excellence rewarded?
  • Is the physical work environment adequate? Are tools and systems in place that improve productivity and reduce drudge work?
  • Do employees feel comfortable talking to managers? If not, why?
  • Do employees feel that management tells the truth?
  • How frequent and relevant are communications?
  • Is feedback used to improve the work environment? Is it ignored?
  • Would you recruit a friend?

Now it’s time to step back and look at what employees and line managers said.

At this point, it’s imperative to commit to, and communicate, intent to change.

  • Communicate results of the survey.
  • Take ownership for the issues, and do not try to deflect responsibility.
  • If something can’t be changed or fixed say why.
  • Create a change action plan with dates, asking employees to help prioritize change items.
  • Implement the change action plan, honoring dates and milestones.
  • Communicate at every step.
  • Re-survey in three months and again in six months, and communicate the results.

Then tackle the hardest part:

  • Assign team leaders and give them responsibility and power to enact change. Support them (or they may fail.)
  • Meet with team leaders regularly and listen to them. Don’t talk over them or challenge what you hear, listen.

Without thoughtful intervention, a broken workplace culture with disheartened people can’t really be repaired. This is often the sad truth. Retention and recruiting will fail too. Employees will continue to head for the exits, and customers may even follow.

Take a look here to read about three companies using workplace culture for retention. This is a very useful case study for all to absorb.

What steps would you take to rescue a damaged corporate culture?

IMAGE via Flickr

Workplace Culture Doesn't Fatigue Me: #TChat Recap

It was Q2.

In “Employment Rage”, Howard Adamsky wrote, “Corporate America is not human.” If this is so, does culture really matter?

My answer: It’s not human, but we are and we drive the culture. Top down, sideways, bottom up.

So yes, it does matter.

Sure there were many other responses much brighter than mine (you can read the transcript here), but it’s not the fact corporate America is inhuman or the fact we can overcome workplace culture fatigue in general that bothers me, it’s the fact that we still fight the work/life integration, regardless of how much we discuss the opposite.

Matt wrote yesterday in the #TChat preview:

After all, it’s culture that defines the best (and the worst) places to work…For HR professionals, Recruiters and Executive Leadership, culture is often a top down directive, but the employees are on the front lines, truly defining a corporate culture and create its impact.  Culture’s a lot like meetings and memos: it’s an inescapable, and inevitable, part of the employee (and candidate) experience.

Culture’s a lot like meetings and memos: it’s an inescapable, and inevitable, part of the employee (and candidate) experience.

And at times is sheer joy and fluffy rainbows, while at other times is complete and utter hell.

Like life. It’s inescapable.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Which brings me to my point.

I read an article in Fortune recently (and I can’t seem to find it again online or I would’ve linked it) on how detrimental it is for managers to be friends with their staff.  Or to be friends at all with anyone at work.

I’ve heard the arguments before.  I’ve made the same mistakes before.  But workplace culture is the magic mess we make at home, in the car, in the office, on the phone, with our bosses, with our colleagues, with our customers, with our competitors —

We succeed at work.  We fail.  We fall in love at work.  We breakdown.  We lift each other up at work.  We rip each other a new a-hole.

Just like in life. With all the talk of work/life integration the workplace itself really would prefer to keep a sterile separation.  But that’s impossible.

Businesses will come and go.  Social communities will come and go.

What makes them come alive with culture and commerce is us.

Don’t tell me that doesn’t generate shareholder value.

Here were last night’s questions
  • Q1: In 3 words, describe the culture of your current/recent employer; was it the culture that lured you there or that drove you away?
  • Q2: In “Employment Rage”, Howard Adamsky wrote, “Corporate America is not human.” If this is so, does culture really matter?
  • Q3: What is your definition of “office politics” and how does it impact hiring and retention?
  • Q4:  What tools does your company use to assess “fit” during recruiting; how do these “track” to your culture?
  • Q5: What should CEOs be doing to create and lead a culture that generates shareholder value and what is this “value”?
  • Q6: What should all employees be doing to develop a culture that generates shareholder value?
  • Q7: How would you conduct a workplace culture audit? How often should this be repeated?

Top Contributors:

  1. @talentculture – 223
  2. @meghanmbiro – 118
  3. @KevinWGrossman – 105
  4. @LevyRecruits – 92
  5. @IanMondrow – 89
  6. @ValueIntoWords – 81
  7. @dawnrasmussen – 79
  8. @DinoDinosaur1 – 66
  9. @sbrownehr – 52
  10. @tfklass – 44

Love what you do and work hard every day. And the other way around too.

A very special thank you to Meghan M. Biro (a.k.a. Culture Queen), Steve Levy (a.k.a. Captain Rainbow Fluffy), Matt Charney (a.k.a. Information Superhero), @monster_works, @MonsterWW, everyone else from the TalentCulture Community and all the #TChat participants.

For without them, there is no culture.

See you next week for #TChat!  Next topic coming soon…