Customer Contact Strategies Blog

Psychometric Testing Tools - Employers are Split

Posted by Michele Rowan

October 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Personality tests can predict on the job behaviors, or they are intended to.  And the use of them in customer service jobs is rapidly expanding.  60-70% of prospective workers are tested by US businesses today, doubling its use from a decade ago, according to a September article in the Wall Street Journal.

Psychometric testing can be an extremely valuable tool for assessment and selection, by adding science to a mix where previously there was none.  Leading up to this decade, most businesses pretty much relied on background checks and interviews to make employment decisions. While both have high impact, less information is available via background checks today, and interviews can be quite subjective. Translation:  the risk for hiring mistakes is mounting.

So including a third pillar to the process by collecting a snapshot of cognitive abilities, personality type, customer service skills and other traits can create a really balanced approach to the hiring process.  Many businesses like IBM, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, and McDonalds utilize them.

But there is growing scrutiny alongside the rise in utilization, particularly around effectiveness and fairness. The EEOC is investigating whether personality tests discriminate against people with disabilities.

Perhaps we should examine the point at which personality tests are administered.

Many companies place the testing process at the very beginning, in an attempt to streamline the entire application process. Personality testing comes at the same time that people are learning about the job, and the minimum qualifications.

And other businesses ask applicants to take the personality test later  - after they've learned about the job, and the minimum qualifications.  Applicants read about things like specific responsibilities, working hours, shifts, work days, minimum levels of experience, special skills.  And they either opt in to continue on (acknowledging they meet the described minimums) or they opt out - on their own - because they discover they are not a good fit. 

Only after applicants self-select through the minimum gates, is the personality test then offered.  Why does this make a difference?  It saves everybody time, it reduces the risk of testing people that may not meet minimum qualifications (through their own de-selection) and it saves companies money, because fewer people are tested, and fees are based on started/completed tests.

Testing companies want employers to test everyone, but it doesn't mean it make sense for you business.  In fact, combining personality testing and minimum qualification assessments very early in the process is likely adding to the risk of poor matching, and certainly adding to hiring costs.

We'll have this debate at the Laguna Beach, CA Remote Working Master Class on Nov 12-13.

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