What If You Just Asked Candidates About Their Personality, Instead of Giving Them an Assessment?

Sam Rogal
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When hiring a new employee there is a lot to consider. Most employers will start with the resume which tells an applicant's employment history. This is not the entire picture though. Perhaps a candidate has all the experience and credentials required for the job, but who are they? This is a question that employers have struggled to answer for a long time. How can we assess who a person is before we hire them?

Personality can be a big factor in how a new employee fits into your organization. Even a strong corporate culture can be upended by a few employees who don’t vibe with the company. It doesn’t take much to turn a happy workspace where everyone is getting along into a tense environment where the slightest social mistake can make a team spiral. You want your employees to remain comfortable and figuring out how a person treats others is an important part of deciding whether or not to hire them.

To help figure this out employers often turn to personality assessments. Sometimes in the form of a written or online test, or sometimes a set of verbal questions with multiple choice answers. These are designed to feed information into a computer and have it spit out an answer about who a person is. The issue here is that they are deeply flawed. There are many reasons that these are unreliable; the results lack context, many people don’t know themselves well enough to accurately answer the questions, people can fall into confirmation bias and answer the questions for a person they want to be, not necessarily who they are, and most importantly these tests are simply a shortcut that employers use to get a data-based result that is not accurate and does not take into account real human behavior.

So, what is to be done? Well one possible solution is to simply ask people who they are. Ask them how they would describe their own personality, how they like to work, how well they get along with others, if they believe they fit your corporate culture, etc. And yes, they might lie, but they will more likely lie on a written personality test than they would to your face. People know themselves better than a computer does no matter what test you give them. An experienced interviewer will be able to glean a more accurate picture of who a person is from simply asking them than they could from reading a pie chart from a computer about potential personality traits.

Somewhere along the line of job interviews, employers began to doubt their own abilities to read a person after a conversation with them. Interviewers and recruiters need to once again trust their own eyes, ears, and instincts when it comes to figuring out if a person is good to work with or not. And yes, there will be mistakes made along the way and there will no longer be a computer algorithm you can blame for incorrectly assessing a candidate but a person reading another person will make fewer mistakes than a computer assessing a written test.


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