Corporate Wellbeing Asia 2023
Personality test vs behaviour assessment in pre-employment screening
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Personality test vs behaviour assessment in pre-employment screening

This article is brought to you by Fourlead.

Malaysia’s latest job portal, Fourlead, provides practical insights into making smarter recruiting decisions by clearing up common misunderstandings about behaviour and personality (hint: they are not the same!).

One of the common misunderstandings about behaviour and personality is they are the same. No, they are not, and in fact, they are distinctively different. For years, many organisations have used the personality test as part of the pre-employment and interview process. There are more than 2,000 personality tests in the market, and the industry is estimated to worth between US$500m and US$4bn.

What is personality?

The definition of personality, according to WordWeb Online, is "the complex of all the attributes – behavioural, temperamental, emotional and mental – that characterise a unique individual". In most cases, personality covers a wide range of attributes and summarises a person's characteristics. There is a Chinese saying, "three years fixes eighty", meaning a child forms character and personality at the age of three, which remain the same until the age of 80. This implies personality does not change after it is fixed at an incredibly young age.

Since personality does not change after the age of three, then should it be a piece of useful information to gauge a person's fit in a job and company culture? No, because using personality (fixed) data on an ever-changing environment and people will not be accurate. Especially during this point in time when the COVID-19 pandemic has hit global economies badly, most businesses have taken drastic measures and changes to make it through these trying times.

Several studies cite that personality is not the right measure to indicate if a person is well fit or suited to a particular workplace. One of the clear examples is by award-winning psychologist Annie Murphy Paul. She has written about how personality tests are leading us to miseducate our children, mismanage our companies and misunderstand ourselves. She said she wants to appraise workers and students to focus on gauging specific abilities. This gauge can be done more effectively by talking to people, learning details of their past and observing their current behaviour.

Let's take an example. Orisayemi, a nurse in the US, has worked in Emergency Nursing for 30 years to date. She has done well with excellent performance and promotions to her name.

Back in 2000, due to a buy-out, the purchasing company laid her off because there was an incumbent from the buying company. When she applied for the same position elsewhere, she had to take a personality test, but the result stated that she wasn't suited for the job. She did not even get an interview. So, despite her 10 years of experience at that point as a registered nurse, she did not get an interview when she applied with a personality test. What do you think?

Public behaviour is how others see you. Knowing this will help you to improve interpersonal relationships in the workplace. Private behaviour is how you see yourself. Knowing this will help you to create a better job-fit and culture-fit for yourself.

What is behaviour?

Based on what we understand from the extensive and years of research and findings from psychologists – personality does not change after the age of three to five. What changes then? Behaviour – we change our behaviour according to the environment over time. Thus, behaviour can be described, observed, and measured.

According to Oxford, behaviour is how one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others – people. Behaviour also means how a person behaves in response to a particular situation or stimulus – work. To put this in a macro view, how we tend to behave when we are at home, school, or workplace is different. If we were to look into each environment, we deal with both people and work.

Behaviour is highly relevant to the workplace as we deal with people and work all the time. A company is made up of its workforce, and the workforce shapes the organisation culture, which then translates to how people should work and interact in the company – people. An employee's job in the company is to monitor, manage and execute all the tasks and responsibility given to you – work. Thus, at the screening stage, accurate and comprehensive behaviour information will allow the hiring manager to gauge if the candidate is fit for the job and the culture from the behaviour aspect.

According to Professor Robin Stuart-Kotze, there is a set of behavioural demands for every job. Hence, a hiring manager must advise the HR team on what type of behaviour fits the role.

The assessment tool

Fourlead provides free workplace behaviour assessment for both experienced professionals and fresh graduates. The assessment generates two reports – public and private behaviour.

What does this mean? Public behaviour is how others see you. Knowing this will help you to improve interpersonal relationships in the workplace. Private behaviour is how you see yourself. Knowing this will help you to create a better job-fit and culture-fit for yourself.

There are 16 behaviour types in total. The hiring manager has to select one to two key traits for the job.

Dominance (D)
Determined, driving, ambitious, pioneering, serious, and controlling.

Influence (I)
Sociable, optimistic, persuasive, warm, enthusiastic, and charismatic.

Steady (S)
Supportive, loyal, patient, stable, friendly, and passive.

Compliant (C)
Critical, cautious, detailed, accurate, analytical, and tactful

Alternatively, he/she can select based on job specific guidelines as listed below.

Product-centric (D or I)
Fast-paced, outgoing, active, extrovert, optimistic, direct, impatient, and competitive.

People-centric (I or S)
Caring, sharing, relationship, emotions, opened, relaxed, and warm.

Process-centric (S or C)
Steady-paced, realistic, reserved, withdrawn, introvert, indirect, patient, and cooperative.

Task-centric (C or D)
Plan, progress, projects, projects, program, guarded, proper, and specific.

The HR department can use this assessment to assess their current employees’ behaviours to match with their current role. The superior can perform a job-fit analysis efficiently using such a tool. If a task-centric person is doing a people-centric role, it is a mismatch. There are two options for this scenario, a change of the role/specialisation or change of workplace behaviour. If neither is done, there's a potential risk of performance issues or resignation.

Having the right fit is more important than ever now. Sign up to send unlimited invites and track unlimited responses. Visit Fourlead for more information, or head straight here to try out the behaviour assessment.

About Fourlead
Fourlead is a smarter job portal that empowers people to make smarter decisions through transparency.

Photo / Fourlead


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