How Testing Can Help You Nail Your Next Hire
Bob McSherry clearly thinks the personality test he uses for hiring at his auto body shops is effective.
“I took one for myself and it explained me perfectly,” says McSherry, owner of North Haven Auto Body in North Haven, Conn. “This is you on paper.”
He began using an assessment for potential employees years ago, he says, aiming to understand candidates’ learning styles and how they interact with others.
Over time, though, his use of the assessments fell off, leading to a string of what he calls “tough hires.”
“I just think you need to find the one you like and go with it. Because if you’re not testing you just do not know what you’re hiring.”
—Claudia St. John, president of Affinity HR Group
“There has to be a better way,” McSherry says he remembers thinking, and with that, roughly two years ago, he reinstated the personality test and hasn’t looked back.
While such tests and assessments can offer insights into how potential hires think, there are factors to consider before you dive in and begin using them to hire at your shop.
There are many types of tests on the market—not all valid or useful for hiring—and using them incorrectly could have legal ramifications. Beyond all that, just how much stock should one put in a test, especially when you’re used to hiring by gut instinct?
Which test to use?
At least one of the best-known personality tests, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, isn’t valid for hiring—it’s too broad.
That’s according to Claudia St. John, president of Affinity HR Group, which provides human resources support for automotive industry businesses. Still, “there are a gajillion behavioral personality tests out there” that are valid, she says.
Both St. John and McSherry make use of TriMetrix HD, an assessment created by TTI Success Insights. The assessment looks at an individual’s behavioural styles, personal motivators, acumen, and competencies.
St. John says her firm boosted its recruiting retention rate for other businesses from an unacceptable 70 percent, to 93 percent using TriMetrix HD.
That rate does the job.
“For us, that’s plenty, because stuff is just going to happen,” with the remaining 7 percent of hires that don’t work out, says St. John.
TriMetrix can be most useful for mid-level and higher employees, says St. John, noting there are other assessments better suited to less complicated jobs.
“I just think you need to find the one you like and go with it,” she says. “Because if you’re not testing you just do not know what you’re hiring.”
Once you’ve found a test you like, you need to make sure you’re applying it in a way that won’t lead to legal troubles down the line. Using a test that isn’t valid could also create liability, says St. John.
Darrin Murriner, co-founder and CEO of Cloverleaf, a team-building and micro-coaching program, says that just like any other hiring tool— background and credit checks, etc.—assessments must be applied equally to candidates.
“Don’t worry about it as long as it’s part of a broad-based hiring or selection process,” he says.
How much weight to give it?
McSherry says the assessment isn’t make or break for candidates, at least not always. ”It’s made me not hire some people,” he says.
Under more normal circumstances, the test is another part of the hiring process.
“It’s a pretty cool tool—I’m old school; you always lead with your gut,” says McSherry, a fan of the New York Yankees. “It’s just like baseball. Analytics are a great tool and [the assessment] is a great analytical tool.”
The HR professionals agree, saying that it’s only one piece of the hiring puzzle, though they don’t agree on what proportion it is of the complete picture.
St. John says the assessment results should make up one-third of your hiring decision—the other factors are a candidate’s experience and how they showed up for the interview (as in, did you like them?).
For Murriner, a behavioral assessment should only make up 20 percent to 25 percent of your hiring decision. He says skills and competencies and experience, coupled with how the interview process went, and the results of a skills test (ask the candidate to produce something), should be given equal weight.
No matter how much weight is given to testing, remember that no potential hire is a sure shot, no matter the assessment’s results. McSherry says, in his experience, the wildcard is a candidate’s life prior to an interview or assessment.
“I honestly think the report nails how people think,” he says, “but there’s no report that will come up with what happened to that person that morning.”
Personality tests aren’t free, but McSherry says they’re well worth the money. He uses a firm that charges him $300 per TriMetrix HD assessment.
“‘That’s crazy, this is too much money,” he says imagining someone’s reaction.
“But think of what the costs are training this person” who, three months down the line proves to be a bad fit, he asks. “Three hundred dollars is [a drop] in the ocean––it’s nothing.”
Murriner says assessments can be used in other ways during the hiring process, mined for questions for interviews, for instance, and can also have life after a candidate is brought on. He says that so much goes into the hiring decision but there’s much more after—career and development plans, for instance.
All that you learned in the hiring process, assessment information included, says Murriner, “can be translated to make sure that person can be successful after they’ve been hired.”