Taking into account potential employees’ personal qualities may be an important aspect of human resource management policies due to obtaining information about the individual characteristics of each applicant. Employers can make predictions regarding the professional growth of new workers and determine the suitability of a particular person for the proposed position in accordance with behavioural, cultural and other backgrounds. In addition, this selection principle requires close collaboration with recruiters, which is also an essential aspect. Nevertheless, despite the convenience of hiring on this principle, one should take into account other aspects, for instance, applicants’ professional skills.
A person can change behaviour in different situations, and it is impossible to predict unambiguously how exactly this or that employee can prove oneself in a particular work environment. Moreover, this selection technique has some limitations, including possible falsifications of test results or the flexibility of a chosen rating system. Thus, the practice of applying personality tests to hire new employees may be one of the tools of a selective programme but should not be the only possible principle of hiring.
Potential Benefits of Applying Personality Tests
Despite the controversy of using personality tests as methods of selecting new employees, this hiring system has some objective advantages. Based on empirical data obtained by systematising information from numerous surveys, many scholars note the convenience of this principle and argue that it can reduce turnover rates in various organisations (Rothstein & Goffin, 2006). Also, according to the authors’ findings, special behavioural traits identified during tests are important criteria that allow employers to verify that a potential employee corresponds with a specific position (Rothstein & Goffin, 2006).
Among these features, willingness to learn, high teamwork skills, agreeableness and other valuable character traits can be mentioned. If hiring specialists resort to such a selective system, this gives them an opportunity to justify the choice in favour of a particular candidate on the basis of objective data collected during an interview or any other form of testing. At the same time, the principle of evaluating specific properties used in the five-factor model traits helps obtain the most important information about an applicant.
The practice of assessing specific behavioural qualities is a convenient mechanism that simplifies the algorithm of testing and allows an employer to focus on the most significant applicants’ features. In academic literature, this approach is called the five-factor model traits, or Big Five, because it includes five key aspects of personality: emotional stability, level of extraversion, openness, conscientiousness and agreeableness (Judge & LePine, 2007).
By analysing these traits, hiring specialists can determine the personality type of a potential employee and draw conclusions regarding the possible admission of such a candidate. This technique is not the only one, but its convenience lies in the fact that it includes the criteria that fit into different working environments. It also facilitates the evaluation of candidates in accordance with the parameters that are essential in any team. As a result, this comprehensive analysis helps select employees based on their individual traits. However, even taking into account the universality of such a model, the results of its application are not always objective.
Potential Discrepancies in the Big Five Model
The use of the Big Five model in the hiring process may be accompanied by biased assessment results and controversial outcomes. For instance, in one of the academic studies, the scholars state that, in some case, openness cannot correlate with work performance due to people’s self-regulated activities and an emphasis on creativity rather than teamwork (Neal et al., 2012). In addition, the authors note that the relationship between some of the five factors cannot guarantee the absolute professional suitability of an employee since additional aspects should be taken into account (Neal et al., 2012).
This statement is logical because personal traits cannot be considered static variables, and an assessment based on a group approach does not always coincide with that in an individual evaluation practice. Findings from academic literature prove that employees with high testing rates can work unproductively, which affects organisational success negatively and creates challenges for the achievement of ultimate goals (Judge & LePine, 2007). Therefore, it is essential to consider the possible causes of the inability to use personality tests as a unified recruitment strategy.
Reasons for Bias
Despite the fact that different models and techniques of personality tests may be applied to a hiring specialist, their results cannot always be considered reliable. As some scholars note, in order to conduct a deep and accurate assessment of potential employees’ individual character traits, organisations need to spend many resources on developing and implementing special programmes (Rothstein & Goffin, 2006).
In case few efforts are applied, test outcomes may be biased and depend on various factors. The measurement of individual qualities is impossible without interaction with the object of analysis, who, in turn, can present either deliberately or accidentally distorted information. In addition, the aforementioned authors note that common practices for measuring personality traits are less valid than other methods for assessing the professionalism and performance of job seekers (Rothstein & Goffin, 2006). This means that for those organisations that promote such a selective strategy, alternative assessment methods are to be employed in order to obtain the most objective and valid data.
Alternative Personality Test Strategies
Since the ultimate goal of any selective practice is to hire a qualified employee with potentially high skills in a particular industry, alternative personality test programmes may be developed. According to many scholars, any measurement of behavioural characteristics should be accompanied by assessing the performance of an applicant based on additional criteria (Rothstein & Goffin, 2006). In this case, the principle of combining two approaches may be relevant.
For instance, interviews with job seekers may include not only answers to questions about character traits but also understandable practical tasks that allow creating a work environment that is close to real. Another valuable practice is the transformation of negative personal qualities into opportunities that are convenient for a company. In academic literature, examples are given of how narcissism can be transformed into readiness for learning and self-improvement, which may be useful in the context of ultimate operational goals (Judge & LePine, 2007). Such techniques can help improve employee performance if implemented correctly.
The practice of personality tests to select new employees may be one of the principles of recruitment policies but not the only approach promoted by companies’ managers. The potential advantages of this technique involve obtaining data about applicants’ individual traits and utilising special tools, for instance, the Big Five model that helps determine the most significant traits. However, such measurements are fraught with bias caused by the flexibility of human behaviour and the risk of data distortion during interviews.
As alternative practices, the combination of several evaluative techniques is possible, as well as the transformation of employees’ negative qualities into those positive for a company. The significance of studying this topic is high in view of the possibility of achieving more valid selection results and identifying possible solutions to the existing problems.