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October 20, 2016

Personalities and Practice Management:

Is a Personality Inventory Test Right for Your Hiring Process?

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More and more practices are looking at using personality tests, behavioral assessments, or predictive tests when it comes to hiring office personnel. According to Dr. Todd Harris, Director of research at PI Worldwide in Wellesley Mass., these tests are about more than qualifying a good candidate for a slot – they’re about making a “multi-level match.” What this means is that a potential staff members needs to fit the job in more ways than just meeting the job criteria.

In order to choose the right testing tool and to get the most benefit from it, offices need to expand their thinking about both the hiring and testing process. Here are seven key points to consider when choosing to use a personality profile in your hiring:

1. Great Providers and Practice Managers Aren’t Always Great At Hiring.

According to Dr. Harris, “The people most confident in their abilities to predict and measure who will be successful at a given company or role actually tend to be the least good at it.” A test can provide perspective, balance, and fairness to the hiring process. When decision makers take the “gut instinct” out of the process, those who are hired are proven in the long-run to make better employees.

2. Hiring Should Be About Needs, Not Likes.

Stephen Shapiro is the author of Personality Poker, a set of tests and exercises designed to overcome built-in likes and dislikes that can color hiring experiences. Providers and managers tend to want to hire people who think like them, but that can be an issue. “Everyone thinking the same way creates efficiencies, but today you want innovation and growth to be competitive,” Shapiro says. Good practice management takes into consideration the differences in personality that may strengthen a team.

3. Testing Can Be A Good Return On Investment.

Employee turnover is a high cost for any practice. Costs associated with hiring and training new staff and loss of productivity can be significant. However, when balanced against the results that testing can give, using personality profiles to help in hiring decisions can minimize turnover significantly. Sorting through the large pool of job applicants is made easier and more effective by using a behavioral assessment tool midway through the hiring process. By hiring individuals who are a better fit and more likely to stay, turnover costs can be cut dramatically.

4. Expert Assistance Is Still Important For Tests.

Anyone can give and interpret a personality test, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Legal concerns are an important consideration, as is liability. This is not to say you need to rush out and hire a Human Resources manager (if you don’t already have one), but rather, consider all the options available for smaller businesses such as your practice from testing companies who now tailor their products to meet the needs of different sized companies. Depending on the size of your office and your needs, you can find a package that best suits your practice at a cost that fits within your budget.

5. Don’t Rely On Testing Alone.

Annette McLaughlin, VP of talent, coaching, and outplacement for Response Co. warns that testing is not a magic bullet. “ . . . there are multiple factors that can impact your performance and you need multiple steps in the hiring process to make an informed decision,” McLaughlin says. Good practice management requires a thorough evaluation.

She includes the following steps: resume, application, interviews (one phone interview, two in-person interviews), employment and credential verification, background check (if necessary), reference check (two minimum), income verification, assessment tool, team meeting.  McLaughlin advises that the assessment or personality test come midway in the process to help in guiding the decision making.


6. Review Options Thoroughly When Choosing a Test.

According to Dr. Harris, a simple checklist can help you determine which test is best for you. Among the factors to be considered are:

A.    What is the assessment designed to measure and accomplish, and how will that benefit my company?
B.    Does the assessment come with an accompanying job analysis tool that allows for the thorough identification of a job’s requirements?
C.    Is the assessment free of bias with respect to the respondents age, gender, or ethnic group?
D.    Is the assessment reliable? Are people’s scores on it consistent and repeatable over time?
E.    Is the assessment valid? Does it effectively predict important workplace behaviors that drive metrics such as sales, customer satisfaction, and turnover?
F.    Is documentation supporting questions the above questions available in a form of a technical manual or equivalent document?
G.    Is research ongoing on these questions?
H.    What are the key “implementation issues” such as cost, time it takes to complete the assessment, data security, scalability across the organization, ongoing support from the vendor, and degree of client self-sufficiency/knowledge transfer?

7. Testing Starts Before, During, And After Testing.

When you decide testing is the way to go, start with your current staff so that you can identify strengths and weaknesses. This makes identifying the test you want to use easier. When you know how the test works, you can better structure your interviewing process, develop more effective questions, and have a better idea of who you are looking for during the interview process. A best practice for your practice management is to identify where your employees are excelling, and look for new employees to buffer the areas that need help. Remember that neither the person nor the job is static, and testing is a guidepost rather than a permanent landmark. Anyone you hire will want to put their own stamp on the the job.

When you are ready to add a new team member to your practice, you may want to consider utilizing personality testing as an additional tool in your practice management tool kit. By identifying the skills and personality traits of your candidates, you can feel confident that you have found the most compatible addition to your team.

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