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Tests not a silver bullet

by Miki Saxon

Read a deja vu article Sunday on how companies are, once again, using personality and other tests to take the guess work out of hiring decisions. Tests to determine intelligence (can you think—not do you bother), skills (can you do the job—not is it really of interest to you), personality (can you fit in—not will you want to); the same old arguments pro and con—and, of course, the lawsuits are already flying. What really got to me was something new, “…two groups are creating MRI technology that they say shows “hot spots” on the brain when someone is lying.” Wow, using that test should really pad legal wallets on both sides!

I know tests first hand. I had to take a personality test when I applied to Management Recruiters (now MRI Network) in the late seventies. The test said I couldn’t sell, wasn’t good with people and should be a writer. Fortunately (I needed the job), the manager went with his gut, hired me anyway, and for the next twelve years I was in the top 10% (of around 2000 MRI recruiters) nationwide.

When will companies learn? Tests may not a total waste, but they aren’t a hiring silver bullet.

  • A great personality doesn’t make a person synergistic with the culture.
  • Intelligence guarantee creativity or innovation.
  • Having the skills to do a job doesn’t mean the person really wants to do that job.

Staffing should be a core competency in any company. Too bad they don’t invest the same time, effort and money that’s spent on software and recruiters teaching their managers (at all levels) better recruiting and hiring skills. The pay off would boggle their minds!

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