Alphabet Soup: A Cautionary Note About Using Myers Briggs

Anyone who follows hiring trends knows that personality measures are gaining popularity as a tool for helping organizations make better hiring decisions. The good news is that decades of research has shown that the use of these tools can have a variety of positive outcomes including reduction in turnover, increased productivity, and better fit between employees and their work environment. The bad news is that there are literally hundreds of different personality instruments out there, many of which are simply not suited for use within most hiring processes. Even worse is the fact that many consumers are unaware of the differences between these tools, and thus frequently end up using the wrong tool for the job. This does not mean that the majority of personality tools available are inherently “bad,” but it does mean that they must be used in a manner that suits their characteristics. There is no better example of the above situation than the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI. The MBTI is one of the most heavily used personality instruments available and has been applied in hundreds of different ways over the past few decades. While the MBTI may be perfectly suited for many of these applications, selecting employees is not one of them. A closer look at the origins and composition of MBTIs should help me clarify this point. What Is the Origin of the MBTI? Adventure Associates provides a good summary of the origins of the MBTI:

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a self-report instrument that helps to identify an individual’s strengths and personality preferences. The mother/daughter team of Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers developed the MBTI. They based their lifelong work on Carl Jung’s theories about psychological type preferences. Jung’s book “Psychological Types,” published in 1921, studied ancient and modern cultures. The premise of his work was to discover how normal human beings take in information and how they make decisions. He also studied two core mental functions relating to how people get and expend their energy. After reading Jung’s work, Myers and Briggs devoted themselves to bringing the everyday applications of this work to the general public. Myers developed the pen and pencil test in the 1940s. They tested it on friends and family during World War II, hoping to resolve conflicts and help match people to appropriate work. It took over 20 years to fully develop the instrument. Myers and Briggs added a forth dimension to Jung’s scheme, focusing on how people deal with the outer world. They determined that each person has an external orientation towards orderliness and decisiveness (judgment) or towards new information and going with the flow (perception). MBTI is one of the most widely used personality instruments in the world. Its ease of use, high statistical validity, and reliability make it one the most respected personality instruments that exist. The test/retest measurement is very accurate; in 75% of cases, individuals will test the same in three of the four dimensions. Over 600 dissertations have been written on the MBTI and there are well over 1,000 articles and dozens of books. An average of two million people in the United States takes the MBTI each year and it has been translated into more than 30 languages.

The above information makes a very strong case for the fact that the MBTI is a legitimate personality measure. I have no argument with the facts presented above and tend to agree that the MBTI is well researched and useful in many situations. In order to evaluate its utility as an employee selection tool, however, one must look a bit more closely at the information the MBTI actually provides. What Does an MBTI Tell Us? The MBTI classifies individuals along four theoretically independent dimensions according to how they see the world. Each of these dimensions is a continuum with a letter anchoring the two endpoints. The dimensions and their endpoints include: 1. Energy

  • Extraversion (E): Gets energy from people, activities, objects. Likes to interact.
  • Introversion (I): Gets energy from ideas, emotions, impressions. Likes to concentrate.

2. Attention

  • Sensing (S): Focuses on facts. Practical and proceeds step-by-step.
  • Intuition (N): Focuses on possibilities. Theoretical and proceeds in leaps.

3. Decision-Making

  • Thinking (T): Makes decisions according to a logical system based on consistent principles. Believes in justice.
  • Feeling (F): Makes decisions according to a value system based on a desire for harmony. Believes in compassion.

4. Lifestyle

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  • Judging (J): Proceeds towards goals in an organized way. Likes to make plans and come to decisions.
  • Perceiving (P): Adapts to life in a spontaneous way. Likes to gather information and keep options open.

The result of the MBTI assessment process is that the test taker is provided with a four-letter description of who they are relative to their placement on the continuum created for each of the above dimensions. Thus, depending on her score on these four scales, the test taker falls into one of sixteen personality types (e.g. INTJ, ESFJ, ENFP, etc.). These four letters theoretically describe how the individual deals with the world and creates assumptions about how she will interact when dealing with others. For instance, someone who is an INTJ type may be classified as follows:

INTJ types, being original thinkers, have a vision of how to do something better and persevere in trying to persuade others that they are right. They do have good organizational ability, but they think they can improve everything. Indeed, unless the thinking or judging dimension is strong, there is a risk that the introverted intuitive (IN) person will be absolutely convinced he or she is right, even when wrong. Difficult problems fascinate them; routine jobs are considered a waste of time. INTJs make good scientists. They are not easily directed but will consider new facts and other opinions when carefully presented. They tend to be skeptical and critical, frequently not considering other peoples’ feelings as much as they should.”

Each of the 16 types has a variety of similar descriptions attached to it. These descriptions can be used for many different purposes. What Is The MBTI Good For? It is obvious from the above example that the MBTI helps provide a great deal of insight about an individual and the manner in which he or she may react in specific situations. This is very useful for helping people understand themselves and how they tend to view the world. It can also help people understand others with whom they interact and provide ideas to help promote more effective interactions. It is important to note, however, that the above information is more “clinical” in nature. That is, these are things that are best suited for coaching individuals, helping them to develop based on self understanding and providing a very detailed understanding of what drives themselves and others with whom they interact. The MBTI is immensely popular, having a large number of devotees. However, this popularity is not necessarily based on any specific utility that these tools provide but rather on the fact that people love to learn about themselves. The MBTI is very intuitive and the results are relatively easy for most folks to understand. The results offer a fun way for people to better understand themselves, and classifying others offers an explanation for why interactions with certain individuals often turn out as they do. Why the MBTI Isn’t a Good Tool for Employee Selection Despite its popular appeal, its pedigree, the thousands of research studies in which it has been used, and the insight it can provide, the MBTI is simply not suited for the majority of employee selection situations. Here’s why:

  • It is a clinical tool. Proper use of the MBTI for making selection decisions requires expert interpretation and judgment. It is actually used quite successfully by some clinicians for the purpose of high-level executive selection. However, this type of selection process is often quite different from that used for other jobs. It is different because it utilizes a clinical model, in which experts who are trained in the use of the MBTI and a variety of other tools collect a large amount of data from a candidate and use their experience to complete an evaluation. This model is simply too labor intensive and expensive to be used in most hiring situations.
  • It is cumbersome to use. Despite the ease of interpretation of the MBTI for individuals, it is very hard to use this tool across large groups. The idea of categorizing everyone with whom a perspective employee will interact and trying to stop and determine how they will fit with each person based on their type simply does not scale. The tool also does not function in the aggregate. That is, it does not support the creation of a type that can describe collectives, such as an organization or a group of people within that organization.
  • It is hard to link directly to key job related behaviors. This is the litmus test for any personality measure that is to be used for the purpose of employee selection. The more closely a selection measure can be linked to specific elements of job performance, the more effective that measure will be. The inability to clearly link early personality measures to job performance criteria was identified as a serious shortcoming and effectively killed the use of these tools as selection measures for several decades. The past few decades have seen the evolution of a new breed of work-related personality tools that have been developed with the major components that describe performance at most modern jobs in mind. Unfortunately, the MBTI is not one of these, and this is the biggest reason why it should not be used in most employee selection situations.
  • There are better tools out there for achieving the same results. There is a reason none of the major assessment providers are using MBTI tools for employee selection purposes. The reason is that there are a variety of tools that are better suited for the task of systematically measuring work-related aspects of an individual’s personality and comparing the results to specific job requirements.

The bottom line is that personality measures can have tremendous value for employee selection. But part of this value lies in making sure that you use the right tool for the job. This requires that organizations do their homework in evaluating potential tools and seek an expert opinion when unsure of the relevance any specific tool may have for their needs. The contents of this article represent my opinion on this subject. I do not claim to know everything and make an effort to remain open minded to ideas and suggestions that may help me learn. Please feel free to contact me with any personal opinions on this subject.

Dr. Charles Handler is a thought leader, analyst, and practitioner in the talent assessment and human capital space. Throughout his career Dr. Handler has specialized in developing effective, legally defensible employee selection systems. 

Since 2001 Dr. Handler has served as the president and founder of Rocket-Hire, a vendor neutral consultancy dedicated to creating and driving innovation in talent assessment.  Dr. Handler has helped companies such as Intuit, Wells Fargo, KPMG, Scotia Bank, Hilton Worldwide, and Humana to design, implement, and measure impactful employee selection processes.

Through his prolific writing for media outlets such as ERE.net, his work as a pre-hire assessment analyst for Bersin by Deloitte, and worldwide public speaking, Dr. Handler is a highly visible futurist and evangelist for the talent assessment space. Throughout his career, Dr. Handler has been on the forefront of innovation in the talent assessment space, applying his sound foundation in psychometrics to helping drive innovation in assessments through the use of gaming, social media, big data, and other advanced technologies.

Dr. Handler holds a M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana State University.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drcharleshandler

 

 

 

 

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27 Comments on “Alphabet Soup: A Cautionary Note About Using Myers Briggs

  1. The publisher of the MBTI (CPP) indicates that the MBTI is not a selection tool, see http://www.cpp.com/products/mbti/index.asp#app. Why would an employer take the legal risk of using the MBTI for selection when the publisher says it is not a selection tool? How many employers use the MBTI for selection? Employers should verify that the test publisher will defend them in court should they be sued for using their assessment.

  2. As a qualified MBTI practitioner I think that it is also important to point out that the MBTI is designed to guide an individual in determining their type. An on-line assessment, without coaching in interpretation may incorrectly assign a type.

  3. The Hartman should NEVER be used for hiring. If you don’t believe it, call the test publisher (not the salesperson) and ask for proof that it was developed for predicting job performance.

  4. The Hartman Value Profile is not intended for selection – even on their Web site, there is no mention of selection. If you are considering a commercial and ‘non-customized’ product for selection, you must only consider those that indicate they may be appropriate for that purpose (selection/hiring).

  5. I’ve used the Hartman and it’s been very helpful in selecting employees. Actually, their website does mention it’s usefulness in selection and the employment attorney for our company said it was legal to use as a selection tool as we have also been provided with the relative reliability & validity data for it’s ‘job relatedness’. I love it because it’s easy to use and is very accurate.

    Following is information from their website that states what it’s designed for:

    The Hartman Value Profile is especially useful for the following purposes:

    Executives, managers, and employers responsible for others will find it useful:
    for discovering the strengths and weaknesses of their associates and potential employees,
    for identifying areas where additional training may be needed;
    for building work teams and groups,
    for measuring group morale and spirit,
    for determining suitability for promotions and job reallocations,
    for retaining existing employees and hiring people who are likely to stay in their jobs, thus cutting down significantly on replacement and training costs, and
    in accident prevention

  6. Hi John –

    The HVP can be used for discovering strengths and weaknesses (if those are competencies that reliably predict performance in your employees), but that is not the same as using the tool to make a hiring decision.

    In my experience studying assessments and their uses in the workplace, this means you may want to consider the results of this assessment as you develop a training program or management/coaching plan for a new hire rather than for making a hiring decision…but if your legal team says it’s OK for you to use, I won’t argue!

    Best,
    Victor

  7. We are having trouble figuring out how to implement this. I’m wondering how recruiters and managers use this in the real world.

  8. OOO-KAY….

    We have a difference of opinion here. May I suggest this could be a great opportunity to make a point:

    1) Here is the EEOC’s opinion about vendor claims (41 CFR 60-3.9) –

    Under no circumstances will the general reputation of a test or other selection procedures, its author or its publisher, or casual reports of it’s validity be accepted in lieu of evidence of validity. Specifically ruled out are: assumptions of validity based on a procedure’s name or descriptive labels; all forms of promotional literature; data bearing on the frequency of a procedure’s usage; testimonial statements and credentials of sellers, users, or consultants; and other nonempirical or anecdotal accounts of selection practices or selection outcomes.

    2) Here is the EEOC’s opinion about validity:
    (41 CFR 60-3.5)-

    Evidence of the validity of a test or other selection procedure by a criterion-related validity study should consist of empirical data demonstrating that the selection procedure is predictive of or significantly correlated with important elements of job performance.

    3) If your attorney suggested the Hartmann was acceptable for hiring, may I suggest you ask for your money back and find a new attorney who knows the provisions of the Uniform Guidelines.

    4) Regarding the Hartman Instrument…Dr. Hartman’s son and I spoke a year ago. He specifically told me his father’s test was not intended for hiring and that he would not sell to customers who misused his father’s instrument.

    Now, before anyone suggests that the Guidelines only applies to adverse impact, may I suggest they are also BEST PRACTICES because they lead to better-skilled employees.

    Free advice…. Forget the snake oil, go to the library, read a book on personnel psychology, and find an expert to help implement a system that works.

  9. We don’t use the Hartman to make our hiring decisions for us (i.e. pass or fail). Secondly, even the MMPI can be used for selection, although it wasn’t developed for that specifically (you can find an article regarding the courts decision on this that came out in May of 2004 in the daily labor report published by BNA, Inc.). This is the decision regarding Karraker v. Rent-A-Center.

    We’ve conducted internal benchmark studies and produced from that core competencies for each role we use it for. The results of the profile provide an interview guide to guide us in the interview. This has been extremely helpful in providing guidance to our recruiters. We’ve actually seen a large drop in turnover since implementing this into our process.

    Here’s some information that you’ll find helpful, Kay.

    SUMMARY OF UNIFORM GUIDELINES IN EMPLOYEE SELECTION PROCEDURES (1978)
    CFR TITLE 29, VOLUME 4 SECTION 1607, ET SEQ.

    The CFR guidelines apply to tests and other selection procedures which are used as a basis for any employment decision, including hiring, promotion, demotion, membership, referral, retention, licensing, certification, training or transfer. 1607.2(b). The guidelines are not intended, nor should they be interpreted, to discourage use of a selection procedure so long as it has been validated in accordance with the guidelines for each purpose for which it is used. 1607.2 (c)

    If the use of any selection procedure has an adverse impact on the hiring, promotion, or other employment opportunities of members of any race, sex or ethnic group it will be considered discriminatory and inconsistent with the guidelines unless properly validated. 1607.3 (a)

    An adverse impact is determined by the 4/5ths rule. A selection rate for any race, sex, or ethnic group that is less than 4/5ths of the rate for the group with the highest rate will generally be regarded as evidence of adverse impact. 1607.4 (d)

    When developing assessment tools, employers may rely on construct validity studies. Evidence of the validity of a test or other selection procedures through a construct validity study should consist of data showing that the procedure actually measures the degree to which candidates have identifiable characteristics which have been determined to be important in successful performance in the job [emphasis added] for which the candidates are being evaluated. (For example, the ability to type well is important for a secretary.) 1607.5 (b)

  10. Victor makes a good point about using tests for development. However, unless test scores are hidden from hiring managers, I suggest it will be hard to keep people from using them.

    If the HVP, or any other test, uncovers coaching needs during the hiring phase, why hire the applicant in the first place?

    Ignoring vendor claims to the contrary, there is little, if any legitimate research (replicated and peer-reviewed) to show that people significantly change their behavior as a result of either feedback or training–very discouraging.

    Hire in haste — repent at leasure.

  11. The concept of validity generalization seems relevant to this discussion. Validity generalization has probably been the greatest advance in the area of industrial psychology in the last thirty years and is an acceptable practice under the Uniform Guidelines. In the near future the Executive Director of the Association of Test Publishers and I plan to submit an article on pre-employment testing, which will discuss this concept further.

    As for the MMPI-2 (update version of the original MMPI), this instrument is frequently used for pre-employment testing for safety-sensitive jobs (e.g., public safety officers, flight crew), but its use is inadvisable for other positions. This doesn’t stem from EEOC issues, rather the litigation has generally been based on the doctrine of invasion of privacy. Note, given the fact that protections for invasion of privacy vary from state to state and from public to private entities, there are certain inconsistencies in the law. It is important to note that the Rent-a-Center decided to fight its use of the MMPI in Illinois, while in California these same allegations against Rent-a-Center (Staples v. Rent-a-Center) were quickly settled.

  12. My thanks to you, David, for personally weighing-in on this issue. There is so much bad information and silly test practices in the marketplace we could use more than one ‘voice in the wilderness’.

    Wendell

  13. Just reviewed another interesting article on ERE written by Michael Harris The Cult of Personality: Rethinking the Use of Personality Tests for Hiring

    http://www.erexchange.com/Articles/default.asp?CID={4ED47926-B4DD-4741-AC7E-465232BBB840}

    The thing I find interesting was a comment he made –
    ‘The book provides some interesting information, particularly regarding the lives of the authors of some of these tests. According to The Cult of Personality, for example, Isabel Myers, the author of the famous Myers-Briggs test, had no formal training in psychology or test construction. The man who developed the Rorschach Inkblot Test, Hermann Rorschach, may have died of heartbreak from the failure of his test to gain wide acceptance. You will also learn that Starke Hathaway, the creator of the MMPI, sometimes wore shoes that didn’t match and frequently came to classes with grease stains on his clothing.’

    He goes onto mention that a large number of people fail the integrity test, and there is also a disproportionate number who have false positive.

    I remember a client who would not even interview individuals based completely on the results of the test that I had candidates take prior to ‘interview’. Some excellent candidates with proven successes were dismissed – Funny thing was the reason the position was open was due to the former employee ‘who had taken the test’ was staying home watching Soaps rather than work, was not strong in sales, and managed poorly. He did know how to pass tests well though…

  14. Patsy,
    very good question – Dr. Williams, in another string you had brought up a similar statement.

    Is it possible that most training provided by companies is based upon lectures, discussion groups, videos and such like – they do not show proof of working because there is nothing like the hands on performance on the job training, as the old saying goes knowing is doing, getting rid of old habits. It is also difficult for individuals to implement what they learnt via a motivational speech into their day to day work duties.

    But, when I consider for example the excellent behavioral training provided for example Six Sigma Business Excellence, NLP, NeuroTek’s Proven success with their development of Peak Achievement Training which was created to align with their business needs, with specific desired results – Xerox, and Motorola have had documented success with performance training as well…

    So I wonder – does it generally come down to the individual themselves, or how the training is performed or a mixture of both, especially when participants are not held accountable for their results?

    Could it also not be the companies fault because they did not help create an environment in the workplace that would accommodate and facilitate what the participants learnt, and the management team does not provide further training, reinforcement, feedback, information and support to the participants who had been trained?

    Could it also be that the companies do not provide training based on the environment, the job function, the people who work in that particular job description, and the direct relation to the job skills needed that they seek? Would it not be a fair assessment that if training was more targeted and tailored to the audience intended that the participants receiving the training would be more flexible, happier and productive?

    What have you seen to be the causes for non success for training of employees?

  15. Well, for one thing…there is limited literature examining effects of training on incompetent people (i.e., people without the requisite core skills for the job). At least I have never seen any.

    We generally find organizations measuring training ‘effects’ based on pre and post-training knowledge tests. (Kirkpatrick’s Level 1-2) But this measures ‘book’ smarts, not behavior change.

    Most of us already ‘know’ the right way to do things (without attending a training program), but we often are uncomfortable doing it. Take, for example, the manager who refuses to confront employee problems or techies who refuse to get along with other team members. Attending a training program seldom changes either behavior.

    Training may enhance skills that someone already has…but it seldom ‘grafts’ on new skills. A salesperson with good discovery skills, may get better at discovery by learning a few more techniques; but a salesperson who believes mostly in ‘the pitch’ is unlikely to show any change at all from attending the same program.

    The root cause is our personal ‘behavioral comfort zone’..introverts are very happy being introverts and extraverts are very happy being extraverted…Regardless of workshop impact, neither one is comfortable acting like the other. (Scientists have tracked many behaviors back to infants…giving rise to a strong genetic effect).

    I often ask people if their spouse has behaviors they would like to change …even simple ones …in most cases they just roll their eyes and say they gave up trying to change them long ago.

    The only time I have seen training effects (the kind that change behavior, not impart knowledge) is when: job competencies are clear, people are selected on those competencies, training is done within each competency, the manager supports and encourages the competency, and the employee is rewarded on the competency.

    As to multi-rater feedback…the literature shows it tends to lose effectiveness over time. Nasty people tend to stay nasty and nice people tend to stay nice. This is probably due to the comfort zones described above. In the Kirkpatrick model, it confirms why Kirkpatrick Level 3-4 effects remain as rare as tap-dancing chickens.

    I like to look at training this way:
    suppose skills range from 1 (none) to 5 (average) to 10 (total expert)…If the job requires a ‘5’ and the person enters as a ‘4’ then training and serious coaching might help…but if the job requires a ‘6’ the person may never make it. Just ask a trainer if they have ever been able to ‘train the untrainable’

    You can review research on training effects in any good university library…

    Wendell

  16. One more comment: There are two general types of interpersonal skills training: behavioral modeling and behavioral modification.

    Modeling is the ‘monkey-see-monkey-do’ approach. It usually is produced by someone who follows people around, making a list of stimulus-responses they can convert into a training program. It is characterized by ‘say this when you hear that’. Lower employee levels seem to prefer modeling (Level 1-2, anyway). Xerox selling skills and SPIN selling are good examples.

    Modification is deeper. It attempts to help the person understand what is happening between the stimulus and response (i.e., psychological activities). That is, what prompted the stimulus, what prompted the response and what was the consequence. Wilson’s counsellor selling and is a good example of this approach. Modification is better accepted by managers and professionals (Level 1-2).

    The research I have read (and the programs I have delivered) show both produce similar (weak) results when people don’t arrive skill-ready.

  17. Dr. Williams-I found it interesting your comments that research shows that training and feedback do not change behavior. Can you direct me to any outcome studies on this subject? Is there any research that indentifies what method does change workforce behavior?

  18. Karen,

    People can change behavior. However, to change behavior you have to find the root cause of the unwanted behavior, which is the thinking that misleads the person to make poor decisions and causes us to have ‘blind spots’. If you address the unwanted behavior at the source, change can occur and the unwanted behavior is neutralized. Here’s a book with real examples cited on how this concept has had positive and measurable results in the workplace.

    http://www.cleardirection.com/books/default.asp

  19. Thanks for your answer Dr. Williams, I do have another question to run by you..

    In a nutshell you are saying that it is difficult for a leaopard to change its spots. That training could only work well only if the participant is personally motivated.

    Ok, Partially I can see your point there, if a person is burnt out within an organization, and does not feel the desire for the company, training would not be able to penetrate.

    But again, does that not come down to the company. Should not a company look within themselves to find out why their employees have lost their fire and burn for the organization, and find ways to bring it back, is it not their obligation to their employees, if one is feeling the lackluster, there will be many others as well.

    Personally though I find it difficult to believe that people cannot change. If one looks at rehab programs and the successful individuals who have gone through recovery, one can see a distinct behavioural change. An improvement in selfesteem and self worth is one of the largest factors that contributes to this change.

    Most problems in the work place are generally situational or brought on by fear, beliefs, expectations, attitudes and habits. Drugs and Alcohol issues top the list, and programs can eliviate those problems, and a test would not be able to determine that problem. Secondary would be family issues, and of course there could be issues within the organization that is causing distrust and fear.

    Which brings us back to if you improve the work environment, allow training to be focused on the individuals specific functions, allowing the workplace to be modified for the participants to be able to apply the training, allow training to be hands on, with consistent follow up by managers would that not bring out a positive outcome?

    If you want real change, you have to understand the barriers that prevent workers from changing their behavior or performance

    If the individual in your example was having difficulty with employees, should not the employee find out what was causing the situation. Understanding personal problems and issues can make for a more productive workplace – does it not?
    Expressing honest and sincere appreciation, Praise and a simple ?thank you? are powerful tools for creating a sense of pride in the work place as Dale Carnagie has Shared many years ago.

    If we hire people via testing and some faked the test, do we just keep firing and rehiring rather than to look at what we have within, and try to focus on how to improve?

  20. This article is truly on point with respect to the use of the MBTI. If users check with the publisher of the MBTI (Consulting Psychologists Press), they will receive the same message. In fact in the last month, a representative of Consulting Psychologists Press made the following statement to the press: ‘… while the assessment [MBTI] can help companies develop team-building and self-evaluation tools, it shouldn’t be used for hiring’.

  21. One other question – you stated ‘based upon the research you have read, and from the programs you have delivered, show both produce similar (weak) results when people don’t arrive skill-ready’

    From the information that was gathered, was there much research done on what happened at the office after training?
    Were the researchers able to determine what managers or the company did to improve the environment to accomodate the training and such like? (without repeating myself here)

    It would be interesting to know how the follow up to training has been implemented in an organization, especially considering how much it costs just to provide training to an employee.

  22. WeLLL..

    There is a politically correct (but common-sense incorrect) belief in our society that anyone can become anything they want. If is were true, we would all be movie stars, astronauts and very rich.

    What does this have to do with Rehab? Rehab tries to put something ‘together’ that was once ‘whole’. The Rehab goal is to help people reenter society as ‘productive’ members…not change them into something they never were (or don’t have the skills to become).

    Patient, ‘Doctor, will I be able to play the piano after the operation?’
    Doctor, ‘Of course!’
    Patient, ‘Good! I always wanted to play piano!’

    (Remember, even the best rehab programs have high recidivism rates).

    John suggests people can generally change behavior. He might even have some personal examples. However, my personal observation as a senior manager (10 years), head of training (10 years) and consultant (15 years) is the complete opposite.

    You might look into some good OD books for a solution to the productive manager/environment question…But, OD is a long and painful process.

  23. Good Doctor,

    Here are some examples you’ve asked for:

    Example A
    A manager was very direct, blunt, and insensitive to his direct reports, which caused, as you can imagine, a lot of turnover under his control. The training program I referred to in the book I mentioed has helped this person ‘clearly see’ his ‘automatic’ responses and the negative impact it had on his group. Approx. 60 days into this particular training program he is now more personable and more sensitive to the needs of his people and is building stronger relationships with his people. Turnover in his department is now zero.

    Example B
    An individual working with money and a lot paper work, which was very detailed in nature, kept making mistakes in their daily paper work and money count. About 3 weeks into this training program this person is now our most accurate and detail-oriented person in this particular role in our company. Their organizational skills have improved dramatically.

    People can change, however, they have to ‘clearly see’, or have accurately diagnosed, the source of their problems in order to correct them. Additionally, they have to want to correct the problem.

    The problem is, not many professionals or training programs can accurately diagnose the sources of the problems, they tend to focus more on the symptoms and not the sources, which is the person’s thinking.

    Lastly, I was surprised at your statement: ‘If the HVP, or any other test, uncovers coaching needs during the hiring phase, why hire the applicant in the first place?’

    People are people, and as such, we all have needed coaching or development that is required. Hiring isn’t black-and-white, it’s not absolute. Good hiring is not hirng the ‘perfect’ person, it’s hiring the ‘best’ person for the job in question.

  24. Thanks John for your excellent responses. You made a good point that a person must want change, where comes another question, does it also not come down to the company again for that as well..

    When I am motivated, and enjoy the culture of the company I work for, the strength of leadership, the ability of the organizations to elicit a sense of commitment on the part of workers, and its development of a sense of shared goals, if there is a reward system, it will influence job satisfaction and I will want to do the best for My Team, and would even ask for training to hone my skills.

    Dr. Williams, your views do concern me as well. It seems that we forget that people are human. We are not all perfect candidates, nor are we infallible.

    Mr. Williams it is a known fact that how I feel about myself or my abilities will change year from year, or even day to day.. How I may do on a personality test based upon my current emotions, stressors, or anxieties will affect the outcome of the results. Does that mean that I cannot perform or do the job, maybe not well that day, but not on the norm. Yet Next year/week/mth If I am in a better place emotionally my scores on that test will be significantly different.

    In business everyone may have a burnout stage at work, personal problems may crop up when they least expect, new systems may become implemented where the individual may not have much strength. Sudden Company changes may cause internal stressors.

    I am not suggesting that psychometric and ability tests are not a good idea, but to utilize these tests as a predominate source of hiring, or to depend totally on their results without using a variety of other methods in your selection process is probably not a good idea?

    Personality tests should usually be considered in conjunction with other information, as the results can obviously be unreliable. They also should be used to help your current employees to become better employees as well, by effectively measuring the key candidate characteristics that influence job performance, and helping them find ways to improve..

    A significant amount of research (United Kingdom Dept. Labor) has been done on how reliable various methods are. A summary of research on how well methods predict future job performance shows that, where perfect prediction is 1.0, the following selection methods score as follows:
    ? Assessment centres promotion (0.68)
    ? Work samples (0.54)
    ? Ability tests (0.54)
    ? Structured interviews (0.44)
    ? Integrity tests (0.41)
    ? Assessment centres performance (0.41)
    ? Personality tests (0.38)
    ? Unstructured interviews (0.33)
    ? References (0.13)
    Taken from the employers organisation for local government UK

    Combining many of these factors would definitely be a strong contribution of a good hire

  25. The research cited in Ms. Mattonen’s post is quite consistent with the overall research on the predictive accuracy of pre-employment selection methods. Probably the most comprehensive and scientific analysis of this research can be found in the 1998 edition of Psychological Bulletin. The article titled ‘The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel
    Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 85 Years of Research Findings’ was written by two of the most highly recognized individuals in the field of industrial psychology (Drs. Frank Schmidt and John Hunter). This article reviewed the evidence regarding 19 commonly used selection tools and concluded that work samples had the highest predictive validity (.54), followed by general mental ability tests–referred to as ability tests in Ms. Mattonen’s post. Additionally, the article concluded that when combining selection methods, the most practical and accurate pairings were: 1. A general mental ability test combined with an honesty test (.65) and 2. A general mental ability test combined with a structured interview (.63). Parenthetically, it is important to note that while the highest possible validity coefficient of 1.00 means that prediction is perfect, other coefficient values are not as straightforward to interpret. Thus, a coefficient of .65 does not mean a selection measure is accurate 65% of the time. Additionally, the misguided practice of squaring a validity coefficient (.65 x .65 = 42.25) to compute accuracy rates is inappropriate as well. True predictive accuracy is dependent on a number of variables (e.g., cut score, validity coefficient), but it is safe to say that higher validity coefficients are typically associated with greater degrees of accuracy.

    While it is certainly axiomatic that greater degrees of useful information gleaned from a variety of sources (e.g., interviews, tests, background checks, simulations) lead to the best employment decisions, certain administrative, operational and economic considerations mandate that not all applicants be completely processed. In these situations, it is particularly important to be familiar with the information contained in the Schmidt and Hunter article. As an aside, the Executive Director of the Association of Test Publishers (Dr. William G. Harris) and I have just submitted an article to the Electronic Recruiting Exchange, which discusses the legal, practical
    and technical issues surrounding testing.

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