Using Personality Assessments for Hiring

Using Personality Assessments for Hiring

Assessment-Based Hiring

In addition to hiring safe workers, hiring managers and HR professionals in safety-sensitive industries must also ensure their new hires are engaged and stick with the company.

In the below script, TalentClick CEO and Safety Expert Greg Ford gets out his trusty whiteboard and walks through three steps hiring and HR managers can take to address safety in the hiring process.

Below will help hiring or HR managers that are experiencing:

  • Above average employee turnover
  • Low employee engagement
  • Labor shortages
  • Poor employee fit

Let us know what you think in the comments section!



Greg Ford: Hi everyone, I’m Greg Ford. And I’m here to talk to you about using personality assessments during the hiring process. If you’re a hiring manager, chances are you know how difficult hiring is and you know how painful turnover can be. You hire someone and three months later they’re out the door. The cost of hiring turnover is astronomical (on average 1.5X the annual salary – and that can certainly be much higher for a senior manager).

The problem with a lot of the hiring practices out there is that people use their gut – they think they can read people well and they’ve got good intuition. Well, gut-based hiring has about a 50% success rate. It’s not good. There’s research that shows if you introduce a personality assessment, you can get up to about a 75% success rate. Notice I didn’t say 100% – it’s probably unrealistic. But going from 50% to a 75% success rate in hiring, that’s a 15% incremental gain and most companies will take that all day long.

So, personality assessments have been around for a long, long time – all the way back to the Myers-Briggs 50 or 60 years ago. Traditionally, they have been used for more of those white-collar positions – more administrative, corporate positions. And there are some excellent tools out there. But in the last dozen years or so, there are tools out there that are now more focused for front-line workers in safety-sensitive environment. It’s really interesting to see how these tools have evolved. I’m going to explain how you can use one of these safety-specific personality assessments during the hiring process.

[00:02:00] If you’ve done one before, you’ll know these assessments are done online and typically take about 15 or 20 minutes. We have one that takes about 15 minutes – it’s about 130 questions and it’s called the Safety Quotient™ (SQ™). Often, you’ll get a report afterwards that addresses some personality dimensions. So here’s one example of what you would do when you’re using a personality assessment at the screening stage – this is before you decide if you want to bring someone in or not.



What you can do is you can look at the assessment results and you can look at how someone has scored on, let’s say, this dimension – rule resistance. How defiant is that person? You might know someone that thinks the rules just don’t apply to him and you might know someone at the opposite end of the spectrum that is very accommodating and willing to follow the rules. Another dimension might be distractibility – so that means variability and stimulation and just can’t stay focused. This is the person you might see in the lane next to you behind the wheel of a car who is constantly checking their messages on their phone (and I’m that guy, by the way).

So, opposite end of the spectrum is someone who can always stay focused on the task at hand. Another dimension might be impulsiveness – this is the person who doesn’t quite think through the consequences of one’s actions and will make snap decisions as opposed to someone who is always a little bit more cautious and tentative. Now, these are just a few of the personality dimensions on the safety-specific personality assessment. So, measuring these traits really help identify the soft skills required for the next stage, which is the interview.



That’s what we’re going to talk about now. And it’s not just a general interview – it’s a data-driven interview. Remember how I talked about gut-based interviewing just doesn’t work. You want it evidence-based. Now you’ve got the assessment report and you’re taking that into the interview and instead of asking generic questions such as, “Tell me about your experience” or “Tell me about a time you disagreed with your manager” (I mean these are good questions, you should be asking these things), but there’s other questions you can ask based on that person’s specific personality related to safety.

And they can be things such as, “Tell me about a time that you were not able to stay focused“. If that person’s personality assessment report shows that they’re highly distractible. You wanted them to explain how they can stay focused – they’re overcoming their urges and impulses. Another question during the interview process might be, “Tell me about a time that you disagreed with a rule out there”, because you know that person’s report shows they’re defiant – they’re rule resistant. And you want to know, can they overcome that? How do they handle situations like that. There’s dozens of examples like this, but now you’ve got much more of a data-driven interview. What you want to do when you’re listening for their answers is to listen for things like, “I can’t believe I did that” or “I caught myself taking a shortcut”. You want to listen for them using the pronoun “I” as opposed to the general “You” – “Well, you should be doing this, you should be doing that”.

What that implies is impersonality. They know what they’re supposed to be doing, but they’re not necessarily doing it themselves. You want to listen for that “I”. There’s something called Safety Self-Awareness and the “I” implies they are self-aware – they’re able to monitor their own behaviors. So, I mentioned, for instance, myself – I know now that what I should be doing is instead of behind the wheel of a car text messaging, I put that phone in the glove compartment, the back seat, or I pull over to the side of the road if I have to make a call or text message somebody. So that’s where the self-monitoring and the change in behavior can come into play.



[00:06:00] Let’s look at the third stage. So, let’s say you’ve interviewed someone and you choose to hire them. Now you’re bringing them on board – they’re a new employee. There’s something called onboarding. This is the orientation stage for new employees. What we’re going to do with this is now you’re creating an orientation that is geared specifically for that person. Yes, of course you still want to show them where everything is and all the safety equipment and the PPE and you want to go through the regular training. But you can add a layer on to that and make it specific to their personality results. Now what that does is it creates a more engaging experience.

It definitely helps personalize things – you’re empowering them with that self-monitoring. You’re telling them, “This is what we expect of you. We can’t be watching you all the time. We’re the kind of company who gives you autonomy and power to monitor your own behaviors and choices”. With the personal action plan, you can set goals as well. You can have periodic reviews. You can say in three months or six months that we’re going to review your progress with some of these things. And of course you can revisit the personal action plan if an incident does occur. So, these are some of the steps in which you can actually create a much better hiring program overall with a personalized safety-specific hiring assessment.

So, I’m Greg Ford. Hope you enjoyed this. Take care.