Assessing New Team Members: Should we use the MBTI and DISC to predict future performance?

Guest post by Jessica Cella (MATD 2015): Learning and Organizational Development Manager at Leo Burnett Group

We’ve all been there. A position opens up on your team and you have the green light to expand and hire a new teammate.  How do you select the right person? In the digital age, applications for a single open position are often number in the hundreds. While there are tools to assist in scanning resumes to narrow the pool of candidates, the interview process can still be exhausting, time consuming and costly. Many hiring managers lack effective interviewing skills and some have a “blink moment” and decide in the first 30 seconds if they will hire the applicant or not.

Some organizations have turned to assessments to narrow the candidate pool and hire
more effectively. Two fairly well known assessments are the DiSC  (behavior based) and the Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory or MBTI (personality based). Many organizations have tapped into these tools for their hiring practice to the extent that they are hiring influencers for sales positions and avoiding hiring those identified as introverts for similar roles.

Personality-test-pic2When looking for the perfect addition to your team, what you’re really trying to do is predict future job performance. Using an assessment can give an additional piece of information about an individual but it’s a snapshot of a moment in time. Many individuals who fall into a certain quadrant or type can still be successful in roles that differ from the norm. I am a “C” (Consciousness) and an “I” (Introvert), yet I truly enjoy facilitating training sessions and have been told I’m quite skilled in that area. An organization may look to hire only influencers or extraverts for facilitation roles due to their assessment results and be missing out on a pool of potentially successful individuals. As a side note, there is a TED Talk by author Susan Cain that addresses the unique talents of introverts.

Although many organizations are hiring based on test results, the tool developers themselves do not support the practice. The DISC position on assessment is that the tool offers only one data point in the hiring process. MBTI publishers emphasize that results do not indicate success, and use of the test during pre-employment screening is not considered ethical.

These assessments have been proven to add value to an organization and its culture when used appropriately.

Questions:

  1. What do you think is the best way to use tools like the DISC and MBTI?
  2. Should they be used during pre-hiring to eliminate candidates?
  3. Is an assessment just a data point, among many others in the hiring process?
  4. Do assessments only have relevance after a person has been hired, to help team members better understand each other and the culture?
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10 comments

  • This is a very intriguing post. I was so happy to see that you stated, “Many individuals who fall into a certain quadrant or type can still be successful in roles that differ from the norm”. My perspective is that you can us DISC and MBTI to develop a team of diverse personalities so that they can use each other’s strengths to make a cohesive team.

    I personally do not feel that these should be used during a pre-hiring to eliminate candidates. The reason I state this is that my DISC results are a even S and C. BUT as we know we all have all the DISC tendencies in us we may just have one or two that are more prevalent. Depending on the situation, the personalities may change.

    I do feel that the DISC would be betst used after the fact to determine how to keep the person engaged and understand how the group can work together successfully. StrengthFinders is another great example. In their book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, PHD on page 164 they state, “From research it is apparent that people who excel in the same role do possess some similar themes.” Buckingham and Clifton also state on page 165 “Despite these discoveries, however, you need to be careful about drawing too straight a line between a particular theme and a particular role.” So this confirms for me that these types of assessments should not be used in the hiring process.

    Thanks for the great article this is fitting in with our resource module in TRDV 420.

    Regards,
    Peg O’Donnell

  • 1.What do you think is the best way to use tools like the DISC and MBTI?
    At my current job we have used these as team building exercises. Which I love. It allows us to see how we can work together, how we can relate to each other personally, and it helps us to know what each person is bring to the team. I think this is really important especially after a lot of team turnover.

    2.Should they be used during pre-hiring to eliminate candidates?
    I don’t think so. I am really against any prescreen test that doesn’t relate directly to the job being done.

    3.Is an assessment just a data point, among many others in the hiring process?
    I think so. The hiring process allows you to pick up a lot of information about the new hire that they may try to hide. I think it’s always important to be aware of things that may come back up in the future, for example what if a lot of the same personality types join a team and they can’t work together. This would be great info for the ER person helping the team to resolve their issues because they can build interventions using information from these assessments.

    4.Do assessments only have relevance after a person has been hired, to help team members better understand each other and the culture? Yes, I think it would be really interesting to do company wide assessments like these especially for departments that interact with a lot of internal clients. It would help others outside the department learn to interact with them. Which is helpful for companies that have a lot of cross-functional teams.

  • I think these tools are best used once a person is hired, not before. If a person is hired based on their skills then this would be a good tool to then learn how to work with that person best. I think this would be a good practice for those who are hired to learn about new teammates and those new teammates to learn about the new person on the team.

  • Personality tests are only one data point in the hiring process. In an accounting environment a “High D” or a very driven, dominant person might not be the right fit. But truthfully such personalities would probably not chose this profession. I see DISC and MBTI often as a fillers for unclear job descriptions. Wanting to hire the right person, means the hiring manager needs to have a clear understanding of all the different facets of the job as in:
    Skill
    Knowledge
    Experience
    team orientation
    management and leadership training experience
    cultural fit
    Depending on the priorities, some jobs needs a certain skill but others needs a cultural fit as a priority. A personality test can be a helpful tool for both sides to determine a good fit but should not be the only tool to do so.

    Ute Westphal
    MBA Candidate

  • 1. What do you think is the best way to use tools like the DISC and MBTI? In my experience using MBTI can be a powerful tool in creating self-awareness of personality characteristics in supervisors and managers. It helps a leader to understand how their personality meshes well with those who have similar traits and how they may be biases against those whose traits differ. Another benefit with this type of assessment, can be in team-building as it can provide insight on how to interact with a variety of personality characteristics. I do believe these tests are reasonably accurate, as I have taken the MBTI a few times in the past decade and end up with the same results each time.
    2. Should they be used during pre-hiring to eliminate candidates? I do believe these test can have some validity during the pre-hiring phase in certain job roles. For example, I have worked in contact centers that were sales centric. I was a part of an implementation for using a profile analysis indicator called Vangent. We did a long-term review of how new hires performed before and after implementation and found that new hires who had been tested and hired using the Vangent profile indicators performed at a higher level during training and within the first 90 days on the job.
    3. Is an assessment just a data point, among many others in the hiring process? Yes and I think that assessments should be viewed as such. A personality assessment should not be the only deciding factor when it comes to hiring a new employee. An applicant may hit all the right markers on a personality assessment; however a hiring manager should always way the interview heavily as it can uncover behaviors that an assessment just can’t identify. And, although individuals may have inherent personality traits, this does not mean that they cannot be developed to perform in a given job role. For example, if a manager is self-aware they can flex their personality style accordingly to better manage an employee despite their inherent biases.
    4. Do assessments only have relevance after a person has been hired, to help team members better understand each other and the culture? As I mentioned in response to question number three, I do believe assessments can be a useful tool when assessing new hires for certain job roles, such as sales and or customer service.

  • I have taken both DiSC and Meyers-Briggs, and find them useful tools to guide me in my interactions with others in my organization. I don’t think these are tools that should be used to eliminate candidates, but rather to see how they fit in with your team. Kathy, the blog post just after this discusses organizational fit–and I think these tools can be part (but not all) of the process of assessing fit. In fact, if a hiring manager is honest, do we really want folks that are all the same “type,” or is mixing in a bit of variety and diversity (personality and behaviorally) a better idea? I would tend to say that balance is the best goal, and both of these tools are perhaps more useful for individuals to understand themselves and their peer groups.

  • This is a great post! I agree that decisions are often made within a short period of time which can lead to mistakes, as some potentially excellent employees may take time to warm up to the interviewer.
    I think it can be dangerous to use tests to make hiring decisions but that they can be a nice addition to the evaluation process when combined with other methods.

  • I truly love the DiSC profiles. But I don’t think the results should necessarily impact whether a person is hired or not. We have our sales people take the DiSC profile as a key way to guide them as they determine how they tend to interact with others and how they should consider interacting with them. This is such a powerful exercise that our sales people often request extra copies for their partners and in years to come, they will refer back to it and talk about how it transformed how they interacted with different types of people in selling situations.

  • I think using something like Everything DiSC Workplace as part of your onboarding process makes more sense than using it as a predictive tool. It wasn’t created to be a predictive tool, nor was the MBTI. You might be looking for someone who can be more detailed oriented, for example, and think that a C-style would be the perfect find. But that C-style person might focus on some details and be very conscientious, but not be a good fit. You might find that someone with another style, but who is good at putting in the extra effort to watch the details, will better fit the job. Just because you’re one style, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t learned how to flex into other styles when necessary. You can use the assessment to ask for examples of how the applicant has dealt with situations that might be difficult for one with that style. But it’s not predictive.

  • I believe these assessments are best used as tools to understand each other in the workforce. If a manager understands how they themselves and their direct reports or colleagues operate, think, react, etc, then working together can be a much more pleasant experience. Often when people do not relate to each other, you can find they are different sides of the spectrum in these types of assessments. It doesn’t mean either one is better than the other, it just means that we have to look outside of ourselves a little and understand the other person’s point of view.

    Using these for hiring selections to me is not a good idea, because it takes a balance of all types of people with different viewpoints to make an organization work and thrive. If these assessments are used in the selection process to exclude candidates, it could limit the diversity, creativity, thinking, etc. of the organization as a whole.

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