The Good and Bad About Psychometric Testing


Imagine if, before going out on a first date, you ask your date to do a psychometric test to ensure that you are compatible and neither of you is wasting the other’s time. Only someone truly desperate to go out with you would be willing to do the test. Anyone who knows they have value would lose interest in the entire relationship at the first mention of it.


But if after many dates, you said to that other person: I think we should take this relationship to the next level, but a DISC will help us understand our strengths and weaknesses so that we can better understand each other, the compliance rate would be much higher. Why? Because the other person has a vested interest in finding out if there is a good fit before proceeding to a higher level of commitment. That interest doesn’t necessarily exist right at the beginning.


Many of our clients request a DISC assessment, and sometimes, they put way too much emphasis on the results, even before meeting the candidate. Here’s what you need to know: there is nothing in an assessment that could possibly outweigh what a “real” interview can determine.


What is a DISC assessment?


In case you’re new to the concept, a DISC assessment is a psychometric test that measures four behavioural traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. The profile that results from a series of questions can provide an independent, unbiased review of a person’s personality traits and behaviour. The report can help determine:

  • A person’s motivations and how well they respond to stress or conflict.

  • A person’s ability to problem solve and ‘think on their feet’.

  • A person’s innate skills when it comes to conflict resolution, sales, customer service and more.

A client recently asked if he could ask someone to do a DISC before the interview. Here’s what I responded with:


I’m not against using DISC as part of the recruitment process, but where it is leveraged, within the process, makes a huge difference. There danger of relying on a DISC assessment to accomplish the first round of narrowing down your list is that you will miss out on people who don’t do well with tests.

I’ll give you an example: some people have a learning disability where they can’t fully understand written questions or struggle with choosing a multiple-choice answer. But in conversation and day to day activities, this disability doesn’t manifest. Eliminating a person from consideration based on a test is the surest way to miss out on some wonderfully skilled candidates. There is a sixth sense you get when you meet with someone who “speaks” to you. That gut feeling can pick up on the potential that someone has; potential that a test wouldn’t pick up. A few years ago, I presented a Realtor with five candidates for an interview. My least favourite, whom I actually advised against, was the one she hired, based on his DISC report. Three months later, she was really unhappy with this hire and didn’t think he fit the DISC report that she had reviewed, so she had him redo it. His results the second time we completely different. People can lie on the testing. They can choose what they think you want to hear and that will skew the results. I’ve been recruiting for 18 years and can attest to the fact that there is nothing more powerful than learning the real art of conversation and understanding character through speech. If you rely primarily on a test to narrow down your list of candidates, I’m worried that you will lose out on a lot of amazing people. Ultimately, I would always take a resume over a DISC report, and I would always take a conversation over a resume. So if you follow that logic, a DISC test is a ‘nice to have’ that can round out the picture you already have of a candidate, but it should not be the first step in your hiring process. If you need help with those first steps, give us a call!


SOURCE: Ceilagh MacIntyre | Recruiter | Client Care & Marketing Specialist

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