Psychometrics, or trying to understand personality types and traits have been around sine Victorian times. Today the psychometrics, also known as personality profiles are common place and used across a wide range of HR and Training initiates, including training needs analysis, success planning, talent management, assessing personal effectiveness and most commonly in recruitment.

Trait versus Type Tools

Broadly speaking when it comes to assessing personality there are two main kinds of assessment that candidates sit, Trait and Type based assessments.

Trait based assessments are things likes OPQ32 and Saville Wave, whereby they measure individual aspects of a persons personality, but do not provide a generic description of the person. For example, OPQ32 measures 32 behaviours including outspoken, controlling, detail conscious, behavioural, caring and so on. The questionnaire reports how a person see’s themselves against the 32 words, but does not try to categorise the persons responses into a specific personality type. This allows an organisation to pick, from the 32 words, those most suited to a role and then compare candidates against the words they see as being important.

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OPQ32 Traits

Type based assessments include the well known MBTI and others such as Insights. Like the trait assessments above, they use questionnaires to assess how a person see’s themselves against certain words, but then categorise the candidates responses in to a ‘type’ of person, e.g MBTI uses 16 different letter combinations, so you can have 16 potential types of personality, Insights uses four colours to indicate a person’s preferences. Type based assessments tend to be more useful in development and training activities, but have been criticised as giving very broad descriptions of behaviour that can be attributed to most people – this is sometimes called the horoscope effect.

Using personality profiling in recruitment

From the two options above, the most common tool linked to recruitment are those assessments that are based on trait. Using trait tools enable you to look at the list of behaviours being measured and then pick those that are most important in the role. Once you have selected the behaviours needed you can then compare candidates performance to give you a sense of those that are more like what you need.

In addition to the point above, profiling tools can also add value to the interview process by identifying areas to probe. For example if you have stated you are looking for an assertive character, but the candidates profile suggests they are more inclined to adopt a passive stance in discussions, you can question how the candidate would handle situations involving conflict.

Willerby Hill are experts in the use and interpretation of personality profiling using some of the worlds most reliable assessment tools including OPQ32. MBTI and Saville Wave.