This issue brings you an inside view of Testing personality. Is it really important to do it? Is it actually possible to measure it? How does it work in reality? Does it help you build a better team? You will find answers in this issue. We hope you will enjoy reading it.
To describe the main problem with hiring in just a few lines is actually not hard. You simply hire someone who made a good impression but who does not produce anything of real value. Even worse, you hire someone who secretly destroyed what was previously functioning. Most executives I learned to know have had that experience.
If you are lucky it costs you a few thousand Euros and some lost time; if you have bad luck it could cost you millions or even the survival of the company. How bad it can be is quite unreal until you actually see or experience it.
It is quite accepted knowledge that the higher up in an organization you look, the more devastating a hiring mistake can be, BUT, there are many examples of how a wrongly employed “low-level” employees can wreak havoc and become extremely costly, both financially and emotionally, causing major clients to leave, upsetting the most productive and functioning personnel, creating unnecessary expenses or penalties, etc. That is why professional hiring experts will normally say that there are no unimportant personnel. A real team can be compared to a chain, in which there is simply very little room for weak or unworkable links.
We hope to shed considerable light on this whole area to make hiring in your operation not only safe but also highly effective and profitable. For that to happen, we would like to make sure that you and the people who take care of your personnel and hiring do not have any critical “holes” in their knowledge.
The intention behind this magazine is to bring hiring out of the “gambling zone” and transform it into a rather well-controlled activity. Ideally, the time and attention of you and your colleagues should be on things that enhance productivity and pertinent flows.
Wishing you and your hiring all the best!
Why should we test personality?
“Isn’t it a bit weird to test personality?” Anyone who has ever thought about what personality is and where it comes from might think that way. It is only “weird” when you are not measuring it with the right tools or don’t know how to evaluate the results.
Although personality can appear to be a somewhat “complicated subject”, it can definitely be grasped.
It is not a secret that the way you see a person from the outside is seldom the exact same as what you find on the inside. Each of us has our own idea about how we want to be, how we would like to handle situations and, to a certain degree, also how to comply with what is expected of us. In normal circumstances when we feel okay, we are generally able to fulfill our ideas. But as soon as we run into a surprising, difficult or stressful situation, we are not always able to keep our set standards and we simply react. And those reactions are not necessarily right or appropriate.
When it comes to other people you can see this very easily – we see when they are losing control, when they are not okay, or when they are trying to solve a problem but are actually worsening the situation. It is a little bit more difficult when we are looking at ourselves, as we have a very strong impulse “to be right”, which often gives us a distorted view of ourselves. It is simply not so easy to be impartial toward yourself.
An effective way to understand someone’s personality is to use a test that is itself impartial, one that is not influenced by a certain relationship with the tested person and can “see through” even a strong social mask. In my work, I have used such a test for more than 16 years, and that is why I have decided to share my personal experiences using it, especially those that I feel are very helpful.
To understand yourself
I will not bother you here with details, but when I was growing up I swung between two states. Between absolute enthusiasm, one-hundred-percent activity and creation on one side and melancholic dwelling on the meaning of life and searching for myself on the other. My interest in personality tests back then was solely to understand myself, my strong and weak parts. At that time, I had only run into a bunch of tests that were so “self-evident” that from just the name of the test (example: “Find out how persistent you are!”) I could understand how to answer it to achieve the best possible score. However, this did not fulfil my expectations and, for a while, I gave up on the subject of testing.
Only later did I run into something like this at work. It was the first time I had completed a test with 200 questions as a job applicant, and what was interesting to me was that it was not very easy to assume a certain role, as the majority of the questions were too simple. Because of that, I was even more curious about the results. I was not very surprised because it actually reflected what was typical for me and what I observed in life. I had hundreds of examples of that. Doing the test itself will not change anyone, but seeing something that you sort of suspect, written in black and white, is definitely a big thing. It shows not only WHAT but also WHY, and that is something that will open up new doors for a person. It is up to that person whether to walk through them or not.
Doing the test itself will not change anyone, but the fact that you see something that you sort of suspect, written black on white is definitely a big thing
Even today, when we give feedback from the tests to specific people, we see how they sigh with relief after things are understood. These are not just small things in the area of planning or efficiency at work. In many cases, it is the practical direction of a person towards a solution, that determines whether or not the person will be generally successful.
An effective tool for assembling a team
Please do not imagine that the test will give you all the answers. It is as clear as day that when hiring a person, it is not enough to just check the personalities of applicants. However, I know that each position needs a slightly different set of personality characteristics, which will bring about stable results with ease if they are used in the best possible way. And this is what is wanted. I started to use the tests myself when hiring people and, because I am the type of person that prefers to learn the hard way instead of listening to theoretical recommendations, I burned my fingers a couple of times, which convinced me that it really works. Sound familiar?
For example, at one point my potential assistant made such a good impression on me at the interview – she looked so able, she was very pleasant but very direct. She was not afraid to communicate and walked through the practical exam with flying colours. The test, however, showed great unpredictability and swings in mood and energy. “That’s nothing”, I said to myself, “Maybe she was only in a bad mood”, and I hired her. The first three days were fantastic, and I got the impression that everything was great and the test was wrong.
But on the fourth day, “someone else” came to work instead of my new assistant. She looked like her, but it was like a different person. The energy was nowhere to be found, the mood was at the freezing point and everything she should have known after three days was gone. I was shocked. It was a catastrophe. We said our goodbyes almost immediately. This and a few other similar experiences convinced me how valuable it is to have an independent tool that will warn me about important things I could easily overlook.
I don’t rely solely on the test results when I hire. But at the same time, I know that if I decide to ignore its results then I put myself at risk.
What’s beautiful about it is that there is not one ideal personality that all people should have, like a copy from a copy machine
What’s beautiful about it is that there is not one ideal personality that all people should have, like a copy from a copy machine. We are not products made according to a template, and it cannot be said that there is only one possible ideal. That would be boring.
If we look closely, each position requires a set of strong characteristics if one is to succeed over time. And those characteristics are different for different jobs.
Think of a team as a group of individuals
It goes without saying that working on improving a team will pay back rewards. However, a team consists of individuals, so it is clear that if you improve an individual the whole team will improve. In addition, if you do not know the potential of your team – meaning every individual on it – and you are mostly guessing at what would be good for the team by looking at a few very noticeable individuals, then your attempt to improve the team could be highly ineffective.
When you invest money and time into something, preparation is always a good idea.
By using a test that tells you what each person really needs, the effects are a thousand times better. You do not have to deal later with half of the team being dissatisfied with the content of the training. Instead you will end up with a much more motivated team.
It is as clear as day that when hiring a person, it is not enough to just check the personalities of applicants.
Moreover, in yearly evaluation interviews, the value of the process increases if you have unbiased information about which strong and weak characteristics the person in front of you has, along with which ones are used and which ones are not. From that you can then take advantage of those strong characteristics to create a plan for how the person can be more successful and efficient, as well as how to eliminate what tends to complicate his job.
So, if you are using personality testing for your existing team, then it is very important to give each individual high-quality feedback (that is why it is a good idea to get well trained for it). This is a very personal area, and the employee who receives valuable feedback is going to be much more willing to change than the one who gets nothing. Do something special with this, something they will consider a bonus for themselves, and in this way help your team to be faster, better, more efficient and a bit more proud of themselves.
Although personality can appear to be a somewhat “complicated subject”, it can definitely be grasped. And it is a great idea to understand it more thoroughly, as cooperation with employees then generally gets a lot simpler.
How does the measurement of a personality look around the world
In a situation where companies are putting a lot of effort into keeping skillful people, the subject of testing personality potential is getting more and more interest. The ability to understand people is suddenly becoming a top priority of companies. As we are known for our EXEC U-TEST, which examines personality in detail, we have decided to dedicate this section specifically to this test. And even though this could be a bit one-sided, you will learn some interesting information.
In this issue, we take a close look at the Czech Republic
Since 2004 we have had the unique opportunity of observing the development of the Czech people, especially those who work. With the help of our EXEC U-TEST, we evaluated the personalities of more than 120 000 people in the Czech Republic who were applying for jobs or were employed in Czech companies. Although the evaluation is always adjusted to the needs of a specific position, it also has a basic structure according to traits that enable us to see how the basic personality of the average Czech employee has developed. And we reached some positive conclusions.
The self-confidence level of Czech employees was very low in 2004. Although they had potential, very often they did not believe in their abilities, and did not start some projects mainly due to fear of failure. That situation has improved a lot, and in 2017 the average self-confidence of Czech people rose by 18 points (on a scale from -100 to +100) and is generally moving in a positive direction.
Another development is that, in comparison with the past, more and more people tend to value things other than just material goods. The overall interest in self-improvement, teamwork, relationships, etc. is rising.
How do Czech companies perceive the EXEC U-TEST?
As we have already mentioned above, we will talk mainly about the EXEC U-TEST here and, in light of that, we would also like to show you some results from an independent survey concerning this test.
Although some years ago the University of Oslo took a close look at the EXEC U-TEST and assessed the test’s reliability to be 89%, we were interested to know the viewpoint of our customers in the Czech Republic – those who work with this test on a daily basis as well as those who have seen it only once. To ensure accuracy, a survey was done by the independent agency STEM/MARK and, according to the results of this survey, more than two hundred of the people questioned assessed the validity of the EXEC U-TEST to be 80%.
“When I hired my first employee based on this test he was exactly as the EXEC U-TEST described him. I became convinced about the quality of the test, and we continue using it to this day.”
Pavel Liehman Jr. Executive Director of ProBovin s.r.o.
What we were most happy about is that the survey also showed that 96% of the people questioned would recommend the EXEC U-TEST to their friends from other companies.
How are we worldwide regarding planning?
We took a close look at the average values of each trait for the people tested in thirteen countries around the globe. We looked at the last 10 years of development regarding people’s ability to plan, look toward the future and have ambitions in general (the Stability trait in the EXEC U-TEST).
It is important to mention that we are dealing with average values, which differ for a number of tested people from country to country. However, we are talking about thousands of tests done overall per year – Sweden, Norway, Slovakia, Hungary – or even ten thousand or more tests done per year – Colombia, Russia, the Czech Republic.
We don’t dare draw any conclusion about what could cause those changes; however, notice the following:
- The value of this trait has generally increased (while in 2007 the highest level was 67, ten years later it was 75).
- Although Sweden has fallen from first to fifth place, the Scandinavian countries are still in the top when it comes to planning in general.
- When it comes to planning and looking toward the future, Russia and Taiwan are still lagging behind the others, but regarding the number of improvement points they are in fourth place, with 11 points.
Speed and general use
According to users of the test, its biggest advantage lies in the speed of obtaining results as well as the possibility to use those results for different jobs.
“The tests fulfill our expectations. Other tests do not offer such clarity.”
Pavlina Peskova Vochalova Human Resources Manager at Asko a.s.
Saves time, money and nerves
The majority of the people questioned mentioned that the EXEC U-TEST helps them save time, money, frustration and stress.
“Saves us time, nerves and disappointment. Before we started to use it, I often asked myself, ‘What am I doing wrong that we cannot come to an agreement with a hired candidate?’ After I saw his test evaluation, within a few minutes everything was crystal clear to me.”
Pavel Mudra, co-owner of K2 Finance s.r.o.
Do you want to know more about the EXEC U-TEST?
Contact your local Performia office through www.performia.com
In the work of Árpád Vas, you can see an example where the love of one’s profession is coupled with a love for people. Together with his son, he has already been running the family business with constant success for 25 years, and their biggest advantage over the competition is the approach of their staff. What is his viewpoint on personality testing?
To start, can you give us a short summary of the FAKTUM BÚTOR Kft. Company, along with its mission.
We are a company that produces furniture for children, and we make it specifically to meet children’s needs. Our products can be used by children, from newborn babies to 10- to 12-year-old kids. Our mission is to help parents get the best possible product for their money, to help children develop well, and to provide them with an ideal home environment. It always includes value for money, aesthetics and practicality. Most parents already realize that children cannot grow up among furniture designed for adults.
Does the job strongly demand that you must have not only people who produce furniture but also those who understand the mission, as it is not only wood and screws?
Yes, absolutely. I design furniture myself too. In addition, designers themselves are actual parents; they know parents’ problems with furniture. One of our slogans is: “We make our furniture with such love because we care about our children.”
Can you briefly describe your current position if you take into consideration your competition? What is the biggest difference between you and your competitors?
We are definitely a market leader in Hungary. We exhibit in every sizeable baby-furniture store (e.g. KIKA, BRENDON) in each of the 19 countries where we do business, in every town with more than 50-60 thousand inhabitants. The quality of our furniture this year was also a total fit for the European market; there is also still a lot to be done in the sales area. When it comes to Europe, our products are already in the frontline. The main difference between us and our competitors is that we look at our products from the customer’s and end-user’s point of view.
We are constantly developing, improving and using the latest technologies. It is a big challenge, but it is necessary to follow the application of modern materials and technology. We are able to grow the furniture as the kids grow, and this is what parents and their children really like.
How many employees do you have at the moment?
We are a smaller company. We have 70 people in total, including 4 staff members who work in our own stores. We have 40-50 people in production and 10 people in higher management.
Your company has grown quite significantly over the last couple of years. What do you think is behind your success?
With continuous development, we are able to adapt very quickly to the changes and needs of the market in all aspects (technology, thinking, attitudes), which you can also see in our products – different generations, different habits. We have a brand name and a good reputation, which has a great effect on customers as they believe in our company. We also really pay attention to complaint management and customer service.
This has a human background as well, hasn’t it?
Yes, absolutely. People have always been really important to me and this has its fruits today, because people are returning this treatment. It is an interesting paradox that if you give trust, and people see that you are open and honest, then people try to gain and maintain that trust. I think that in the current labor market you cannot do it any other way.
How often do you look for new employees?
We are almost always advertising, hiring and searching for people for the production area. There is a stronger fluctuation and people are more likely to go and do seasonal jobs – they get a little bit crazy in the summer, and in fall the number of employees always increases. Every two months we are looking for office and administrative staff (including shops, logistics).
When actively hiring, can you give us an approximate number of the people that go through your hands in a month?
It is an interesting question because the CV’s go to Timi, our HR manager, and this is a terribly big number – it could be 100 or more people depending on the job. Timi filters a lot. I only see the final candidates who pass all the previous steps, which means only 2-3 people every month.
You have a license with unlimited access to the Performia online questionnaires. One of these questionnaires is the EXEC U-TEST. What do you use it for?
When we talk about new hiring, we ask the candidate to fill in this test before the second personal meeting. We look at his strengths and weaknesses, and we use them for our questions throughout the interview. We also use the test on current employees, and we look at their current state and how we can help them.
Why did you decide to use the EXEC U-TEST? And what is its biggest advantage for you?
The biggest advantage for me is that I can get to know the candidate much easier and deeper. I can decide much more quickly what job a particular candidate is suitable for. It has happened that the candidate applied for a certain job, we tested him, and then we found another job he could do for us which was more suitable for him.
In your opinion how can a company benefit from knowing its employees’ personalities?
It is most helpful when I can spend enough time and thoroughly study the personalities of employees, so I can communicate and work with them accordingly. Basically, with seventy people there are a lot of qualities and personalities, and I like all my colleagues for something. This is very important. I understand how they operate, so they are an “open book” for me.
In the case of new hiring, I can see from the test their weaknesses, and I know how to personalize their intern program, post-placement and training. It is like a puzzle. In Hungary, it is a very unusual way of managing people.
When you hire a new person, how do you work with the results of the EXEC U-TEST?
I can clearly follow, help and improve his integration, confirm what he is good at and implement him easily within the team. I have a lot of experience in this, so I figure out exactly what I need to be aware of. I can communicate to him the new information in the right way, so he shows signs of relief and knows his function.
Quote in between the text: “Thanks to the EXEC U-TEST results, I can clearly follow, help and improve his integration, confirm what he is good at and implement him easily within the team.”
In your opinion what is difficult when it comes to personality tests in general?
One has to make sure that the candidates fill in the test on their own and do it honestly, and there are some people who do not understand the importance of this. But even if there are negative effects from media (personal data protection, etc.), there are still 80 percent who fill it in, especially when we offer them the possibility of sharing the results of the test with them at the next interview.
Do you have problems finding skillful or qualified people? What do you do to attract new employees?
Yes, for certain positions. It is difficult to find the right people in the specific area where we need experts. This is clearly connected with the lack of training in Hungary. We resolved this situation within the company with internal training.
We also pay a lot of attention to the company’s image. If we need to fire someone or an employee wants to leave, we do the whole process in a correct and honest way, so the company has no enemies. We strive to provide everything (like tools, and a clean and cultured environment) for people, and they feel comfortable in the workplace. This is the reason why they love to come here and spread the good news about the company. We have an intern-employee program as well, so if we announce a position, we talk to existing employees first, and if they bring in a good candidate (and he stays at the company) we reward them. We don’t pretend to be something other than what we really are, and that is also what we advertise.
Performia has a huge role in our recruitment processes, especially the EXEC U-TEST, because it is very useful and has measurable results instantly
What is the thing that helps you when hiring new employees and keeping existing ones?
In selecting, what we have talked about so far. Keeping existing personnel is much harder. We put a lot of work and energy into it. We have an internal post-installation program, and we try to familiarize them with our entire area of operation. With new employees, we have a contract for a trial period. We evaluate their progress every month. After they have been with us for three months, we check what they are able to do. Most of the time, they stay with us.
Performia has a huge role in our recruitment processes, especially the EXEC U-TEST, because it is very useful and has measurable results instantly. I consider Performia training brilliant. It is one of the most applicable and most important leadership tools that can be learnt, and we as managers constantly experience this.
- Árpád graduated university as an agricultural engineer and economist. Before he established Faktum Bútor Kft., he worked as a senior engineer for a company that made wooden toys for kids. Faktum Bútor Kft. was established on the 14th of March, 1994, and operates as a family business today.
- He considers his family to be his greatest success. His children, and the fact that he managed to build a healthy, good workplace.
- In his free time he does a lot of sports, such as squash, yoga, running and swimming. He likes going outdoors, traveling, listening to music and spending time with his family.
Although many people have anxiety before any test of personality potential, we can summarize it with the words of one of our successful clients, who said, “Able people are not afraid to be tested.” We have asked people who regularly use personality testing in their companies about their own experience. It is not surprising that in their mind the synonym for personality testing is a test called EXEC U-TEST, which is the product of Performia.
- In your opinion what has the biggest value for a company when testing the personality of employees?
- Could you give us some examples of situations when you got significant help, or your viewpoint changed when testing a personality?
Name: Lina Patricia Cano Buitrago
Position: HR Manager
Company: Ark Soluciones Arquitectonicas y Diseño S.A.S. Colombia
They use the EXEC U-TEST: for all people who have applied for work since the day they got access to it. They also test their existing employees. They use the EXEC U-TEST frequently, every time their need to hire increases, and on any level in the company: from operational, low-level positions to high-level executive positions.
- The benefits of using personality testing are considerable, since we can predict the behaviour of people who are going to work in our company, which minimizes the risk of hiring the wrong people. We can also predict how the hired people will act once hired. Thanks to the system, I have been able to avoid hiring people who could have been a source of problems in the company.
- We tested an accounting analyst who had been working for us, and we noticed her activity in the test was really high, which was not compatible with the sedentary job she had. We observed that, indeed, she could not stay in her chair for more than half an hour without standing up and walking around the office before going back to her work. I had the opportunity to talk with her, and she told me that even though she was studying public accounting, it was not what she really wanted to do. I asked her what she would prefer, and she told me she’d really like to work in the sales area, since she likes to be in contact with people. Thanks to the test, we were able to detect her discomfort and were ready for her resignation.
Name: Lucie Veverkova
Position: Operations Director
Company: PAS, s.r.o., Czech Republic
They use the EXEC U-TEST: for hiring new employees, and always on existing employees after they have been with the company for one year to find out if there are any changes or improvements.
- We test potential employees 95% of the time, and I see the biggest benefit in the fact that we only invite those candidates for the interview whose personality fits the position we are hiring for and, most importantly, we know in advance what we can expect from them. First, we work with this during the personal interview, and then afterwards we hire them. This means that we know their strong and weak points ahead of time, and then the work itself is simpler. Honestly, I cannot imagine doing an interview without first knowing the test results, because during interviews people can appear very good, and the reality is then somewhat different or, on the other hand, they cannot “sell” themselves but, according to the test and production, they are actually very good. So, the personality tests help us to save some time as we only meet with those selected candidates. On the other hand, that means that sometimes we interview only two or three candidates, which for some people could appear to be too small a sample to choose from.
- A year ago, we were searching for a management assistant for the company. The job varies a lot, and the person needs to finish a lot of cycles and, in many cases, has to push people to get results. We had a lot of candidates, but almost nobody was really passing the tests. So, in about 14 days we had scheduled only one interview with a young lady, who at first sight looked very quiet, not very aggressive, and I personally could not imagine her in this position at all. However, based on the test she was very active, responsible, communicative, and well organized with a strong drive; she simply fit our picture. Based on her answers she was also productive, and the references ended up good as well. We decided to trust the test and everything that Performia teaches, and she has already been working for us for more than a year and handles everything.
Name: Elena Villarreal
Position: HR Consultant
Company: Harlingen Family Dentistry, USA
They use the EXEC U-TEST: for everyone who gets on board – new people, people they want to promote to executive positions, and people who want to change from one department to another.
- Using the EXEC U-TEST really helps me to get an idea about a person, which I relay to the manager of an area. Then he knows how to handle the person better, how to correct this person so the correction really takes place. It also gives me data about the way people like to work – whether they need to be trained first or can be tossed into the swimming pool and allowed to swim. In our area, the training part is very important because we train all the people, so the test helps me to see how to train the person – if the person has a problem learning something, or has fixed ideas, etc. Based on that, I can then warn or prepare the managers and advise them on how to handle it correctly.
- A few years ago we hired a dentist, despite the test results. I was able to see through the use of the EXEC U-TEST that this doctor would not be a good addition to our office. But he convinced my husband to take him on board, and there was also a desire on our side to help this dentist and get him going. My husband invested a lot of time and effort, only to finally arrive at the decision to let this doctor go. The results were devastating, and the majority of the work done by this doctor had to be redone. If we had not listened to him, but instead had looked at and trusted what we saw in the test, my husband would not have wasted two years trying to help this dentist, and even more time working to fix that dentist’s mistakes. We also generally check references on the person regardless of what the test says.
In my experience, it is almost a golden rule that if you cannot receive references, it is a bad sign. Sure enough, we could not get any references for this dentist, and after the fact it was confirmed that this person left in bad standing with his previous employer. I trust the EXEC U-TEST results 100%.
Name: Gerard Barwell
Position: Managing Director
Company: Silverdrop, Australia
They use the EXEC U-TEST: before deciding on the selection of any new staff for the company. They have also tested all existing staff.
- We always use the test prior to making an offer. We no longer hire below a 2.5 score (a scoring system currently piloted in Australia, where 5 is most suitable and 1 is not) no matter our own personal impression of the person or their skills. Those who are above the 2.5 personality score are mostly more willing and easier to manage. Below 2.5 we find more issues to manage than we have resources to cope with. We tried this in the past and realized that it is not worth the hassle in the long run. Team interaction is the key aspect we are looking for. We look at avoiding anyone who might build their own silo. We also look at people’s ability to work independently, as we are a small organization.
- We have recently been recruiting for a technical consultant. We decided that for this process, due to the small number of applicants, we would use the testing after an initial interview. We liked the person based on the interview; the individual seemed open and friendly. We then tested the person. The results were the opposite of what we thought they would be. After having more internal discussion, we realized there were key tell-tale signs from the interview that we had missed. This person was ranked very low, and we were pleased to change our minds and run with the test results. This has saved us from major future issues, and we have since found the right person for our role, and are happy.
Personality is a package of used “solutions” that you had better know about before you hire
“What exactly is personality?” I ask Mårten Runow. “Good question!” he says and I feel relief, because to ask the highest boss such a basic question, when I know he has dealt with it every day for more than 25 years, seems a bit elementary. “Personality is a word that we often use without even fully understanding it”, he continues. What is the real story regarding personality and its testing, according to the founder of Performia and expert in hiring and recruiting people for companies around the world?
One definition which Mårten considers very useful is this: “Personality is a package of ‘solutions’. Life for any individual consists of facing many different situations, including problems. Personality gives you an indicator of which type of solution is used to battle these different situations. Here is one example:
Two individuals are both rejected for a new job they wanted. One of them becomes sad for the next 3 weeks and hopes that someone will develop some sympathy for him and, out of pity, offer him a job, whereas in reality he loses the job he already has (because he stopped doing anything) while still not finding any new job. The other person decides immediately upon the rejection to apply for many more jobs, and two weeks later he has landed a new and even better opportunity. Same basic problem but two very different solutions are employed.” Through understanding personality, as Mårten is saying, we can find out who will use what solution, and that can help us decide who to hire for our team
“At the same time, I want to mention that a person’s solutions (and thus personality) might change over time through experiences, and thus personality is not a fixed condition but can actually change for the better (and sometimes for the worse) over time. Because when an individual finds a better solution to a problem he will normally stick to it”, Mårten adds.
PRODUCTIVITY VERSUS PERSONALITY
Why is the EXEC U-TEST, a personality test that Performia provides as a tool for our clients, a common part of hiring and building teams nowadays, and why have you not been satisfied at headquarters with just checking productivity as a tool for hiring people?
“Because it adds another dimension to the exactness and usefulness with which you can do your hiring”, Mårten explains. “Personality, on the other hand, does not answer the question of who can really produce at a high level. This is confirmed by the fact that you can meet someone who is not necessarily the most rational or simple person to deal with, but contributes massively to the production, while you might meet someone who is very nice and polite but couldn’t accomplish anything really valuable”, adds the expert on building teams across companies around the world.
When we combine it with an analysis of productivity (which is by far the most important factor in hiring) we can then, thanks to the EXEC U-TEST, more easily understand how and in what style this person will work, and you as a manager will get the “manual” on how to effectively manage that person.
HOW COME THE QUESTIONS ARE THE SAME FOR EVERYBODY?
It is true that average personality scores can differ from one country to the next, and it is also true that the average score within a country can change over time. Performia actually follows this development internationally. What is interesting in relation to hiring is that the main characteristics and combinations for a person to be truly successful are very similar. For example, you might find that a successful Hungarian bookkeeper is a bit of a perfectionist, which happens to be the same as in Sweden or even China, as Mårten explains, and this is the reason why test questions are the same everywhere, and the results fit anyone independently of nationality or place of residence.
“Still, the average Russian profile might differ quite a lot from the average South African. You might have to look a bit harder to find really accurate and stable bookkeepers in Brazil than you have to do in Switzerland”, Marten says, speaking from experience.
TEST EVALUATION – A SKILL THAT CAN BE LEARNED
If you know the EXEC U-TEST and you know that our clients evaluate the tests themselves, certainly you have asked yourself several times, ‘How is it possible that the EXEC U-TEST can be evaluated by people who have no psychological or other similar education?’ Mårten has a very simple answer for this: “Because the test is built on extremely logical principles that any bright business person can learn and understand if given the right instructions. Also, the system today gives the evaluator a lot of assistance, so that both the positive and negative aspects don’t go unnoticed”, says Mårten.
“And any person can ‘test the test’ by having people they know very well do the test and then compare the test results with ones own actual experience of those people. If the test results do not match your observations, our recommendation is to not use this system, as it will not be able to guide your decisions in the way you need and want. However, if the test results really do match your observations, it is then easier to trust the results when you test people you don’t know beforehand”, Mårten advises.
TEST YOUR FUTURE PARTNER
To lighten things up a bit, I ask Mårten if he could tell us his funniest experience while evaluating the EXEC U-TEST. “Even though there are many, one definitely stands out. It is about a client from Tel Aviv, who asked our consultant to evaluate the test of her “friend and her friend’s fiancé” to see how compatible they were as a couple, as they were about to get married. The consultant said: ‘He looks like a really simple and agreeable person, while she looks like she could drive a sphinx up a tree.’ The client then said that it happened to be her own test, and her future husband. They got married and, after 4 months, they got divorced because they were totally incompatible.”
You can encounter such stories when evaluating personality. I would summarize this with the words of Lucia Spáčilová: “Doing the test itself does not change a person, but finding out in black-and-white what you suspect, this can definitely be a turning point!”