It's almost impossible to really get to know job candidates through an interview process; there's not enough time, and all parties tend to be on their best behavior. That's why CEOs sometimes turn to personality testing to determine whether a candidate has the right stuff. But such tests often chill the recruiting process. For some people, questions about personality traits are invasive and obnoxious and just plain creepy.
"I've seen a job candidate begin a management assessment test, sit through it for 10 minutes, and then get up and walk out of the room," says John Binning, associate professor of industrial and organizational psychology at Illinois State University, in Normal, Ill.
Of course, not all test questions offend -- and offending a candidate may not be such a bad thing, if it helps you discern whether the person is right for your company. But in this still-tight labor market, small and fast-growing businesses need talent. And applicants don't always take a shine to having their mettle analyzed. "I can't imagine testing somebody for the really hot jobs, like programming," says Roger Sommer, head of the employment committee at the Society for Human Resource Management, in Alexandria, Va. "They could just walk down the street and get an offer from some other company."
Veteran recruiter Karen Danziger of the New York City-based Howard Sloan Koller Group (HSKG) agrees that many candidates find testing loathsome, but she doesn't believe it's all that chilling. "Generally, people turn their nose up at it, but they do it anyway," she says, adding that she's never seen a candidate drop a job prospect simply because of a test.
Personality tests "are dying in popularity" anyway, says Danziger. But at least one of her colleagues can sympathize with those recruits who have blanched when asked what kind of tree they'd like to be. "I actually was given one of those tests once," says fellow HSKG recruiter Scott Ritter. "I didn't understand what all the testing was for, and I never found out the results of it. I don't recommend that employers use them."