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HUMAN RESOURCES

The Smart Way to Test Candidates

Before you dole out psychometric exams, you'll want to be aware of the law, learn how to prevent cheating, and find the right test for your company.
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Increasingly, companies are turning to personality tests to vet candidates. 

This is partly because resume fraud ran rampant at the height of the recession, when some people desperate for work lied about everything from their college education to employment history. Personality tests, though imperfect and viewed by some as discriminatory, can help employers cut through the bull and find dependable workers. 

Ben Dattner, adjunct professor at New York University for organizational psychology, recently outlined some tips in Harvard Business Review to help employers use personality tests more effectively--and legally. Before you start sharpening pencils, read his useful suggestions.

Know the law.

Make sure you're familiar with anti-discrimination laws, the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act, and the legal compliance of personality tests. To prevent offensive or discriminatory questions (and lawsuits), employers should always use the latest version of a test. Some, like the MMPI-2, have been updated to do away with discriminatory questions. However, you should know that you cannot legally diagnose an employee's mental condition, and his or her test results cannot inhibit future opportunities. Also, you should never post an employee's test results online or ever share them with anyone. Those results are meant to be private and job-specific. 

Ward off cheaters.

This isn't a middle school take-home exam. Administering personalty tests is an official matter. Make sure you have candidates take the test at the office with a proctor. And to prevent "gaming" or any misrepresentation, be sure the results match up with the references and resume. 

Give the right test.

For a personality test to be effective, you need to first know how to measure performance for the job for which you're hiring. "If an organization doesn’t have quantitative measures of employee performance on the job, then there is no basis for statistical correlations of how well psychometric tests predict performance," Dattner writes. As an example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was not created for hiring purposes.

IMAGE: Shutterstock
Last updated: Sep 13, 2013

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported in the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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