Two ways to test candidate personality and intelligence before you hire

  • Post published:19/07/2017
  • Reading time:7 mins read

Picture a jigsaw puzzle! Then think about the next candidate you are going to interview. This candidate is like the jigsaw puzzle you just pictured, a human being put together by many different shapes and forms of puzzle pieces.

Imagine for a second that you only have one single puzzle piece and are asked to guess what the complete picture is. Likely an impossible task, wouldn’t you say?

Assessing a candidate’s profile to determine the fit to your hiring needs is not done by just reading a resume once. It’s not done by just one telephone screening and nothing else. It’s not done by a short or one-time in-person interview. It would certainly be a risk to decide whether to hire, or not, if the only thing you did was call a previous employer for a reference check.

But let me tell you, all of the activities above are like single jigsaw puzzle pieces. The more activities (puzzle pieces) you use in your hiring process, the better picture you get of a candidate, and you have tremendously improved the quality of your hiring decision.

I will now give you two more very big “jigsaw puzzle pieces” that you can and should be using when you hire people. Both will cost somewhere between 200 baht to 2,000 baht per person. With that low investment, considering the relatively big impact and help they will give you, it’s really a no brainer.

Psychometric and personality assessment

There are tools that are designed for recruitment, others for team building or group comparison. Here are the must-haves in personality assessments.

  • Choose a normative test that is based on the Big 5 Personality Factor Model; that’s the highest standard of personality test used to support selection decisions.

Normative means a candidate is being measured and compared against other respondents in a combination of weighted norms from Thailand, Asia, and North America.

If it’s an ipsative format, don’t use it for recruitment. And ipsative test compares the person with him/herself. The test forces the candidate to choose what s/he prefers or does better out of the alternatives offered. Like, if you prefer coffee or tea; even you prefer chocolate you must choose either coffee or tea.

  • The reliability scale for a psychometric test must be at least 0.70 (out of a max of 1.0). Ask your vendor for this number on the test you are now using.
  • Choose a system that shows a response distortion metric and to what extent the self-description is honest and accurate.

There are many, some say too many, providers of psychometric assessments. Here are three big US firms that have been in the business for a long time and that you can rely on: AAI Assessment, Hogan and SHL. These extremely sophisticated psychometric assessments provide insight into the fit between an individual candidate and the work culture and environment that a candidate will be working in.

AAI, Hogan and SHL operate in the U.S., which has the highest regulation standards for psychometric tests in selection in the world, not to mention the most comprehensive, strict legal system you can find.

In Boyden, we use the tests from AAI Assessment and we provide the questionnaire in both English and Thai languages. The questionnaire is electronic and available online. It has 240 statements and the candidates need to specify to what degree they agree or disagree with each statement. It usually takes about 40 minutes to complete the questionnaire.

Work styles are presented in the WBI report by 21 personality trait scales that are divided into the Big 5 aspects of work personalities, which are:  Extraversion, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability.

The AAI Work Behavior Inventory test is one of the few that measures the accuracy of the individual’s self-perception (how they see themselves), their self-presentation (how they want others to see them) and response consistency, which provides a measure of how carefully and consistently the individual answered items throughout the questionnaire.  Measures of response fidelity are important as they provide guidance on how accurately and fairly this report represents the individual’s work personality.

Cognitive and IQ test

The PI Learning Indicator (PLI) is one of the most comprehensive tools to assess cognitive ability and mental alertness. Together with a psychometric personality assessment it provides comprehensive guidelines of the individual employee’s capacity.

The PLI test system generates 50 multiple choice questions from a larger pool, dynamically through a question selection algorithm that ensures a balanced mix of question types and difficulty levels. As each test is different it also makes manipulation and cheating virtually impossible.

The 50 questions are divided into three different categories measuring numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning. The mix of questions is designed to address the perception and processing skills of the candidate (what we call cognitive abilities).

The PLI test is time-constrained and allows a maximum of 12 minutes. The candidate should attempt to answer as many questions as possible within this time limit.

For many years, a person’s cognitive abilities have been considered the best predictor of an individual’s pace of learning and, consequently, the individual’s potential to perform on the job.  Many experts and leading companies regard the assessment of cognitive abilities as equally or perhaps even more important than the assessment of personality.

Perhaps one of the most recognized HR gurus of our time, Lazlo Bock who was a Senior Vice President of Google’s People Operations for many years, once said in an interview to The New York Times: ““For every job, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.”

The assessment is administered online and a paper version is not available to reduce the risk of proliferation. The test is available in over 75 languages including Thai and most languages in the Asian region. PLI is a scientifically validated management tool that offers fresh understanding of the individual logical basis that makes people work – and gives you an insight into enabling them to work better.

  • The reliability scale must be at least 0.80 for cognitive tests (out of a max of 1.0).
  • PLI has been reviewed up against other well established cognitive and IQ assessments such as Wonderlic and also Raven and has come out with very impressive correlations thus confirming its validity.
  • Norm Groups have been established at universities around the world.

Over 1,000 companies around the world are applying PLI in their screening, recruitment and talent management. PLI is appropriate for any industry and until now more than a million people have done the test.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.