Each year, recruitment-related costs make up a huge chunk of a company’s expenses. Not only can finding the right employee be taxing, but retaining and integrating them is just another worry. OD experts and change consultants are hired to make sure right people feel the right way in an organization. Yet interpersonal conflicts, bullying, discrimination, low motivation and communication problems claim many of the exits. If there was only a sure-fire way to make sure a company hires the right employee for the right job, it would certainly help save huge costs associated with personnel management.
A rather new phenomenon is psychometric testing in recruitment. Personality psychology has been out there and has had its contributions in I/O psychology. It’s only recently that HR managers, OD consultants and churn management professionals have seen its positive effects in organizations. There are many studies showing how it has helped organizations optimize their resources and increase their return on investment on employees.
Many government and non-government organizations have successfully incorporated such programs to make sure they hire and retain the best talent in line with their vision and mission. Today 2.5 million people take MBTI each year, with many Fortune 500 companies using this tool. Taken together, the test and its administration are an industry unto itself, worth around $20 million a year.
Myer-Briggs Type Inventory test (MBTI) was developed by Katharine and Isabel Myer Briggs based on the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. His 1921 book, The Archetype, presented the idea of categorizing people based on a self-reporting survey on personal traits. The answers can then be used to further analyze natural propensities and a whole set of qualified assumptions.
Isabelle created a paper survey to assess human type to assist them in finding their “best fit job” and to discover their talents. This paper survey along with the contributions of thousands of others with their feedback developed into 21st century’s leading personality assessment test. In 1980 their book Differing Gifts: Understanding Personality Type was published posthumously. It became best-seller immediately and became a typology bible for counselors, life coaches and psychologists.
Jung wrote about four basic characteristics of a personality: Sensation, Intuition, Feeling and Thinking. Furthermore, he cited two directions in which these characteristics can develop, namely Introversion and Extraversion. Katharine and Isabelle added perception and judgment to it. With these, following traits can be found in a personality in different combinations.
• Introversion – I
• Extroversion- E
• Intuition – N
• Sensing – S
• Thinking – T
• Feeling – F
• Perception – P
• Judgmental – J
For a person with propensity toward extroversion, intuition, thinking and perception, the personality type code will be ENTP. Similarly, someone found to use dominant functions of introversion, sensing, feeling and perception will have a personality code of ISFP
Assessio is the largest consultant in the field of psychometric assessment and providers of commercial solutions to recruitment. They have a unique standing not only in Scandinavia, but also in Europe. It was started in 1954 by the Swedish Psychological Society, which specialized in the publication and research of the psychometric testing system. The company works with almost all major psychometric and behavioral tests e.g. MBTI, Big Five Factor, MINT, PJP, and Matrigma. The company not only offers help in recruitment decisions based on client needs, it also does the need analysis, appropriate testing model identification, and their execution.
Johan Östlin, product owner at Assessio, is a senior psychologist and has researched type psychology for years. He says, “’Lot of companies think that it will not be beneficial for them but in the long run it is because they look on candidates’ CVs and conduct semi-structured interviews and make decisions based on it without having a solid scientific reason for it and then they are making decisions solely on gut feeling and they get back to starting point because then they have no justifiable reason for making a decision other than intuition.”
The Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT) is the leading institute for MBTI training, publishing, and research in the United States. Its director of R&D Bob McPeek, notes “We have published a book called MBTI Type table for occupation and if I may quote from it, in this survey where 935 bank tellers were surveyed and a disproportionate number of ESTPs and ESTJs are represented in this sector. 61 When you think about it, you can justify it based on the personality traits. EST, the extrovert, sensing and thinking traits, help them interact with people and sensing preference enable them to make systematic and step by step decisions about the loans.”
It is obvious that these tests can be used successfully in screening and hiring the right talent. However, its application goes beyond recruitment. It helps HR professionals resolve intercommunication and team conflicts by understanding personality types and forming complementing teams. Its applications go further than careers and it has been successfully used in marriage counseling and matchmaking.
Like everything, MBTI has its critics. Wharton organizational psychologist Adam Grant criticizes the either/or approach of the system. Thirty years of research show that you can both be a thinker and a feeler; in fact, most thoughtful people also spend lots of time feeling emotion. “When I scored as a thinker one time and a feeler one time, it’s because I like both thinking and feeling,” he writes. “I should have separate scores for the two.”
If you think this is harsh, how about this one. In her scathingly illuminating book The Cult of Personality Testing, journalist Annie Murphy Paul writes that “no personality type test has achieved the cult status of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is unfortunate, given that the 16 distinctive types described by the Myers-Briggs have no scientific basis whatsoever.”
Despite its pros and cons, researchers and practitioners have been very careful about recommending it to anyone. It needs careful assessment and application that needs professional experience and administration. There is rife support for the theory and its practical success has gained it credibility among organizations that utilize the tools but it is as yet not a tool for making judgments and decisions independently. Both its structural and ethical ramifications are in development and it is premature to pin psychometrics down as a promising tool with a measure of certainty.
Minhaaj Rehman is the author of Psychometrics in Recruitment. Contact Minhaaj through www.minhaaj.com.