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  1. 1. Using Personality Test for Personnel Selection Cornelius J. König Saarland Universitywith some slides from Neil Christiansen, Central Michigan University, USA Cornelius König
  2. 2. What is “personality“?
  3. 3. What are personality tests? Self-report measures of preferences, general dispositions, and behavioral patterns Sample items • I tend to shy away from crowds of people. • I try to be courteous to everyone I meet. • My work is likely to be slow but steady. • I often crave excitement. • I work hard to accomplish my goals. Often: “Please answer on a scale from 1 = completely disagree to 5 = completely agree” Cornelius König 3
  4. 4. Which aspects of the personalityof applicants can be measured? One answer: • The “Big Five” • Conscientiousness • Emotional stability • Extraversion • Openness for experience • Agreeableness • An answer given by many scientists Another answer: • Whatever you like to measure • “We customize the test to your needs” • e.g., management of emotions, self-confidence, risk-averseness etc. Cornelius König 4
  5. 5. Which aspects of the personalityof applicants can be measured? (II) A third answer: • Another model proposed by a consultancy • e.g., 4 dimensions resulting in 16 combinations in the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI) • e.g., 16 dimensions in the 16 Personality Factors Questionnaire (16PF) • e.g., 32 dimensions in the Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ32) Cornelius König 5
  6. 6. Which aspects of the personalityof applicants can be measured? (III) A fourth answer: • Some honesty or integrity related scales • “Overt” version: direct questions about integrity-related attitudes and past dishonest behaviors • “Personality-based” version: items measuring a mixture of constructs all thought to be precursors of dishonesty (e.g., impulse control) • Integrity tests have received substantial research attention Cornelius König 6
  7. 7. Do personality tests work? Can we predict performance? The “Big Five” (Salgado, 1997) • Conscientiousness ρ = .25 • Emotional stability ρ = .19 • Extraversion ρ = .12 • Openness for experience ρ = .09 • Agreeableness ρ = .02 For comparison • Mental ability tests (Salgado et al., 2003) ρ = .62 Cornelius König 7
  8. 8. Do personality tests work? (II) What about customized tests? • The negative side • You often don’t know whether they work unless you test it • You need a good job analysis to figure out how to customize it • The positive side • You need a good job analysis anyway! • If you don’t customize, you will likely assess many aspects that are irrelevant!  Actually a common error (Christiansen et al., 2011) Cornelius König 8
  9. 9. Do personality tests work? (III) Tests sold by consultancy • Again, assess only the aspects you need to assess! • Go and ask whether they have data that their test works! • And be critical… Cornelius König 9
  10. 10. Do personality tests work? (IV) Honesty tests • Very recent meta-analysis by van Iddekinge et al. (in press, Journal of Applied Psychology) • Test publishers • As computed by van Iddekinge et al. ρ = .21 • As reported by the test publishers ρ = .27 • Non-publishers • Developed integrity test ρ = .20 • Did not develop integrity test ρ = .10 • Compare this with the medical research literature: We are all humans with vested interests Cornelius König 10
  11. 11. For what decision may you usepersonality tests? My advice: Use personality test as a tool to screen out applicant in the early stages of your hiring process Why this advice? • Why early?  Because administering personality tests is easy and fairly cheap • Why screen out?  Because applicants who don’t get at least mediocre scores in your personality tests … a) don’t have the right personality AND b) don’t know that they should have it Cornelius König 11
  12. 12. Should you worry that applicants fake? Some research findings 1. People can easily fake if instructed to do so 2. A considerable number of applicant will fake • But not all • Maybe a bit less in Europe than in the US and in China 3. Empirically, faking doesn’t seem to be very problematic • “Faking” = actually appropriate self-presentation? Or maybe even a skill? Cornelius König 12
  13. 13. Might you encounter problems ifyou use personality tests? Applicant reactions • Nikolaou & Judge (2007): personality tests are perceived as “okay” • Other selection tools are better, other tools are worse Legal problems • Especially likely if the items are work-related • Work-related items also work better • Plus: participants like them better Cornelius König 13
  14. 14. Common traps Beware of forced-choice measures! Example Most Least DISC question Prefer PreferReceiving attention from other peopleWorking together with others toachieve an aimStanding up for your rightsShowing affection in personalrelationships Cornelius König 14
  15. 15. What’s the problem withforced-choice tests? Because of dependency in response options, cannot be high on all traits One exception: the forced-choice version of the OPQ32 Cornelius König 15
  16. 16. Common traps (II) Establish cut-off scores and don’t rely on narratives! Nanos’ Basic Character “Nanos is extremely stable, sympathetic and reliable, inspiring trust in others easily. He is approachable and friendly, although he is unlikely to give his trust easily and will tend to remain suspicious until satisfied his security is not threatened. Deliberate in thought and action, Nanos is careful and cautious in his approach to problem. He has a deep dislike of change and the unexpected.” Cornelius König 16
  17. 17. What’s the problem test with usingnarratives? Often with no reference to scores or norms Often based on putting people in a “high on aspect A” vs. “low on aspect A” tray • Sometimes, there are more 4 trays Judgments are subjective: “Do I like this person”? Cornelius König 17
  18. 18. Common traps (III) Never assume that there could be something like „too much of a good thing“! • Although this makes intuitively sense… • … researcher haven’t been able to find it for years • Maybe the measurement of personality tests isn’t accurate enough… • … but this will also apply to the test you will use! Cornelius König 18
  19. 19. Take home message Should you use it personality tests or shouldn’t you? • My personal answer: Screening tool If you use them: • Base the use on a careful job analysis • Customize • Beware of forced-choice measures • Use cut-off scores • Be critical before you buy • And: keep track of recent research! Cornelius König 19
  20. 20. Thank youfor your attention Cornelius König ckoenig@mx.uni-saarland.de 20