Hiring new employees is a critical part of any business. For a small-to-medium sized company, though, mistakes can be especially costly. Many companies have begun to incorporate psychological testing into the hiring process to mitigate the risk of making a hiring mistake. But what role should these tests play when hiring key executives?

There are a number of characteristics that contribute to a key executive’s success. Certainly the executive must have the background and aptitude to perform the job. But fitting in with the company culture can be just as crucial to their success, especially within a smaller organization.

Using a psychological test can guide hiring managers towards the types of personalities that would be more likely to succeed within the company. It may also reduce surprises when hiring key people. The structured approach of psychological testing in the candidate assessment process can offer insights into how well a candidate fits the culture and how they will grow within the company. These tests can also point to areas the company needs to be mindful of when hiring a potential executive. Having an objective and professional common denominator in the hiring process also can help to smooth out discrepancies in experience and skill level among hiring managers.

Personality tests are used to determine personality type, values, interests, and skills. They can be a simple assessment of an executive’s type or can be used more specifically to determine “emotional aptitude” for a certain type of position.

Some questions personality tests can help you answer include:

  • Which personality type best fits the job and the company?
  • Will the candidate’s personality traits allow them to grow within the organization?
  • Does the candidate have enough "emotional intelligence" to work effectively in our company?

Most testing reports will address the following topics:

  • General intellectual level and problem-solving style
  • Emotional maturity and personality
  • Interpersonal style
  • Management style or selling ability
  • Decision-making and organizational skills
  • Leadership competencies
  • Ambition and aspirations

Each position has unique needs and expectations. The psychological profile report can address specific position requirements if, prior to testing, the testing facilitator understands the following:

  • Characteristics of the position
  • Core competencies for the position and the company
  • Possible barriers that could confront the successful candidate
  • History of past incumbents
  • Culture of the team surrounding the position
  • Culture of the organization
  • Short- and long-term expectations of the position
  • Possible career path for the successful candidate

Psychological tests can offer important insights about potential candidates. They will not completely eliminate “bad hires,” but if the testing prevents even one bad hire, then it can be worthwhile. One bad hire can cost the company money in terms of hiring expenses, salary, benefits and termination costs. And there is also the opportunity cost of inhibiting the team's ability to execute, and the potential detrimental impact on other company employees.

For businesses that believe that their people are their most important asset, psychological testing to help hire the best team members can be a very worthwhile part of the process.

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