Get Psyched

Just Another Brick In The Wall

Tom Kendall, vice president of Hire Success, says personality testing should not be used as a litmus test. While it may give you some basic insights, it's not a crystal ball and ideally should be just one small part of a comprehensive hiring process that includes interviews, resumes and references.

Hamilton agrees. "The interview is still the most important part of hiring, and you still have to go with your gut," she says. Today, Hamilton pulls out the test only when an interviewee gives off good vibes. "I'm not going to waste it on the wrong people," she says.

Sanso remains leery of psychological testing. He says it's "faceless" and prefers to bring a potential employee in for a day or two of shadowing-letting the applicant observe him interacting with his staff and vice versa.

If you decide to try psychological testing, first you need to know what you're after. "One size doesn't fit all. Know what you're trying to achieve," Sirbasku says. Next, find an established, certified testing company that has a reputable psychologist on staff. Ask for a list of references, then take the test yourself. If it makes you the least bit uncomfortable or if the results seem questionable to you, keep looking. If you start using a particular test, update it every so often to keep pace with your company's growth and the times.

Finally, if you use testing as a part of your hiring process, don't let it be the determining factor in your decisions. There will always be an enormous amount of information you'll never know about a person, and you can't eliminate all risk. But if used wisely, psychological testing might offer valuable insights about potential candidates that you can add to the decision-making mix. "Every brick in the wall makes it a bit stronger," says Maltby. "This is just another brick." This Web site is maintained by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, an advocacy group that works against abuses, misuses and flaws in standardized testing. The Department of Labor's Web site includes a testing and assessment manual, which offers employers a guide to good testing practices.

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Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog,

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This article was originally published in the January 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Get Psyched.

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