5 Myths About Behavioural Assessments (and why every employer should be using them)

Posted on March 20, 2019 by JamiePickup | Recruitment

Behavioural assessments can make people edgy.

On the one hand, people are inclined to dismiss them as distant cousins of things like phrenology and graphology. On the other hand, people worry that they’re being judged by some strange standard they don’t understand.

Even the description has to be handled carefully because certain words act like triggers. That’s why we say “assessment” instead of “testing”, and why “behavioural” is often preferred to “psychometric”.

However, the only thing to be concerned about when it comes to behavioural assessment is NOT using it when running a recruitment campaign. These simple assessments can be incredibly helpful at increasing the accuracy of your hires, and in the long run can save you tens, even hundreds, of thousands of pounds.

And if knowing their benefits doesn’t convince you to start using them, it’s probably because you believe one of these five myths (stick around to the end because I’ll be sharing the results of my own personal assessment to prove they’re nothing to stress over):

Myth #1: Behavioural Assessment is Junk Science

There was a “game” knocking around some years ago where you had to construct a picture from a collection of items. The finished result was a house with a path, a gate, and (ominously) a snake. The idea was that based on your choice of path (crooked or straight), number of windows (two or four), location of the snake (inside or outside the garden), and so on, it was possible to construct a personality profile.

Of course it was complete rubbish.

There have been many games of this type and, like horoscopes, they rely on making statements that are just broad and vague enough to seem believable without actually saying anything meaningful.

Behavioural assessments are NOTHING like this.

They’re constructed by clinical psychologists and are backed up by years of research. The best and most popular providers of behavioural assessment tools typically have decades of data underpinning their processes.

And unlike the myriad of so-called “personality tests” you can find on online, the results are specific and measurable.

Myth #2: Behavioural assessments can be tricked

Behavioural assessments usually work by asking the participant to describe their own strengths and weaknesses as they understand them AND how they believe others perceive them.

There’s nothing vague, surreal or metaphorical about the questions. Depending on the assessment type, they describe specific areas of a person’s work and how they prefer to operate.

But that doesn’t mean they can be easily duped.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that if the person being assessed wants to come across as a good manager, all they have to do is describe themselves as an outgoing, empathetic people-person. It’s more complicated than that.

It’s common for a behavioural assessment to repeat questions at various intervals using different measures and descriptions. If someone is trying to “game” the assessment they’ll inevitably end up giving contradictory answers because it’s hard to be consistent.

And when someone gives a lot of contradictory answers, this is flagged in the results.

Myth #3: Behavioural assessments are prejudicial

This feeds back into the false assumption that behavioural assessments are some kind of test that can be passed or failed.

The results – an example of which I’ll show you in a moment – produce a personality profile that, as you would expect, come with strengths and weaknesses.

For example, on the McQuaig behavioural assessment, one of the scales is sociable on one end and analytical on the other. Those personality traits are neutral in that they’re neither good or bad in their totality. Rather, both have strengths and weaknesses.

A very social person, for instance, might be great at integrating into a team and perform well in a management role, but might struggle with work that requires a lot of attention to detail. On the other hand, a very analytical person might revel in the details but find it easier to work individually rather than part of a team.

A social person isn’t “better” than an analytical person. Or vice-versa. But where someone falls on that particular scale can indicate how comfortable someone will be in a particular role.

Myth #4: Behavioural assessments don’t work for certain positions

If you’re hiring for a role that is new to your business, it’s true that identifying a target personality profile can be tricky (although not impossible), but that doesn’t make behavioural assessment useless.

One of the benefits of these assessments is that they provide valuable information on the best way to train and develop that individual. Understanding what makes your new employee tick can take time to figure out. A behavioural assessment can give you a framework starting out that makes your new hire feel comfortable right from day one.

Myth #5: Behavioural assessments are expensive

It’s actually more expensive NOT to use behavioural assessments.

Hiring someone who leaves within a few months is a massive disruption to the workplace, and the cost in terms of lost productivity, salary and repeating the recruitment campaign can easily run to 5-6 times the annual salary of the role.

However, if you spend a little extra now on assessing the candidates on your shortlist, you can increase the chances of hiring the right person, first time around, and save yourself a huge amount of wasted cash.

To demonstrate how effective behavioural assessments can be in improving employee retention, I’m going to share my own results.

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This is only the summary (the full report runs to many pages and includes development ideas, as well as suggested questions to ask during my job interview), but it shows why I left my previous role and ended up working for GrassGreener Group.

The chart on the right represents my actual personality model, whereas the one on the left shows how I was behaving in my old job. On two of the scales I was acting in a manner that wasn’t typical or comfortable for me.

Almost everyone who completes one of these assessments winds up with two graphs that are slightly different. But the more the two graphs diverge, the more likely it is that the person is unhappy in their job. In this example the differences weren’t major, but they were enough that, over a long period of time, I had started to feel dissatisfied in my role and keen to look for something new.

It was only after completing this behavioural assessment that I was able to pinpoint exactly what it was that prompted my career change.

How does this help you as an employer with a vacancy to fill?

There are many different ways, but one method is to create a job survey for the role you’re trying to fill. This will give you a baseline against which to measure the candidates that apply for your position.

If, for instance, you have a candidate that is well-qualified and experienced, but who’s personality type is very different to your baseline, this is the kind of situation that can result in a new hire leaving after just a few months because they didn’t fit with the company culture.

On the other hand, if someone is well-qualified and experienced and has a personality type that IS close to your baseline, it’s far more likely that this hire is going to stay in the role in the long-term.

Critically – NONE of this is speculative.

GrassGreener Group use behavioural assessment as part of our recruitment process. As a result, 96% of the candidates we place are still in the role after 12 months.

Behavioural assessment when used alongside other assessment and interviewing techniques produces MEASURABLY better results.

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When it comes to recruitment, nothing matters more than finding a candidate who is sufficiently skilled and who is so happy with their new team that they stay in the role for many years.

Behavioural assessment isn’t something to be feared. It’s how you can increase the efficacy of your recruitment and keep costs and business disruption to a minimum.

To find out more about how GrassGreener Group™ can save you time and money on your next recruitment campaign, and to see if you qualify for a FREE McQuaig Behavioural Job Survey worth £199, you can email me at jamie@grassgreener.co.uk or call direct on +44 (0) 113 230 5555

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