19 November 2018

Simple color scales lead to failed recruitments, here are the tests that actually work

In September, the book Surrounded by Bad Bosses, the sequel to the bestsellers Surrounded by Idiots and Surrounded by Psychopaths, was released. The books are based on the DISC model, which assumes that all personalities can be placed in one of four color compartments and is used by both companies and authorities to assess jobseekers. 

Both myself and many of my colleagues in the psychology research field are of the firm opinion that the DISC model is as accurate as a horoscope and that it leads to incorrect assessments and recruitments. It is also important to highlight that there are scientifically developed tests that actually work, says Trevor Archer, Doctor and senior researcher in psychology at the University of Gothenburg.

Magnus Lindwall, professor of psychology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, also criticizes pseudo-scientific personality tests in general and the “Surrounded by” books in particular, most recently in an article in Göteborgs Posten from October 30th. 

This color theory is basically like a horoscope. In organizations and companies, it’s been used long before the book came out. […] By investing money in it, you are more inclined to believe that it will work. But that someone in a group turns out to be red according to a personality test is most likely not the actual problem”says Magnus Lindwall. 

Trevor Archer has conducted a series of scientific studies using the certified workplace psychological test JobMatch Talent and agrees with his colleague that tests without a scientific basis are a serious problem. 

People, companies, and authorities are attracted by the simple and easy-to-understand answers that these tests give, and it will lead to real setbacks for both those who recruit and those who are recruited. Measuring and analyzing a personality can never be easy because there are no simple personalities, says Trevor Archer. 

Certified tests that actually work 

The actors who offer scientifically based personality tests have invested a lot of time and large resources in in-depth validity and reliability tests to develop theoretical concepts and variables. DNV-GL is responsible for quality review and certification of personality tests in Sweden and has a list of the tests that have been certified so far. 

It takes several years to develop a personality test such as JobMatch Talent that provides measurable effects in recruitment processes. It also takes time to learn how to use them and interpret the results correctly. If we want to get away from arbitrary and opportunistic recruitments based on guesswork, the scientific complexity must continue to exist, says Trevor Archer.