Behavior Tests for Job Candidates

Stephen Robert Morse

When you’re hiring new employees, there is only so much that a resume and interview can tell you about your new employee’s working behaviors.

For example, it is very difficult to be able to analyze someone’s emotional intelligence until they perform the job that has been laid out to them. Emotional intelligence is defined as “the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” Specifically, until someone is in an intense situation, it is very challenging to determine if they will be able to perform well under stress.

If you want to make the right hire, you need to fully understand the capabilities, weaknesses, values and habits of job candidates. One of the best ways to do this is with behavior assessment and testing. By performing behavior assessments using tests, you can better understand how a person would hypothetically perform in the aforementioned stressful situations.

Choosing the Right Behavior Test for Your Business

Small business owners should be aware of specific tests that candidates can take to determine their capabilities and flaws, but it is important to note that a coffee shop owner needn’t necessarily test for the same behaviors or traits as the person who owns a construction company. For example, a construction worker may have to work in adverse conditions, be they rain or snow or extremely hot weather. A coffee shop employee might be faced with other unique problems, like vagrants entering the shop, dealing with screaming children, or working constructively with customers who want their coffee made in very particular ways. (“2.5 sugars and 6 teaspoons of oat milk, please.”)

Furthermore, there are also questions of ethics that must be taken into account by employers. For example, at your coffee shop you have to trust someone with the cash register. But potentially more important, if you own an accounting firm, is to make sure your employee won’t help people cheat on their taxes, because as a small business owner it is you who will likely be liable in the event there are financial improprieties.

The next question is which test candidate should take. I have narrowed these down into a top five.

Top Five Behavior Tests to Use When Scouting Employees

Five tests that can be reliably used to evaluate candidates among different industries are the DiSC Profile, Hogan Assessments, AcuMax Index, StaffGeek, and MHS. Here is a breakdown of the costs and benefits to utilizing each test for your employees, and how they can be applied to your industry.

1. DiSC Profile

Many large corporations track DiSC profiles at staff retreats as this shows how teamwork can be applied to work situations. For example, are you the kind of person who prefers to have someone check your work at every step of the way, or do you prefer to go the whole way and finish something, even if it may not be correct and you’ll have to re-do it?

DiSC allows you to learn how different teammates may interact with each other. This could be very helpful for jobs like construction where teamwork is in play every single day. DiSC profiles help you:

  • Increase your self-knowledge: how you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress and how you solve problems
  • Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
  • Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Become more self-knowledgeable, well-rounded and effective leaders

2. Hogan Assessments

Hogan Assessments might come across creepy at first, as the survey aims to track and uncover the ‘dark side of people’s personalities’. However, while this is the overt aim, it in fact aims to assess “qualities that emerge in times of increased strain and can disrupt relationships, damage reputations, and derail peoples’ chances of success.” There is a reason for this: “By assessing dark-side personality, you can recognize and mitigate performance risks before they become a problem.” Nobody is perfect and we all have our flaws; this test allows you to learn what your flaws are and perhaps prevent them from coming to light in a damaging way that could hurt your team, your company, or your job.

3. AcuMax Index

AcuMax tries to understand “how people are wired” which “better aligns them in positions, creates enhanced idea flow, improves communication, productivity and decision making.” The goal of this is to improve human capabilities all around -which is a reasonable thing to want.

4. StaffGeek

StaffGeek claims their customers “cut their hiring costs by an average of 90%” when they partner with the firm. Their goal is to create more human-centric interactions by identifying your Company DNA which stands for “Distinct Native Attributes.” Then, the firm works diligently to match the right people with the right companies. StaffGeek asks cute real-world questions like “Do you consider your boss a prison guard or a best friend” and this helps its assessments make matches that are most effective.

5. MHS

These tests are designed for specific professions, ranging from healthcare to policing, and then also generic things like “finding talent.” However these tests are looking for specific common ailments like ADHD or depression while simultaneously measuring things from problem solving skills to risk assessments. These tests are hyper-specific which may or may not be what some employers and small businesses want.

And if you are on a tighter, non-corporate budget, you can use Psychology Today’s Emotional Intelligence Test. The full results of this test can be purchased for $9.95.

It is very important to get a full understanding about the types of workers your small business is hiring, as not everything can be revealed about a worker in their resume and interview. Behavior tests are an important way for business owners to assess qualities of a worker. Try taking some practice tests yourself so you can most effectively determine if purchased software is right for your small business.

6 Responses to "Behavior Tests for Job Candidates"

    • Cyndi Gave | June 26, 2018 at 1:10 pm

      Just a heads up…We are Behavior Experts At Work and have used behavioral assessments, psychographic tools for decades, so if you’re ever looking for a contributing writer, please keep me in mind.

      That being said, the US government REALLY frowns on the use of the word “test” as you’ve used it throughout the article. They are assessments, not tests. There is no right/wrong answer to the assessment tools you’ve mentioned (unlike a critical thinking test or math aptitude test).
      I’d also be leery about quoting very low prices — my experience is that if something requires an investment of $9.95, you’re getting exactly what you paid for – most good assessments will require expert debrief or explanation to avoid misinterpretation, in which case, it’ll be far more than $10

    • Suzan Briganti | June 26, 2018 at 9:08 pm

      These are good general purpose assessments. Large companies use Swarm Vision to identify innovation talent to drive growth. Try for free at SwarmVision.com

    • Terry Mitchell | June 27, 2018 at 10:23 am

      These tests are a misguided attempt to introduce pop psychology into the hiring process. Their actual value is marginal; the results are as likely to be misleading as they are revealing. Hiring managers need to stop shifting the responsibility to these kinds of pseudo-tools, and own their decisions. If they are unable to do that, then recognize that is where the problem lies.

    • Kristeen Bullwinkle | June 28, 2018 at 1:24 pm

      We use Everything DiSC for onboarding. For a pre-hire assessment we use PXT Select which is validated for this purpose. It includes a few behavioral insights, but more information about cognitive abilities. It gives us information about things like preferred pace for working plus scores for verbal and math skills. It’s more useful, but I’d still never use it for more than a third of my hiring decisions.

    • Ginger Tippie | February 19, 2019 at 10:33 pm

      Try giving real tests to see if they can perform the tasks, not “tell me about a time” or “what are your goals”.

      Business is about solving problems or otherwise you’re a cake baker following instructions on the box. Do you need a cake baker? Can they actually do a task assigned ? Can they do it in 30 minutes? Can they do it without all the information needed? Can they write a sentence or paragraph? Otherwise you probably just need robots or more IT to handle your tasks.

      It surprises me that many times people can’t problem solve and can’t handle resolving whatever is thrown at them. Nor can they write a cogent paragraph. Decide what the job entails and design a real example task to see if they can handle it. It will help you cut down on candidates.

      • Hannah Sullivan | February 20, 2019 at 7:54 am

        Ginger- great insight! Problem solving is very important for any job.

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