A quick guide to behavioral assessments for employment

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Can you predict how well someone will perform on the job? As a recruiting team, it’s part of your job to figure that out. 

Unfortunately, it’s tough to predict a candidate’s behavior based only on a resume, a screening call, and a few short interviews. Much of what you learn about their personality and day-to-day behavior doesn’t come until you see them in a role.

Behavioral assessments get you those answers sooner rather than later by testing candidates on their underlying traits.

In this guide, we’ll explore how behavioral assessments can improve your ability to recruit the right talent for a role, including an overview of the most effective behavioral tests for employment.

Let’s dive in.

What is behavioral assessment for recruitment?

Hiring teams use behavioral assessments during the recruitment process to test a candidate’s suitability for a role. They evaluate a candidate’s personality traits, motivations, and behavioral habits to predict their likelihood of succeeding on the job.

Behavioral assessments are, in essence, personality tests. However, when many people think of personality tests, they immediately imagine pseudoscientific self-assessments that are more like personal horoscopes — that’s not what we’re talking about here.

These personality tests are designed by psychologists, behavioral analysts, and data scientists to predict how candidates will act in certain situations based on how they see the world. The tests ask candidates about their likes, dislikes, aspirations, fears, abilities, and challenges and then map them to ideal workplace situations.

For example, a candidate who enjoys a predictable routine is going to be far more suited to an administrative role than a candidate who thrives on constant change.

An introverted candidate is likely to generate more ideas when working independently than in a group brainstorm.

A candidate who thrives on timeliness and deadlines may not thrive in an open-ended working environment.

Most behavioral assessments, such as the personality and culture tests we offer at TestGorilla, come in the form of multiple-choice tests.

Other behavioral assessments use short-answer questions or one-way video interviews — but these often include some interpretation from the reviewer, which can introduce interviewer bias.

How to use behavioral assessments for employment

Recruiting teams typically give behavioral assessments to candidates during the screening process. They’re normally combined with other pre-employment skills tests to provide a well-rounded view of each candidate.

Some employers choose to include behavioral assessments as part of the initial application as a quick way to screen candidates, but most opt only to send them to a limited number of pre-screened candidates in advance of the interview stage as an additional method of comparing candidates.

Five benefits of using behavioral assessments in the hiring process

It’s always tempting to add new tools to your HR technology stack. But the obvious question to ask before adopting behavioral assessments into your recruitment process is whether they actually work.

According to research: yes.

Here are five compelling reasons to include behavioral tests as part of your hiring process.

5 benefits of using behavioral assessments for employment

1. Multi-measure tests predict employee performance

Any individual test or assessment method is limited in its ability to predict job performance. But using multiple different types of assessment methods including cognitive ability tests, situational judgment tests, and others, can result in a strong predictor of job success.

Therefore, behavioral assessments should not be used in isolation to pass or fail candidates, or to hire for a particular personality type.

They should be used in combination with other assessment techniques as a means to prepare talking points for an interview, assess team dynamics, and paint a complete picture of a candidate.

2. Personality is the best predictor of behavior

Someone’s behavior can change daily, but their underlying personality and traits are unlikely to waver very much.

For example, someone who’s more spontaneous and creative can actively adopt behaviors to stay organized, such as keeping a rigid schedule or taking detailed notes during meetings. But when thrown into a novel or stressful situation, they’re most likely to revert to their inner self.

Therefore, someone’s personality is a better predictor of future behavior than their past on-the-job behavior in other roles — which is the only information you have if you’re screening a resume or asking behavioral interview questions.

3. There’s no “right answer” on behavioral tests

Because behavioral tests ask multiple-choice questions with equally respectable answers, there’s no way to “game the system.” The goal is to match the right traits with the right roles, not classify certain traits as good and other traits as bad.

For example, our 16-type personalities test asks, “What positive effect do you have on people?” with options such as:

  1. I calm and relax them

  2. I energize and motivate them

Neither of those answers is obviously “better” than the other, so a candidate is incentivized to answer honestly.

According to Deniz S. Ones, an industrial psychology professor at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, candidates rarely fake their answers on personality tests, and even when they do on the odd question, it doesn’t have a major impact on results.

4. Assessments reduce hiring bias and increase objectivity

Despite a hiring team’s best efforts, it’s common for bias to creep into the candidate selection process.

Race, gender, age, physical attractiveness, and similarity to the interviewer or resume screener can all influence how a candidate is judged.

Even if you don’t let bias cloud your judgment when it comes to assessing a candidate’s personality, you still only have one or two interviews to get to know them. You’re bound to get it wrong sometimes.

By introducing standardized behavioral assessments, you can compare personality traits objectively and with additional data points.

5. Hire for culture add

With a more accurate assessment of personality, you can actively hire for culture add (which we argue is a better goal than hiring for “culture fit”).

Hiring for culture add means hiring employees that share your values rather than hiring employees that look, act, or sound like your current team.

Ultimately, using behavioral assessments can help you add diversity, work together more cohesively, improve employee engagement, and boost overall team performance.

Different types of behavioral assessments for employment

What do behavioral assessments for recruitment look like in practice? 

Here are five behavioral tests we recommend from the TestGorilla test library.

different types of behavioral assessments for employment

1. The 16 Types test

The 16 Types personality test is a self-evaluative questionnaire in which a candidate describes where they get their energy, how they prefer to process information, what drives their decision making, and how they like to live their life.

The test is based on the work of Carl Jung, a famous Swiss psychiatrist. 

What does it test?

If you’re familiar with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the 16 Types test is extremely similar. 

The test asks candidates to self-reflect on four different dimensions, each given as a spectrum:

  • Introversion (I) vs. Extraversion (E)

  • Intuition (N) vs. Sensing (S) 

  • Feeling (F) vs. Thinking (T)

  • Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)

A candidate’s result is given as a four-letter combination, such as iNtj or Estp — where the capital letter highlights the candidate’s strongest element of their personality.

How does the test work?

The 16 Types test has a forced-choice question format (i.e., multiple-choice), in which the candidate must choose between two statements. They’re asked to select the statement that most applies to their personality.

Sample questions include:

“What do you find most attractive about other people?”

  • Intelligence and strength – OR – Charisma and morals

“You focus on:”

  • Patterns and relationships – OR – Specifics and facts

“What positive effect do you have on people?” 

  • I calm and relax them – OR – I energize and motivate them 

“You value:”

  • Timeliness – OR – Spontaneity

What do you learn from the test?

The 16 Types test gives you a clearer idea of the candidate’s dislikes, motivators, strengths, and weaknesses. 

This data can help you prepare targeted interview questions or give you insight into how they may fit in or add to your team.

2. The Big 5 (OCEAN) test

The Big 5 test, also known as the Five Factor or OCEAN test, is another self-evaluative personality test used in recruiting.

The Big 5 test is derived from the five-factor model (FFM) theory that splits personality into — you guessed it — five dimensions.

What does it test?

OCEAN is an acronym for the five personality dimensions presumed by the test:

  • Openness: Inventive and curious vs. consistent and cautious

  • Conscientiousness: Efficient and organized vs. extravagant and careless

  • Extraversion: Outgoing and energetic vs. solitary and reserved

  • Agreeableness: Friendly and compassionate vs. challenging and callous

  • Neuroticism: Sensitive and nervous vs. resilient and confident

How does the test work?

Big 5 test-takers are asked to self-assess by scoring themselves on a scale from 1 (very inaccurate) to 5 (very accurate) on a series of statements about their behavior and personality.

Sample questions include:

  • “I am the life of the party.”

  • “I feel little concern for others.” 

  • “I am always prepared.”

  • “I get stressed out easily.”

What do you learn from the test?

The Big 5 test gives you a more thorough understanding of the test-taker’s personality traits, which can help you understand their fit for a particular role.

For example, some roles may require more empathy and compassion, whereas others require astute feedback.

3. The Enneagram test

The Enneagram test (or simply, the Enneagram), distinguishes nine personality types. Based on the work of Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo, the test positions a candidate’s personality on a nine-point diagram known as an “enneagram.”

**What does it test?**The Enneagram aims to understand someone’s core beliefs and how they relate to people of differing personality types.

How does the test work?

Similar to the 16 Types test, the Enneagram asks candidates to choose between two statements with the following prompt:

“Describe yourself as you generally are now, not as you wish to be in the future. Describe yourself as you honestly see yourself, in relation to other people you know of the same gender as you are, and roughly your same age.” 

By posing the question this way, the question tries to strip the candidate of notions of how they should be.

Sample questions include:

  • I rarely display signs of affection – OR – I am not afraid to display signs of affection

  • Friendship over fairness – OR – Fairness over friendship

  • I speak my mind about other people’s lives – OR – I am withdrawn and somewhat ambiguous in my communication

  • I am determined in times of hardship – OR – I withdraw and am demotivated when faced with hardship

What do you learn from the test?

The test provides insights into the candidate’s personality, how they approach personal relationships, and their style of work in a professional setting.

The Enneagram also provides suggestions for how the candidate may interact with people of each of the nine Enneagram types, including tips for better communication.

4. The DISC test

The DISC personality test also splits the candidate’s personality into four basic categories.

What does it test?

The DISC test asks candidates to self-evaluate on the following four dimensions:

  • Dominance (D): Confident with an emphasis on producing results

  • Influence (I): Open with an emphasis on building relationships

  • Steadiness (S): Dependable with an emphasis on cooperation

  • Conscientiousness (C): Independent with an emphasis on accuracy or expertise

While most of the previous tests treat each personality category as a spectrum, the DISC test positions someone as a single category (E.g. D) or as a blend of a category and one of its neighbor categories (e.g. DI or DC).

How does the test work?

As with the Big 5 test, the DISC test asks candidates to rate statements about their personality from “Very inaccurate” to “Very accurate.”

Sample questions include:

  • I put people under pressure

  • I joke around a lot

  • I hesitate to criticize other people’s ideas

  • I am emotionally reserved

What do you learn from the test?

The DISC test provides insights into how each type is most likely to behave in personal relationships and the workplace. It also describes their best traits and probable challenges.

5. The Culture Add test

The Culture Add test measures a candidate’s values and behaviors relative to your company’s values. The test helps you hire candidates that will have a positive impact on your company culture.

What does it test?

The test assesses candidates on their values (e.g., achievement, equality, independence), behaviors (e.g., analytical, diligent, or helpful), and their interests (e.g., strategizing, teaching, or designing).

How does the test work?

The Culture Add test is customized to your company’s values. First, your company completes a survey in which you are asked to rate a list of values, behaviors, and activities as they apply to your company values. 

Then, the candidate receives a survey and must self-assess the relative importance of the same values and behaviors.

What do you learn from the test?

The Culture Add test shows you how a candidate aligns with your organization’s values, in addition to indicating how their behaviors may allow them to succeed or fail in a particular role.

TestGorilla helps you hire the best

In summary, behavioral assessments help you:

  • Predict an applicant’s on-the-job performance

  • Reduce hiring bias

  • Hire for culture add

Ready to make behavioral assessments part of your hiring plan? Try TestGorilla for free today.

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