know about testing
time to ask
By Jim Collison,
President, Employers of America
Coach to America's Employers
Sun Features columnist Joyce Lain Kennedy how to react when
asked by an employer to take a personality test, specifically
a 200-item questionnaire written by L. Ron Hubbard, the Scientologist
In her response,
Kennedy gave the case for personality testing and the
case against personality testing. Her column ended with
a quote from Wendell Williams, an Atlanta-based selection expert: "The
(Scientology) instrument was a large-as-life clue to what you
can expect in that office. If you're not in agreement, keep
side-steps the important questions, though. At least, the important
questions that employers, managers and supervisors have. Questions
wrong with using a 200-item questionnaire by L. Ron Hubbard?
A. I can't
think of a valid, work-related, business-related justification
for giving job applicants a Scientology test. L. Ron Hubbard
was a science fiction writer. He wasn't qualified to design
a valid, non-discriminatory personality or behavior test. Using
a Scientology, or another religious-based test, to screen applicants
would expose you to the risk of illegally discriminating against
applicants based on their religious beliefs.
a list of tests
you can use in your
process, and the
sources for these tests,
contact Employers of
America at firstname.lastname@example.org
and request the Test List.
wrong about using personality tests?
A. An applicant's personality is
the sum total of all the qualities and traits that distinguish
the individual from others. Giving a personality test
to applicants, for most types of jobs, is overkill. It takes
too long for an applicant to complete taking the test and it
attempts to measure too many characteristics.
of the instruments people call tests aren't tests. Strictly
speaking, most are measuring devices or instruments. They measure
how one person's characteristics or traits compare to other
people's. They don't test a person's knowledge, skills, or
achievement. But we'll use the commonly accepted term test when,
in fact, we're really talking about measuring instruments.
Wendell Williams correct, as quoted in Kennedy's recent column,
that personality tests are
depends on what is meant by personality tests. If you're
talking about a full blown personality test, giving you a report
on the sum total of all the qualities and traits of an individual's
uniqueness...then for purposes of selecting an applicant to
fill a specific job, the results for you probably will be mostly
better than using a personality test?
tests that measure specific qualities or traits that are
important in the work world and important for success in
a particular job. Do you want to know if an applicant is
reliable, has a good work ethic? Use a test that measures
you want to know if an applicant is honest? Use a test that
measures the applicant's attitude toward honesty.
you want to know if an applicant has the will to do
the job (not just the ability to do the job)? Use a test
that measures the applicant's willingness to work.
you want to know if an applicant's behavior style (one facet
of personality) matches the ideal behavior style for success
in a specific job? Then use a test that measures the applicant's
you want to know if an applicant will fit in on an existing
team? Use a behavior style instrument to identify the styles
of the present team members. Then use the behavior style
instrument to identify the qualified applicant who has the
behavior style that's needed to fit the team and give added
strength to the team.
Do you want to know if the applicant can enter data into a computer
accurately and quickly? Then give the applicant a data entry
Isn't it illegal to do testing, or at least isn't it legally
A. It isn't illegal to do testing, but using tests that aren't valid or
using valid tests in ways that result in discriminating against
applicants and employees protected by civil rights laws...can
get you into legal trouble.
What do you mean by valid tests?
A. A valid test - one that is legally safe for you to use - is one that
(1) provides measurements or results that are related to
the demands and requirements of the job...and (2) does not
result in discriminating against individuals protected by
civil rights laws.
So to avoid
accusations of using tests to discriminate against individuals
in protected classes...use only tests that are validated. The
creators and publishers of validated tests have documentation
to prove that their test results do not discriminate against
individuals in protected classes.
So give some examples of tests an employer could give...for
valid results and without risking illegally discriminating
against applicants and employees.
A. I'll tell
you of some of the tests we use at Employers of America. For
entry level jobs, we give otherwise qualified applicants one
of three different reliability tests. These tests help identify
an individual's work ethic, how reliable the person will be
as an employee.
responsible positions, we also give otherwise qualified applicants
a behavior style test. Since we know the kind of behavior style
that is best for success in the position, we look for applicants
with behavior styles that come close to fitting the job's needed
behavior style. Does the job require steady, highly-accurate
performance? We look for the individual who has a steady, detail-oriented
positions we give a "positive outlook on life" attitude
test. Results of this test tell us whether an applicant looks
at a glass that's 50% full as half full or half empty. We want
people here who look at life and at work situations and opportunities
as at least half full rather than half empty or empty.