Marta Fabiánová for HR news: How to get the most out of personality tests in interviews?

13. 02. 2024

Psychodiagnostics offer an important source of information about candidates. In practice, we receive a number of questions from clients regarding, among other things, when to use psychodiagnostic questionnaires and tests and how to handle the results. We are happy to share our experience gathered over more than twenty years. Practical tips are summarized by Marta Fabiánová, Managing Director of TCC online in an article recently published on HR news. And we are now bringing it to you here as well.

Should the candidate complete a psychodiagnostic in advance or on the spot?

Basically, the only advantage of completing psychodiagnostic questionnaires and tests “on the spot” is that it is a controlled environment. So you can be sure that the candidate is really completing it independently, has a stable connection, and is not disturbed by anything else. However, in the vast majority of cases, candidates complete the psychodiagnostic before the interview, online, according to their time availability and preferences. This also gives you plenty of time to read the results and prepare for the interview.

Should you allow the candidate insight into the outputs or not?

We always recommend that candidates have access to the outputs. This increases the reputation of the potential employer (transparency), the candidate’s motivation to answer authentically (“I’m interested in how I’m really doing”) and can be a valuable aid in adaptation or further development.

But the key question is when to share the outputs with the candidate. Sharing output before the interview is not tactical. Many clients do not share psychodiagnostic outputs until after the selection process. However, it is much more useful to share the outcome with the candidate during the face-to-face interview. It is helpful to briefly state the methods and explain what specifically struck us in the results. However, for reasons of time it is of course not possible to go through all the scales in detail. And then the candidate’s reaction is key.

Self-reflection is a great indicator

When you share the results of a psychodiagnostic in an interview, you have the opportunity to reflect on several qualities of the candidate.

  1. You see an authentic first reaction to the results. Does the candidate show interest or is he or she more alert, happy, excited, or indifferent? Any “visible” reaction usually represents some sort of attitude on the part of the candidate, and it’s great to inquire and find out more: “Are you interested?” “Do you remember filling it out?” “Do you have any expectations or previous experience with psychodiagnostics?”
  2. If you share the outcome directly in the interview, you can also check the candidate’s ability to absorb information quickly. Can he or she navigate the information? Do they ask logical questions? Are they more interested in outputs, or do they focus more on methodology, quality, or even issues such as sample size for standards? All of these can give you a clue as to how they work with information.
  3. You can see the attitude the candidate takes towards the advantages but also the risks of their profile, which is usually the most important. And it tells you how they are likely to respond to feedback and in the context of a potential collaboration. Are they defensive, making excuses, finding fault with the methodology, complaining about everything around them (not enough time, weird questions, being interrupted, not trusting the method)? Then they are likely to look for faults outside themselves in other situations.

Do they think about the results? Can they identify useful information for thsemselves and have awareness of the mentioned advantages and disadvantages and have learned to work well with them? Bingo! You have a person in front of you who has a realistic self-view and is capable of self-reflection, and likely these qualities will be very applicable in any collaboration.

Carefully choose the topics you want to explore more and use the BEI

You usually have about an hour or so of interview time (depending on the situation, of course). In limited time, it is important to be clear about which topics you want to focus on. Something will interest you in the CV, something will interest you in the psychodiagnostic results, some questions you need to ask everyone. Feel free to ban questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” and other overused and mostly expected questions to which the candidate has a ready answer.

You can recognize a good question by the speed of the candidate’s response. A moment of silence, when the candidate is thinking because they probably do not have an answer ready in advance, is a good signal.

So what to ask? Try to choose two or three topics at most that you think are worth checking based on the psychodiagnostic results. These are typically potential risks, such as extreme profiling on certain scales. A great tool for this is the BEI (Behavioral Event Interview). In short, this method of questioning is based on the premise that our actions in the recent past can well predict our actions in the future. Ask for specific examples from real life and the relatively recent past (max 1 year) on which the risk in question can be confirmed or refuted. And be inquisitive.

Does the candidate profile him or herself as extremely open, flexible, creative, but without the need to complete or structure things? Ask when they recently experienced the joy of a major completed task and what that looked like.

Then ask for another example. Specifically, how did they accomplish the task, what was their role, and what was challenging about it? What helped them the most? And when did it fail? Be curious and ask for as much specific information and as possible. Don’t settle for one example; ask for two or three. And then check how far back these examples go and what the candidate’s role really was. If the second example is harder to find, or if it’s from three years ago, then their ability to complete tasks is probably not all that good..

So, how do you get the most out of psychodiagnostics in an interview?

– Assign it in advance so you have time to prepare.

– Share the output with the candidate (and announce it). This increases the employer’s reputation and encourages candidates to be open. Monitor the candidate’s reactions and check for self-reflection.

– Choose two, maximum three topics to ask more questions about using the BEI.

Marta Fabiánová, Managing Director TCC online

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Pavla Kaňková

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