In separate agreements with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Best Buy and CVS have decided to stop using personality tests as part of their recruiting process, Erin Mulvaney reported at the National Law Journal last week. While the details of the agreements are confidential and neither company admitted liability, the EEOC said a former commissioner had raised concerns about the companies’ policies, prompting the agency to scrutinize whether these practices were potentially discriminatory:
The tests came under increasing scrutiny for their potential to weed out people with mental illness or certain racial groups. CVS had previously agreed, for example, to remove certain mental health-related questions from its questionnaire after a probe from the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.
In recent years, the EEOC launched investigations into personality tests on the grounds of discrimination and has guidelines for these job applicant assessments. Some companies on their own have decided to eliminate or reduce parts of the assessment tests, including Whole Foods Market Inc.
Target reached a $2.8 million settlement with the EEOC in 2015 over its candidate assessment system, which was alleged to discriminate on the basis of race and sex, and ended the practice. The agency has also litigated and won cases regarding such assessments against other companies over the years.
Organizational culture is critical to business outcomes and more than 80 percent of organizations hire specifically for culture fit. Seeing an opportunity here, tech startup Bunch wants to help companies bring more analytic rigor into how hiring managers assess job candidates for culture fit. Steve O’Hear recently profiled the startup at TechCrunch:
Specifically, by mapping company culture data against that provided by a job applicant, the idea, Bunch founder and CEO Darja Gutnick tells me, is to be able to highlight any potential cultural fit issues that can be teased out during a subsequent interview…
The way Bunch works is as follows: A company signs to the Saas and its teams take a 5-minute culture assessment, based on the O’Reilly model. Then, using the data provided, Bunch creates a culture profile for the company and each of its teams, mapped onto 6 key dimensions: Results-orientation, Adaptability, Collaborative, Detail-orientation, Principles and Customer-orientation. Every new applicant is tasked with taking an automated culture quiz that Bunch checks against the team and company profile.
Bunch’s push to put a quantitative lens on hiring for culture fit is well-intentioned. Taking a more “gut feel” approach to culture fit, as many managers currently do, can open up the organization to unconscious biases that threaten workforce diversity. There’s just one problem: Hiring for cultural fit is both more difficult and less effective than Bunch’s platform makes it look. Beyond the significant issue of bias, our research at CEB (now Gartner) shows that common strategies to change or strengthen culture by bringing in certain types of people don’t usually work.
Here are three main reasons why tools like Bunch’s are unlikely to produce the results organizations are looking for:
The investment bank Goldman Sachs is incorporating a personality test in its recruiting for summer interns in the US next year, Matt Jahansouz, the company’ global head of recruiting, tells Olivia Oran at Reuters:
He said future job candidates would be given the test before their second round of interviews at the bank. Their answers will be compared with those of current Goldman employees, who have already been identified as exhibiting traits that mark high performance such as teamwork, analytical thinking and judgment, Jahansouz said. …
“We’re shifting from a world where you just used to look at a GPA and resume and walk out with a feeling about an individual that you might want to hire,” Jahansouz said. “We can now capture characteristics and data that might not be as obvious to make smarter hiring decisions.”
Goldman has been in a process of reviewing and revising its hiring process for two years; in June 2016, the bank announced a major overhaul in which it would no longer conduct first-round on-campus interviews at elite universities. The move was intended to modernize the process, increase diversity, and find better and more committed employees.
Other companies have also experimented with personality tests in recruiting. The most famous example of this is Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, where candidates sit through five hours of assessment including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and several other personality tests. Heineken also included a personality test based on the Enneagram model in an innovative recruiting campaign launched last year.
It’s news to nobody that email can feel like the bane of white-collar existence, consuming our work lives even as it distresses and distracts us. According to some new research, however, not all forms of email stress are alike. Amanda MacMillan at Time highlights a psychological study from OPP, a research branch of the Myers-Briggs company, which found that people with different Myers-Briggs personality profiles use email differently, and find different aspects of it stressful:
Based on the full results, OPP developed personalized email management tips for eight unique personality types. For example, “activists” (people who are extroverted and sensing) should remember to make sure they send all of the emails they start in a day. “Conservers” (introverted and sensing) should turn off email notifications when they need to focus and concentrate, and are encouraged to follow up with people when they don’t respond to initial emails.
Adweek’s Angela Natividad applauds Heineken’s new, offbeat recruiting campaign, which begins with the video above and leads into a personality test, in which prospective candidates answer a series of questions in three to five seconds each:
Based on the Enneagram model, the results give you a personal profile, which must be sent along with your résumé when applying for your Heineken dream gig on LinkedIn. … The “Go Places” site, created over one-and-a-half years by Wefilm, Cloudfactory and Superhero Cheesecake (which managed the tech and interactivity), makes the interview process feel thorough, quick and surprisingly fun—if sometimes reductive. (We’re told one guy used two mouses to give multiple answers at once … and scored really well.)