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Personal Profiling Gives Employers an Advantage in the Search for New Job Candidates

by Kate Smalley

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Published on this site: January 2004 - See more articles from this month

Companies are gearing up to begin hiring again now that the economic downturn is taking a nice upswing. The great news for employers is that many workers see now as the time to consider advancing in their profession. Those people, along with some exceptional employees who lost their jobs to down-sizing during the recession, mean that employers have more prime candidates from which to choose than they’ve had in years.

That’s the good news. The bad news is, it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, especially for small businesses where management often wears many hats in addition to human resources. Reviewing dozens of resumes and interviews can be time consuming, and even after that grueling process, there may be up to five great potential employees. How can you make sure you select the right person for the job so you don’t have to go through this long, and costly, process again any time soon?

It could be worth your while to implement a personal profiling test, like the DISC Personality Profiling Assessment, to provide another valuable piece of information for consideration when making hiring decisions. Many companies, both large and small, find personality profiling to be a valuable tool to discover, hire, and retain the cream of the crop.

The upper echelons of corporate America is where personal profiling got its start, but now many human resources departments implement profiling for all new hires. The tests range from simple online tests to in-depth interviews with psychologists. Prices are widely varied as well, depending on the depth of the test. Inexpensive tests mean that even small companies can afford to implement an assessment.

Personality assessments not only help you hire the right employee, they can help you keep them. Long-time HR directors will tell you that if you hire the candidate best suited for the job, but also for the work environment, you’ll retain the employee longer. Employee retention saves companies money and valuable time due to lost productivity and costs associated with recruiting and hiring.

The tests consist of questions a job candidate answers to help an employer determine more about the candidate’s personality and attitudes. Most personal profiles evaluate a candidate’s skills or personality. The DISC Personality Assessment provides information about both. I like that because it gives you even
more of the information you need to make a decision.

DISC is an acronym that stands for:

  • Dominance

  • Influence

  • Steadiness

  • Compliance

Learning about these characteristics of a potential employee’s personality help employers determine if they’ve got the right person for the job, both in temperament and in the candidate’s ability to adapt to the corporate culture. If a company is looking for a chief executive officer, a candidate needs to show some leadership personality traits such as the ability to persuade others to follow a vision and the skills to determine a path to achieve the company’s goals. A chief financial officer, however, needs to have negotiating ability and the skills to
work with details.

I actually took the DISC Personality Assessment to see for myself how valuable a personal profile could be. The first part of the test consists of a series of questions that the candidate takes online. I got back a comprehensive assessment consisting of 25 pages. The results were remarkable – my friends and colleagues alike agreed that the online test nailed every aspect of my personality.

The second part of the test consists of an interview with an evaluator to review the results. I learned how my personality works with other people, how I can communicate better with others I’m working with and what organizational structure would best suit me. The same information revealed in my interview would help an employer determine if a potential new hire will work well within the organization.

A business making a critical hiring decision often relies on the first impression that an interview provides. Often, companies need to look a bit deeper to determine the true substance and worth of a job seeker’s skill sets and personality, and how the combination of the two will fit in to the organization.

For example, a new hire may have the best skills in the world, but if he doesn’t have the communication skills to work well with your current team, he may not be the best candidate. It may be in the company’s best interest to hire a good
communicator with average skills that can be improved upon with training instead.

According to an Oct. 13, 2000 story in BusinessWeek Online, A survey of 2,100 human resource managers, conducted by the American Management Association, found that 30 percent were incorporating personality profiling into their hiring decision-making process. Those numbers may be on the increase due to the numbers of potential employees from which to choose.


But the numbers of plentiful employees may wane quickly now that the economy is picking up. According to Working Knowledge, a publication of the Harvard Business School, by 2010 there could be 10 million more jobs available than there are employees in the United States. So, any company that finds a tried-and-true method of hiring the right employee will be ahead of the game. The same test that could help you narrow the field would be just as important when there are fewer candidates from which to choose.


Some companies have avoided implementing personal profiling as a hiring tool because of misconceptions surrounding the industry. It’s easy to understand why. A search on the web for information about personal profiling brings results ranging from psychological groups to psychics! Here are some myths about using personal profiling in mainstream business:

Myth 1: Personal profiling is only geared toward hiring upper management.

Many corporations are using profiling to determine the best hires for every position, especially in organizations that are interested in making sure new hires fit into the corporate culture. Products available for instant online access and
results, like the DISC assessment, can help tremendously in the hiring process. Personal profiling can help ensure that any candidate is right for the job or can work with particular personality types.

Myth 2: Personal profiling is too expensive.

Although you can spend thousands of dollars on a battery of tests for an upper-management position, some tests, like DISC, are cost-effective enough to be implemented on a daily basis. You spend a lot of money and time alone interviewing candidates, so using the DISC personal profiling test could keep you from going through it all over again for the same position next year! When you look at all the costs associated with losing an employee – from lower productivity to the time spent to rehire and train a new worker – many companies could actually save money implementing a pre-employment test.

Myth 3: Personal profiling really isn’t geared toward small business.

Actually, small businesses may benefit the most from conducting personal profiling assessments. Nowhere else in industry does time spent in human resources management chip away at the bottom line more than in small business. When small business owners hire a new employee, they’ve got to make sure they’ve got the right candidate – it’s too expensive to make a mistake. When a small business owner is running classified ads, spending time reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates, it takes significant time away from running the business. Diverting the entrepreneur away from the business at hand to hire employees can seriously affect profits. Also, especially in the small business environment, it’s important a new employee work well with the owner and the other members of a small staff.

Myth 4: Personal profiling takes too much time.

Granted, some personal profiling tests do take a lot of time. Some can require candidates to answer hundreds of questions. Shorter tests, like DISC, can yield a lot of information with fewer questions. The DISC assessment, for example, only has 24 questions and can be completed in 15 minutes. Because the first phase of the test is taken online, results take mere minutes. The interview with a specialist to interpret the DISC’s results takes anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. That’s less than three hours – a fraction of the time it took to recruit candidates,
read resumes and interview applicants!

Myth 5: People can cheat on a personal profiling test.

Personal profiling test questions have no right or wrong answers, and many, like the DISC assessment, don’t have a lot of questions that might be perceived as negative to encourage a candidate to not be truthful. Most human resources managers use personal profiling tests as just a part of their evaluation of a potential new hire, and even the experts say that companies should never base their hiring decisions on the test alone. In reality, there are a lot of ways an unscrupulous candidate can cheat the entire hiring process – from padding their resume to not telling the truth in the interview. Adding more pieces to the process may help trip them up!

Hiring decisions are rarely easy, and whether it’s feast or famine – the large pool of candidates today or the slim pickings predicted in the future – a personal profile assessment would be an excellent tool to help hire the best person for your organization. It doesn’t matter if you are a Fortune 500 company or a mom-and-pop retailer – everyone saves time and money when the right candidate is hired the first time.

Kate Smalley President Connecticut Secretary

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