Psychometric testing in the workplace at Netfirms

Thu, 28th February 2008, 19:22

Canadian Business Online has an article about psychometric testing of employees. It mentions that the webhost Netfirms makes use of psychometric testing for its employees. The best known psychometric test is the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, which tells you which of sixteen personality types you are. From the article:

Thomas Savundra says psychometric assessments have been instrumental in helping his Toronto-based Web-hosting firm hire salespeople whose personalities are aligned with the company's culture. "We wanted people who are outgoing and consultative, but not aggressive," says the CEO of Netfirms Inc. The challenge is gaging during the interview process just how aggressive a recruit will be with potential customers. In fact, Netfirms replaced half its salespeople during its first year in business due to their poor fit with the job.

Savundra asks candidates to complete an online assessment offered by Toronto-based Self Management Resources Corp., which measures specific personality traits, including aggressiveness, confidence and co-operation. Since incorporating the test into its hiring practice two years ago, Netfirms has cut sales-department turnover to less than 6%. What's more, the process forced Savundra's hiring team to develop and communicate a more cogent picture of its ideal candidate.

Although psychometric assessment has worked well as a hiring tool for his inbound call centre, for which there is a large volume of hires in the same role, Savundra says they have been less useful in hiring for positions that may be filled by only one person. "We never developed the critical mass of hires anywhere else to form a picture of an ideal candidate," he says. "It works best when you've got something to measure new people against."

I think it is a positive use of these tests to filter out aggressiveness in your salespeople. It speaks well of Netfirms that they do this and surprises me (pleasantly) that they aren't looking for aggression.

If you are interesting in finding out your Myers-Briggs Type, you can take the test for free here. I did, and found out I was an INTJ (Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging) which seems to fit. Other INTJs are the fictional characters Gandalf, Dr. Gregory House, Hannibal Lector (how fictional characters take the test is beyond me); real-life people Dan Akroyd, Jane Austen, Phil Donahue, Steven Hawking and others. It is a good test to take if you wish to flatter yourself, it doesn't point out any negatives to who you are. I like that.

The article mentions the lower cost of the tests (around $500 per employee) has increased their usage. Typically you are given both cognitive ability tests (problem solving and intellectual ability) and personality tests (to predict how you will interact and behave). From a potential employee standpoint I'm not crazy about the idea of a test determining who I am, particularly if the results aren't shared with me. From a hiring employer's standpoint, I can see the benefit of this. I've hired great candidates only to find out after a few weeks that they have very negative personality traits. You can change someone's behavior but you cannot change who they are. Any help in getting a handle on who a person is before you bring them is a great tool to use.

What do you think? If you take the free test, leave a comment telling us if you think your personality type is correct. Thank you.