As a kid, it was fairly well ingrained in me that when taking a test, the goal was to try to achieve the highest possible score. If I received low scores on a test, then it meant I didn’t sufficiently understand some concept in algebra or properly comprehend the significance of a novel like Catch-22. In other words, tests served to point out deficiencies, so the higher the test score, the better. However, with pre-employment testing, and personality tests in particular, this is not necessarily true.
One of Criteria’s personality tests, the Criteria Personality Inventory (CPI) measures the “Big Five” personality traits – Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness, and Stability. Suppose you gave the CPI to two candidates: Amy and Bob. Amy scored in the 25th percentile on Agreeableness and 33rd percentile on Extraversion while Bob scored in the 90th percentile on Agreeableness and 84th percentile on Extraversion. Who is the better candidate?
With how we’re accustomed to thinking about tests, it would be easy to reason that since Bob scored higher, he must have done better on the test, and thus, must be the better candidate. However, this is not how personality tests work. The key is to examine the results in tandem with the job description. If you’re testing for a position — such as a Customer Service Representative — that requires frequent and pleasant interactions with others, then Bob may be the best candidate because his results point to a personality that is more cooperative and outgoing. If, on the other hand, you’re testing for a position that requires objective problem-solving skills and involves little social interaction — such as data analysts, for example — then Amy may be the best candidate because her results point to a personality that is less dependent on social interaction. Because there are no “high” or “low” scores on personality tests, the CPI should be viewed as an evaluation of candidates’ personalities, rather than a test they need to ace.
For this reason we recently redesigned the score report for the CPI. Based on customer feedback, we believe the new score report helps emphasize the point that there are no “high” or “low” scores on the CPI. The most significant difference you will notice is the Results Summary graphs. These graphs show where on the spectrum the candidate scored in each of the “Big Five” personality traits. At a glance, you can see how candidates compare to the general population. The Results Snapshot gives you a quick description of the candidate’s personality traits based on the results, and the full text for each trait emphasizes how the score should be interpreted. Finally, we added an Interview Guide where appropriate. These questions were designed to help you further probe a candidate if his/her results don’t seem to correspond with the type of personality demanded by a certain job.
We hope you’ll find these new score reports more useful and informative. If you have any questions, give us a call or leave a comment below.