College of American Pathologists
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  Making the most of personality tests


CAP Today




October 2010
Feature Story

Labs appear to be more comfortable using one recruitment/retention tool—personality tests. “It’s scientific,” McKee says. “They can measure it.”

McKee, who’s a fan of the DISC assessment (an acronym for dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness), would like labs to expand their use of these tests. While many use them for hiring managers, she thinks they’re also ideal for hiring technologists and for surveying current employees.

The goal is to identify common traits among those who are doing well in their jobs, and common traits among those who aren’t. The results aren’t used to punish current employees. Rather, they identify successful traits, which you can then look for in potential employees. Traits common among less successful workers can be used to rule out potential hires.

Won’t current employees be suspicious? If they are (though McKee emphasizes the testing should not be used punitively), you can ask for volunteers—another way, she says, of engaging employees.

Once you have a baseline profile of a successful lab employee, McKee wants labs to reach even further: Call employees who’ve left in the past few years and ask them to take the test, perhaps in exchange for a token reward—a $50 Starbucks gift card, for example. “If a potential employee has the same characteristics [on the personality profile] as past employees who’ve left after only a year or two, this may be a sign he or she won’t be a long-term employee for your lab,” McKee says. That candidate will require all the investment in a new hire—time, energy, money—but may not produce the payoff of a good, long-term employee. “So I would consider eliminating this candidate from your process.”

McKee says one of her clients insists that any potential hire pass its personality profile before committing to a phone interview. “You might think that sounds aggressive, and certainly it is. But look at the time they’re saving their organization. Because even a phone interview takes 30 minutes, an hour.” Instead of doing, say, 10 phone interviews, narrow the pool to four candidates whose profiles show they share characteristics with your best employees.

—Karen Titus


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