I always remember the first question that my clients would ask me while we met up was how they could hire the right and fit people from the external market to take job openings and help them implement and fulfill strategies. For me, I usually did not directly respond to them what the right tools and ways were to help them hire the correct people. In contract; I preferred asking them what the tools or systems were used in their recruiting processes to find the right external candidates. My clients always replied to me that interview was the best solution to screen and find the right one. I would say their answer was partially right but partially wrong. By interviews, they could get the subjective information and data from the candidates who shared their past experiences to prove their capabilities on taking the positions successfully which the clients were hiring for now. However; these subjective data inputs from candidates could be validated by the interviewers who could have unconscious bias to digest, translate, and interpret these data inputs in a subject way so that the candidates’ shared experiences could become invalid and irrelevant and the candidates could be mistakenly rejected by the interviewers. In this way, the companies could face the risk of losing the right talents and the risk of failing to implement their strategies.
To avoid this situation, consequently, there were more and more psychologists and organizational behavioral experts, starting from Charles Robert Darwin, Francis Galton, and James McKeen Cattell, to understand individual differences in an objective way via psychological experiments and measurements. In 1961, Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal proposed the initial concept of Big Five personality traits model which is also called five factor model(FFM) to understand how one person is used to talk and describe things is highly related to their personality traits via factor analysis. Until 1990 Lewis Goldberg extended this five factor model to the organization level and this model became more popular in assessing people’s working preferences, interpersonal styles, and leadership behaviors. Nowadays; by using psychometric tests embedded with Big Five personality traits, the hiring manager could get the more objective data interpretation even though the candidates could share and input their thoughts and experiences in their subjective ways. With these psychometric tests, the hiring companies can mitigate the risks caused by interviews especially from non-structured ones and find the right talents to do the jobs and implement companies’ strategic goals. However; what is the magic inside the psychometric tests? What is Big Five personality traits model? Why is it so powerful? Please allow me to utilize this opportunity to share with you more deeply.
As shared in the last paragraph, Big Five personality traits model is also called five factor model which uses 5 dimensions to describe a person’s preferred behaviors and differences with others in working preferences, interpersonal reactions, and leadership styles. These five dimensions are openness (O), conscientiousness (C), extraversion (E), agreeableness (A), and neuroticism (N). If we select the first letter of these 5 dimensions, you can find they are OCEAN so that Big Five personality traits model is also called OCEAN model. Via this OCEAN model, we can find a person’s mindset through openness, interpersonal behaviors through extraversion and agreeableness, emotional management through neuroticism, and working style through conscientiousness. But how can this OECAN model specifically evaluate and assess a person’s mindset, interpersonal behaviors, emotional management and working style? Let me elaborate more about this OCEAN model so that you can understand how psychometric tests embed the OCEAN model in the assessment and how important this model is to help us find the right fit talents from external market.
Openness: In this dimension, psychometric tests and the hiring companies & managers are eager to know whether you are more likely to be attracted by varied tasks or routine jobs. Moreover; they also want to know whether you are more interested in abstract ideas in work or learning or you prefer learning by doing rather than sitting in the classroom for whole day or whole week in order to learn and understand new things. Besides; under this dimension, the hiring manager via adopting psychometric test would also like to know whether you are more likely to demonstrate your innovative or inventive capabilities on doing your jobs which could be unfamiliar or routine tasks or you prefer following the standard operational processes to complete these tasks. Moreover; via this openness dimension, you could also be assessed to be a type of person who is easier to adapt to changes or who is more difficult to face and embrace changes while your life or your current organization is under the transition period of changes.
Conscientiousness: In this dimension of psychometric tests, the hiring companies and managers want to know how candidates perceive and work on their personal jobs. By assessing candidates’ conscientiousness, we can understand whether candidates are more likely to manage and organize their work in a methodical or structured way and whether they could pay more attentions to details rather than to big picture during the execution of their work. Moreover; via this dimensional test, we can easily understand whether the candidates are more likely to achieve results or go beyond one extra mile even though they have achieved their originally assigned goals. What is more important is that in the assessment of conscientiousness, we can also assess whether the candidates can be persevering while facing obstacles or challenges in order to achieve results that they promised to themselves in the beginning. Needless to say, it is how important to understand candidates’ mindset and perception of their personal work management to predict their future success of assigned roles.
Extraversion: Except for having a clearer picture about candidates’ mindsets for jobs and personal work management, the hiring companies and managers are also interested in and eager to understand how candidates interact with others, including internal and external stakeholders. Once implementing OCEAN model based psychometric test, we can feel easier to understand candidates’ preferences on interpersonal management. Psychometric test also gives us an opportunity to know whether candidates are more likely to be assertive in their communication with others even though they would face the pressures from the people they talk with and from the topics they feel challenging and complex. Moreover; we can also understand the candidates’ communication styles whether they prefer convincing others in each of their conversations or debates or prefer taking everything for granted without the desire to let others buy their arguments. Besides; via psychometric assessment, we can also realize whether the candidates are more used to demonstrate their capabilities on relating with or approaching others in a swift way so that they could quickly build up relationships with them. Furthermore; we can also understand whether the candidates can be more likely to find the related and suitable resources and people to solve issues and problems in a diplomatic way rather than sit there, do nothing and wait for orders or instructions from the top management team.
Agreeableness: In OCEAN psychometric assessment, we are not only interested in knowing how candidates prefer interacting with others who are your direct counterparts in conversations or debates but also in understanding how candidates regard the team that they are involved in and how they think about the teamwork. Via psychometric test, the hiring companies and managers can know whether the candidates are more likely to be involved in a team in an emotional or rational bonding and whether they can be more open to accept others’ thoughts and ideas especially when the team members possess different arguments against theirs. Besides; when the candidates are facing the different arguments or criticisms from other team members, are they more likely to accept these criticisms and different opinions or to resist and ignore them? Psychometric test can also easily find out candidates’ preferred behaviors while dealing with conflicts and different thoughts. For a candidate taking a team leader role, the hiring manager can’t wait to know whether he/she is an inclusive leader or an ordering/demanding leader, which could also be tested and validated via the OCEAN based psychometric test and which is important to check the candidate’s readiness for his/her applied company’s and team’s culture.
Neuroticism: In the last dimension of OCEAN model which is called neuroticism, the hiring companies and managers are interested in knowing the candidates’ capabilities on their emotional management. Via the psychometric assessment, we can know whether the candidates can be still feeling relaxed while they face sudden or heavy pressures in their jobs. Moreover; it can also be found whether candidates are more likely to concentrate on the positive sides of processes and results of work that they are working on or more likely to think and act in a conservative or sometimes even pessimistic way. Besides; via the psychometric test, we can also understand whether the candidates feel easier to control their emotion and temper when they are facing the challenges and difficulties from the environment, work, or people they are working with. In the end, the candidates’ capabilities on seeking for stabilities or fluctuating based on the changed situations can be easily checked and validated via the assessment to understand whether they can seek for peace in their emotion in order to achieve their short- and long-term goals.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, the main goal for implementing psychometric test, which is majorly designed from OCEAN model, is to objectively interpret information provided by candidates who are sharing their data, experiences, and stories in a subjective way so that we can have the higher and better creditability and validity results to judge what they shared and decide whether we shall hire them or not. But we shall bear in mind one thing that OCEAN model based psychometric test is checking about the candidates’ preferred traits and personalities rather than their motivations for taking jobs that they applied. In this way, I suggest that the hiring companies and managers shall also adopt motivation test which can also interpret data around motivational drivers objectively shared by candidates and which is even a more important factor to decide whether candidates can be successful in taking jobs in a longer and sustainable way.