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Many employers use behavioral testing as a screening tool, to complement the interviewing process in determining if someone is a good fit for the job and for the company culture. But it can also help you manage your existing team, by identifying employees' work or learning styles and providing insight into the most effective ways to communicate with and coach them.
What Behavioral Tests Measure
Behavioral tests assess personality traits such as how people relate to others and how they approach tasks. They provide an overview of someone's personality, including general characteristics, such as if someone leans more toward introversion or extroversion, or if a person is more of a right-brain or a left-brain thinker. But some tests also provide insight into situation-specific traits, such as how much direction a person needs, if he works best during the day or at night and if he is better suited to starting projects or finishing them.
Getting the Best Results
In his "Entrepreneur" magazine article "Recruiting and Hiring Top-Quality Employees," Paul Sarvadi says the ideal test will measure traits such as if people are open to new ideas, if they are willing to compromise, if they are emotionally stable or insecure and if they are conscientious. Sarvadi also recommends creating a success profile for each position first and then comparing the results of behavioral tests to the characteristics needed for the job.
Many employers use behavioral testing as both a selection and a retention tool. As part of the hiring process, it can help narrow down the applicant pool and provide a more in-depth assessment than just interviewing. Assessment tests can also help employers create balanced teams, by identifying which employees are comfortable in leadership positions, for example, and which have stronger communication skills.
The tests can also provide insight into employees' working styles, information employers can use in assigning employees tasks after they are hired. It may also aid in employee retention, by helping employers better understand their employees' strengths, challenges and needs. If challenges arise later, employers will have a better understanding of how to reach out and guide an employee, increasing the likelihood the employee will stay with the company.
Behavioral tests can produce a great deal of interesting and in-depth information, but that is just the beginning. Employers also need to understand what those results mean to employees and to the company. As start-up coach Stever Robbins points out in his "Entrepreneur" magazine article "Using Assessment Tests to Your Advantage," behavioral tests are only useful if they provide information you can apply to your workplace. If they require a significant financial investment and a consultant to interpret the results, they are not something you can use on a daily basis to help your workplace operate more efficiently, Robbins adds.