The Power of PPAs – These Profiles Can Help Identify the Right Candidates

Healthy Outlook

Have you ever made what you thought was a perfect hire, only to find out later that your perfect hire was actually a perfect storm waiting to happen?
If you’re responsible for hiring at your practice or organization, you have undoubtedly experienced this at one time or another. The challenge lies in identifying those candidates before you hire them. Of course, a great interview process, reference checks, and background checks go a long way, but even after these processes, sometimes problematic candidates still slip through the cracks. One solution to this is the temp-to-hire approach, but this isn’t always practical, especially for highly skilled positions like physicians or technicians.
However, if you can’t ‘try before you buy,’ what other solutions are there?
One terrific option for assessing a candidate’s aptitude for occupational success or organizational fit is a personality profile assessment, or PPA for short. PPAs come in a variety of options, and can assess general personality types, job fit, organizational fit, and even communication and team-oriented attributes.
The list is seemingly endless, but they all share a common theme. PPAs offer hiring decision makers an opportunity to evaluate the intangible traits of their candidates and often provide a gauge by which to check your gut feeling as an interviewer. Further, they are great at helping decision makers recognize an individual’s strengths and can even help with coaching and managing weaknesses or blind spots if the candidate is eventually hired.
It should be noted that PPAs are not a decision-making tool by themselves. Using the result of a PPA by itself to make a hiring decision is not recommended and certainly does not replace the need for a strong hiring and interview process. This is simply a tool to help establish an accurate perception of a candidate you are interviewing.
In addition to their function as a hiring tool, PPAs are also a terrific resource for practices and organizations seeking to drive change within their current workforce. Whether it be individual development or organizational team building, PPAs offer a wide variety of options for managers and organizational leaders.
Unfortunately, many PPAs have been dismissed by decision makers in the past as being either inaccurate or unreliable. However, many of today’s leading assessments are found to be scientifically accurate and are based on a significant population of respondents. In fact, many if not most of the reputable personality profile solutions provide detailed documentation attesting to their validity, research methods, and variance.
Once you have made the decision to proceed with a personality-profile assessment in your hiring process, the next step is to evaluate which assessment to use. There are a multitude of personality assessments that go beyond the scope of this article, but the following four assessments are a great starting point.
Meyers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The old standby, the MBTI has been in use since 1962 and has been used throughout corporate America for a very long time in various hiring processes. The MBTI is designed to help assess how an individual might fall within 16 personality types.
According to Meyers Briggs, no personality type is better than another, and while certain personality types are often drawn to certain careers, a diversity of type in any career is normal and healthy. The interesting thing about the MBTI is that it is often misused and/or misunderstood. The Meyers Briggs Foundation suggests that it is a terrific tool for self-assessment and team building; however, this assessment is not a job-performance or character-assessment tool. As a recruiting tool, the MBTI excels in identifying whether a candidate might enjoy or be motivated by a career in your industry, but should be paired with another assessments if you are looking to establish job fit or personality traits.
DISC Profile
Preceding even the MBTI, the DISC Profile was launched in 1928 and assesses four primary behavior types: dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance. The primary focus of the DISC Profile is on behavior and can be an incredible tool for understanding how best to work and communicate with an individual. The DISC Profile goes beyond simply establishing an individual’s behavior type and includes recommendations on how to best interact, communicate, and work with particular types. 
To take full advantage of a DISC Profile, organizational leaders may consider issuing the DISC to all employees in an organization. DISC excels in helping team members understand and recognize their similarities and differences and how best to work cohesively with one another. If your organization is seeking to target hires to help build stronger and more communicative teams, or you want to see how an applicant might fit with a particular team already in place within your organization, the DISC is a terrific option.
Strengths Finder
The Strengths Finder assessment is based on a 40-year research study by Gallup and the work of Clifton Larson. The assessment operates under the premise that everyone possesses, to one degree or another, a series of 34 talents. The Strengths Finder assesses which of those talents are most strongly represented in an individual, focusing on the top five. It is in this that the Strengths Finder is unique. Rather than following the traditional maxim of identifying one’s weaknesses and working to improve them, the Strengths Finder instead identifies an individual’s strengths and how that individual might leverage them to achieve success. In an organizational setting, the Strengths Finder assessment can be used to construct highly capable and complimentary teams where each individual’s strengths complement one another. From a hiring perspective, this type of assessment may help decision makers recognize what a candidate might bring to the table in terms of their individual strengths.
Hogan Personality Inventory
The Hogan Personality Inventory is an assessment tool that allows decision makers to evaluate the potential for occupational success. The HPI assesses personality qualities and helps predict how they might impact success in work, relationships, education, and training. In addition to occupational fit, the HPI may also highlight problem areas as a result of interpersonal tendencies. Unlike some of the other assessments listed, there is a specific occupational focus which allows organizations to dial the test into specific occupations. Research into each occupation highlights the range of results that best indicate a potential candidate’s aptitude for success in such a role, when compared to other respondents.
As you can see, the variety of assessments is large, and each assessment does something a little bit different. Assessing your recruiting process and identifying where opportunities for improvement lie can help you choose which assessment is best. It is important to remember that utilizing assessments of any type does not replace the need for a strong recruiting process. Further, after choosing a PPA, be sure to evaluate the assessment to ensure it does not discriminate in any way. While most assessments provide detailed information as to their testing criteria and strategy, sometimes it is best to consult with a consultant or authorized PPA administrator to get your program up and running.
John Veit is a recruiter for Holyoke-based public accounting firm Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., and offers consulting services focused on candidate searches, selection, the recruiting process, and project management; jveit@mbkcpa.com; (413) 322-3546.