Blogs, personality and the hiring process…

Wendell Williams, in his recent writing on “Incorporating Personality Into the Hiring Process” , discusses the connection between personality traits and performance (and therefore hiring). Much of the article is about personality testing (I'll share my opinions about this some other time but in short, I think that people often decide personality test answers based on the person that they want to be versus the person that they are...just my .02). Wendell says “ <attitudes, interests and motivations> do not define an applicant's planning, cognitive, or interpersonal skills; they identify how the applicant uses them.“ This is absolutely relevant to how well a person performs in their job.  Here's the relevance to some blog-related topics we have been discussing here:

If personality tests are a manufactured and controlled measure of personality (as Wendell describes it, “attitudes, interests and motivations“), aren't blogs a free form version of the same? Granted, they are under the control of the individual, but frankly, so are personality test answers. Aren't blogs a tool to show the world (including potential employers, partners and customers) who you really are...your true personality?

I've seen lots of discussion here and elsewhere about what blogging can mean for your career. Wendell talks about some of the traits that employers look for (or look out for). These vary somewhat by employer and between you an me, there's a certain “self-centeredness” that goes along with blogging so I'd take that one with a grain of salt (I do know people that don't blog because they don't want to talk about themselves...I obviously don't have a problem with it). But it does give you some things to be mindful of...just know that if an employer did find your blog, they could draw some conclusions about you based on how you talk about team working situations or how you discuss and solve problems or your passion for things inside and outside of the workplace. I wouldn't suggest that you manufacture a persona based on these things, though. At the end of the say, what you put out there is the google world's view of you so it pays to be your best you.


Comments (7)

  1. It always concerns me when ‘personality tests’ are used in a non-professional context such as recruitment interviews. Even when used professionally they’re indicative of general trends and are really only used as part of far more thorough diagnostic interviews (even the best of them are ludicrously easy to mould to whatever you want). Are blogs more indicative of ‘true’ personality than these tests administered by amateurs – well, they’re more like a long, drawn out conversation – for instance, when many people feel down they won’t blog during that time – most also won’t blog more controversial topics or things which may make them seem stupid to their peers. In short, it’s likely that most blogs will show a person in their best light – for that reason I think more credence should be given to the technical content rather than personal context in blogs. I should mention, I trained as a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist before becoming a coder, in forensic psychology one of the things you learn is that written tests are rarely ‘true’ indicators of likely future behaviours.

  2. Heather says:

    Scott-great points. I’ve never worked fgor a company that used personality tests as part of the interview process. They just seem a little too restrictive and artificial for me. I agree that blogs do put a person in the best possible light. We have a very thorough interview process; which I am confident brings out the positive aspects of a person as well as areas for growth. So with regard to the blog specifically, I don’t see anything wrong with it presenting people very positively if the goal is to get the interview. At the end of the day, it won’t get them the job…they still have to go through the interviews.

    I absolutely agree with you that tests aren’t true indicators of future bahviors. Lou Adler, well know in recruiting, builds a lot of his writing and recruiting training around the idea that the true indicator of future performance is past performance. I don’t see that as 100% true as motivation, I think, plays a big part. But it’s a good concept for staffing professionals.

    I’ll definitely have to remember your background in forensic psych. You may be able to answer some questions I get here. Of course, I am curious about how you made the decision to code versus pursuing psychology as a career.

  3. Yup, having been the victim of a Microsoft interview (I mean asking logic puzzles during lunch, that’s just inhuman ;-)) I can attest as to the thoroughness of them. Problem comes from people like recruitment consultants who attempt to use these test as a selling point for their service – I went though this process about 2 years ago and I’ve never seen more poorly administered psychometric tests – unfortunately the employers hunting for staff have their pool filtered using these tests which is really pretty bad.

    Why coding and not psychology…hmm…I really have no good reason, just kind of drifted (well, I started my PhD and chose a topic which didn’t really keep me interested which didn’t help!)

  4. Gavin Greig says:

    I work (as a software developer) for a business that is based on personality testing, so you can take what I say with the appropriate amount of salt. 🙂

    My experience of taking our tests is that there certainly are days when I would like to come out as something different, and I answer the questions accordingly. I’m sure I’m not answering the questionnaire in the same way each time! However, if I’m honest about my answers, within the leeway my personality allows, I still come out in pretty much the same place in our system. The results tend to be corroborated in other ways, such as colleagues recording their perceptions of me, and re-testing over extended time periods. So far as I know, although I don’t have much direct customer contact, our customers’ experience is similar.

    Our reports also try to show the difference between the person you present yourself as and how others may see you – perhaps this would answer some of your doubts about how people answer the questions. 🙂

    However, although we have a lot of confidence in our results, we don’t recommend that our tests be used for hiring – personality preferences don’t determine how suitable you will be for a particular role, though understanding each others’ preferences might help to oil the wheels once within a team.

  5. Christian McGuire says:

    I recently applied for a web-design position with an organization to which my wife and I contribute financial support via pledges/matching gifts and are therefore "members" and for which my skills as musicologist and web developer were more than adequate for the position as described.


    After making through the first round of interviews, I was called back.  This time they requested that I proceed with the formality of taking an online  personality test via their vendor, "Profiles International, Inc."

    Well, my first thought as an experienced manager myself, was that this is highly irregular procedure.  So I mentioned it to my wife, a professional Leadership and Organization Development Consultant, who was simply aghast.

    "Personality tests (such as Myers-Briggs etc) should NEVER be used in determining whom to hire! They are used to help managers and employees learn how to work together!").

    Having my gut reaction confirmed, I then searched the Internet for this company.  I found their website and then searched for credible sources of information (i.e. peer reviewed / refereed journals which indicated the

    validity and accuracy of their personality tests.)  – I expect nothing less from my students…

    I could find none except some vague reference to the Havard Business Review (without properly citing the title of article or date.)  Needless to say, I find Wikipedia more reliable than this website.

    I then wrote my potential employer with my concerns.  They responded by saying, "our OD consultant has verified that this is a valid company and here is the HBR article (which after I checked it, had no relationship with

    Profiles International nor the nature of their testing)  and that our personality tests meets all legal regulations for discrimination."

    Well, problem is that many employers still seem to think that "diversity" ends with perceived "race" and "gender" but does not take into account diversity of learning / working styles.  The latter not being enforceable by

    law (regardless of ethics)  Anyway, I think I pretty much argued myself out of the job, because instead of being a good little obedient soldier, I raised my concerns, then after taking the test cited a minimum of 20 questions asked on the exam which I did not believe are legitimate. for

    example "Have you ever wanted to wring someones neck?"  or "Do you believe most employees deserve to make more money than their boss."

    Again, with such ridiculous questions as these, why should this personality exam be perceived as any more legitimate than one of those myspace type personality tests, "Which Superhero or Gilmore Girl are you?"

    After 3 weeks of not hearing anything, I wrote to them.  They apologized for not getting back to me and informed that they went with someone else within the company.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    Christian – what a horrible experience! I think you are better off having not received an offer!

    Answer to "Have you ever wanted to wring someone’s neck?" is "Yes, the person asking me this ridiculous question".

    I personally feel that interviews, though  imperfect, are more reliable than personality assessments or technical skills assessments. People will answer personality assessments the way they think you want them to…it’s human nature. As for technical skill assessments, I think they only prove what someone can do in a testing atmosphere where no additional resources are available. That’s not real-life. I think tech skill assessments can give you *some* info about a person’s knowledge but it’s just a small piece of the puzzle.

  7. Janice Pence says:

    I’ve been in HR for years and talks of using Personality Testing for hiring purposes scares me a little.  Our company uses <a href="">Myers-Briggs Personality Testing</a> for screening of canidates AFTER they have been approved by their potential direct manager.  We’ve found the MBTI to be very useful in screening down similar looking job applicants.  For instance recently we used the MBTI to look at two canidates who has very similar qualifications, education and work experience.  We found that one’s MBTI profile was more in line with the ‘occupational’ personality type that we were looking for.  So we chose them over the other canidate.  

    It seems to make sense for the second or third tier screening of canidates, but not for initial screening.  There are many great people out there who you may pass on if you look solely at their personality type.

    Anyone agree?

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