MUST READ: Are Assessments as Evil as the Persona Movie Suggests?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 07, 2021 @ 12:04 PM

Personality Tests Examined in HBO Max Doc Persona - VitalThrills.com

Suppose you made a movie about cars and decided to feature the 1970's era Ford Pinto, arguably the most dangerous car ever made.  In your movie, you say that since the Ford Pinto is a car, it is therefore representative of all cars, and since the Pinto had a gas tank that could burst into flames from even a fender-bender, that all cars are equally dangerous.  Of course your movie doesn't mention safe cars like Volvo, full-size sedans, pick-up trucks, SUVs or specialty vehicles like sports cars, convertibles, or limousines.  Nope.  The Pinto is the poster child for cars.

That's the problem with the documentary Persona - The Dark Truth Behind Personality Tests. The movie shines the spotlight on the well-known Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator and swings between those that love knowing, being and relating to one of the sixteen personality types; versus those who are trying to change laws to prevent assessments like this from being used as a pre-employment test.

The film mocks those who embrace the Myers-Briggs while advocating for the elimination of pre-employment assessments.  The film focuses on people who believe they were harmed and branded as unemployable as a result of being rejected for work - supposedly because of their test results. Kyle Behm was one of those people and he committed suicide while the movie was being filmed.  The advocates against personality testing for employment issue the dire warning that everyone is or will be negatively impacted by personality assessments.

The film takes five huge leaps of faith and expects viewers to leap along with them:

  1. By using Myers Briggs as the poster child of personality assessments, they lead viewers to believe that all personality tests are essentially the same, measure the same traits and types, and function the same way. This is untrue.  While they all measure traits, they do not measure the same traits, do not function the same way, and they are not all suitable for use as pre-employment assessments. 
  2. By referencing only personality tests, they lead the audience to believe that all pre-employment assessments are personality assessments and vice-versaThey don't mention that there are alternate assessments that are not personality tests.  For example, Objective Management Group (OMG) produces a sales-specific assessment that measures 21 Sales Core Competencies.  The questions ask how salespeople sell, not how people see themselves socially, so OMG's sales-specific assessment truly measures fit for a particular selling role (talent), and not whether someone has the personality type that an employer desires (subjective).
  3. The film-makers attempted to make the case that because these assessments are written by middle-aged white guys, all personality tests are biased towards someone who has had the same experiences as middle-aged white guys.  Oh, and they are racist. This highlights the complete and utter hypocrisy of the film.  Merve Emre, the writer and narrator, claims that the creator of the Myers-Briggs, Isabelle Briggs-Meyers, was a racist and therefore her assessment is biased.  Three things were obvious.  a) Isabelle was not a middle-aged white guy; b) Unless you believe the human mind is created differently in people of color, Isabelle could not have had skin color or upbringing in mind when she created the 16 types; c) Merve Emre began this documentary project with a tremendous bias against personality assessments and especially Myers-Briggs.
  4. Algorithms in personality tests prevent certain people from ever landing any job of any kind.  It's possible that an algorithm could make it difficult for a certain applicant to get a certain type of job for which they may not be a good fit.  For example, an applicant is not very trust-worthy and the position calls for them to handle money. Or the applicant is an introvert and the position calls for them to spend most of their time talking with groups of people.  Assessments do not filter out certain types or groups of people for any and all jobs.  Does. Not. Happen.
  5. The film-makers imply that in order to apply for a job you must first take a personality assessment.  That's not true either.  Many companies do not use assessments and those that use them do not use them for every role in the company.

In my expert opinion, this documentary is fake news.  While they covered both sides of the story, neither side was objective. They didn't tell the entire story while they used a broad brush to position assessments as an ugly, biased, evil tool that exists only to help corporations increase revenue while discriminating against large segments of the population.

While personality assessments do uncover an individual's personality traits and tendencies, that information is simply nice to know.  While some personality assessments claim to predict fit for a specific role, personality assessments are not predictive because predictive validity requires a correlation between assessment findings and on-the-job performance. 

On the other hand, OMG's sales-specific assessment is validated using predictive validity. The 21 Sales Core Competencies actually correlate to on-the-job performance.

Don't allow a movie, this movie, to bully you into not using assessments.  Make a decision to use the correct assessment - the one that is most predictive of success in the particular sales role for which you are hiring.  Choose OMG, named the Top Sales Assessment Tool in the world for ten consecutive years by Top Sales World and named one of the Top 20 Assessment Companies in the World by Training Industry.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, Personality Tests, hiring assessments, pre-employment test, predictive sales test

Misleading Statistics and Hiring the Wrong Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Nov 02, 2008 @ 20:11 PM

The November issue of Fortune Small Business has an article called Entrepreneurial Myth Busters. FSB has Ken Blanchard (consultant )and Scott Shane (academic) go head to head answering questions about small businesses and entrepreneurship.  While Blanchard provides insightful answers based on his years of experience working in, consulting to and writing about business, Shane provides surprising answers based on data.  I'm sure that if you read the article you'll agree that Shane's data lead to some very misleading conclusions. Academics who haven't been "out there" can fall in love with their data!

I "browsed" more than 400 articles that I have written for this Blog in the past three years and found only 22 articles where I reference Objective Management Group's data on the 400,000 salespeople that we have assessed. I've been researching, consulting to, evaluating, training, devloping and coaching CEO's, sales VP's, and their sales forces for more than 20 years.  Like Blanchard, I know what's going on out there from being out there but I also have the benefit of having data to back up my first-hand knowledge and resulting claims.

Data has its place.  For example, when Tom Peters said women make better salespeople than men, I knew that to be true - to a point - and then explained it with data.  I believe that the researchers with data should use it responsibly rather than to promote counter intuitive yet irrelevant findings to draw attention to themselves.

I'll illustrate my point by using some of our sales selection data. Take the following statistic for example:

70% of the very strongest salespeople take their assessments prior to 7 AM.

Wouldn't that fact cause you to select salespeople that take their assessments early in the morning? 

Not really. 

Additional Statistic #1 - We assess salespeople from around the world, so most of the European assessments and all of the Asian and Pacific Rim assessments are processed before 7 AM ET. 

Additional Statistic #2 - The very strongest salespeople make up only 6% of the sales population, 70% of that group would yield only 4.2 strong candidates out of 100. 

Without the additional statistics I could have led you to believe that the 7 AM statistic would be valuable!

Look at another statistic on sales selection:

80% of the strongest salespeople do not have Need for Approval.

Wouldn't this cause you to look for people who did not have need for approval?

As with the case above, no.

Additional Statistic - 38% of all salespeople do not have need for approval so you would select the right salesperson only 15% of the time!

This is one of the things that amuses me.  After developing familiarity and confidence with the assessment, a small percentage of clients will simply key in on one finding or another and believe that they can suddenly identify successful salespeople without having to use the assessment. 

Selection is never about one or two findings - it is always about a combination of findings and how that combination will impact the candidate in your business, where there is a unique set of findings that will identify a salesperson that will succeed for you.

Statistics are awesome when they're used in a way that benefits everyone.  When they're used to fool people it makes me angry.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales management, selling, Salesforce, Sales Candidate, sales evaluation, sales personality, sales statistics, Fortune, Ken Blanchard, Scott Shane, hiring assessments

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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