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

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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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