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Question for creative directors and other design leads: do you use personality tests as part of your hiring process?

On a recent “Seeking Wisdom” podcast* about how to hire talent, David Cancel stated that he has candidates (and employees) take a personality test when joining his company, Drift. Specifically, he mentioned a free online site called 16Personalities.com.

*He starts talking about personality tests at the 17:00 minute mark.

 

When I heard this, I first hot take: “I get it, but it sounds a little creepy.” No one wants to be defined by the results of some test psychologists (or not) made up. I’m more than the results of some multiple choice survey.

But I continued to think about it. As a creative director and team lead, I recognize implicitly that I can’t manage everyone exactly the same. People respond to different management styles and interactions. I view it as my job to learn what style works best for each individual and adapt my approach accordingly.

I think back to the teams I’ve lead over the past few years. I’ve had both extremely extroverted designers and others that were quite shy. Some do well in a group setting where ideas are being explored and others I could get more out of with 1:1 discussions about the work. I would always encourage discussion from those that would sit quietly (and sometimes get the more outspoken members to dial it back a little). What I’ve learned is that the work is greatest when the team collectively contributes. So I have tailored what I say and do to each person working on my team.

*for a great long read on team dynamics and better production, check out this NYT Magazine piece about Google’s research into how to build the perfect team.

And this is Cancel’s point. To be an effective manager, you have to recognize that each designer, developer, etc. is different; manage appropriately.

So I took the 16Personalities.com test. This was my first time taking such a test.

My result is ENFJ-A

16Personalities.com labels me as a protagonist personality.

“Protagonists are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma.”

I confess, I feel like sharing that is a bit of a humble brag. But the takeaway is that I felt the description was true about me (though I don’t think of myself as extroverted as the result suggests… ok THAT was a humblebrag).

The result was for me indicative of my personality (or so I think). And if that’s the case, it can possibly point the way to other testers. And information like this is helpful in managing people.

my test results

my test results

I don’t think a manager should consider the result of a personality test as ironclad. New information and insights about a person and their behavior will always be forthcoming and a good leader needs to recognize that and continue to evolve their approach. I don’t know that I like the idea of using the test as deciding factor in hiring. But I do think it can help the manager better manage people.

So back to my original question: anyone out there using personality tests in hiring?

At my company — a large, global agency, I don’t think the lawyers that be would allow me to incorporate this tool (to be fair, I’ve not asked). I suspect anyone I brought this to would stop at my own initial thought. But I think using such a tool in the proper way, and properly weighted (which is to say, not definitive), it could be a valuable tool.

What does everyone else think?

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