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PsychTech and the Future of Virtual Hiring with Personality Testing

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The term, PsychTech, normally refers to the psychology technology sector – companies that build products that help us to understand the human mind and behaviour.

Such technology is most likely to be used by HR professionals, especially in the hiring of senior positions, recruitment agencies, and management consultants. One of the many ‘side effects’ of the COVID-19 pandemic is the exponential increase in virtual hiring, assessments, and performance reviews, and while Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing software can be hugely helpful, they are in no way a substitute for being in the same room as someone.

Increasingly, employers are turning to PsychTech and personality testing when it comes to virtual new hires and assessments. While large corporates have fully adopted technology for initial screening, the underlying concern remains. Can the tech compete with human intuition in these times when interviews and assessments will not take place in offices or board rooms?

The ‘gut feeling’

Pre-pandemic, it is unlikely you would have found many hiring managers trusting assessment results over their gut feeling about a person, but that instinct is not as easy to tap into when hires take place online. 70% of HR professionals agree virtual interviews are now the new standard going forward, but video calls provide far less accuracy when it comes to ‘reading’ someone’s body language, tone of voice, and all the other myriad clues that make up what an interviewee communicates to the interviewer.

Interest and investment in PsychTech have skyrocketed over the last 12 months. For example, more money was invested in PsychTech in the first quarter of 2020 than in the whole of 2019. But the tech must get it right – it must focus on what adds value to the end-user, the individuals whose pain points these products are supposedly addressing. 

For employees, personality tests and assessments must provide insight into something they could not have figured out by themselves and display the results in a way that is easy to understand – and work with. Two-thirds of firms who have learning and development budgets are planning to increase their spend this year – this shows us the market trend is very much aligned with the value propositions of PsychTech.

A fundamental human curiosity

Wanting to know what other people think of you is a fundamental human curiosity, and one that’s very hard to fulfil in a meaningful and healthy way. Too much need of it indicates low self-esteem, too little reveals a lack of self-awareness. There is a fine line between self-awareness and self-consciousness, and many of the performance assessments employees experience are office politics minefields, rather than vehicles for constructive feedback. 

innerworks’ 360 personality model for management consultants, HR staff, recruiters, and line managers is designed to facilitate totally honest feedback between employer and employee that is constructive at the same time. 

Greg Serapio-García of the University of Cambridge’s personality and social dynamics research group, and innerworks’ lead research scientist, says: ‘We have decades of academic research showing how personality traits predict behaviours that benefit the output of any organisation: job performance, workplace citizenship, and creativity.’

To improve employee well-being and team dynamics, one must start with self-awareness as behaviour cannot change unless someone has the knowledge of how others perceive them or how their behaviour comes across. This is the critical component to improving relationships at work.

The importance of employee personality testing 

If you work as a hiring manager, a question often asked is, what is the most useful thing to know – how a candidate sees themselves or how other people view them? Most personality assessments only report on the former, but if the knowledge of both is in place, a decision can be made based on more insightful data.

Employees have limited ways to express feedback in an open and honest way, let alone anonymously. But 360 personality modelling allows for non-confrontational and constructive communication of how behaviour is perceived by others, which removes the fear factor from feedback.

If you are a prospective candidate for a position, imagine how insightful and revealing it would be if you could gain insight into the team you might be joining beforehand? The likes of Glassdoor (the website where current and former employees anonymously review companies) has certainly demonstrated that there is a demand for transparency. 

Imagine how much trust could be built if potential candidates could be shown credible analytics about the team?

‘innerworks takes the science of personality assessment seriously,’ Greg Serapio-García adds. ‘We’re implementing research-backed techniques that not only improve the efficiency and reliability of our tests but also ensure our users’ responses are credible and valid – both areas remain problematic in conventional HR assessment.’

Oliver Quie, co-founder and CEO of innerworks, a big-data-driven personality assessment platform. innerworks employs crowdsourced, anonymised opinions to deliver a reliable 360° personality analysis ending subjectivity and gaming of such tests.

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