A Wild Thought on Personality Assessments Inspired by Gladwell by Mark Goldman, CPA

Last week I was listening to a podcast where Malcolm Gladwell, the accomplished author and journalist, was being interviewed. It was a general interview and covered several aspects of his life, but one particularly insightful comment left me with a topic I desperately felt the need to write about…

Personality assessments are widely used for pre-employment screening in today’s market. Some are meant to be used as pre-employment screening tools and some are not.  However, whether or not they are meant for that purpose it is up to the user to decide what decisions they will make based on the particular assessment.

Gladwell’s comment was that it is not so much a person’s “inclinations” that matter, but more so how they compensate for those inclinations.  This comment really struck me.  Personality assessments are frequently built to help discover a person’s natural inclinations, and then recommendations are made regarding the individual for the giver of the assessment to consider.  However, I’m not sure that most assessments are built in such a way to measure the extent to which someone works at compensating for those inclinations and thereby better their performance in a given situation.  In other words, assessments don’t always measure the individual’s determination to be successful, which can make all the difference in the world.

So what is the point of this post…?

Personality assessments are highly useful – in fact, I use them for my own company when doing internal hiring.  However, it is important to use them as they are intended – to give you additional insight into characteristics of an individual and not as the ultimate deciding factor on whether or not someone is capable of performing in a specific position.  Their determination to be successful also needs to be considered.

Sometimes hiring a very determined individual that has areas they can continue to develop in but that is constantly looking to better themselves can be better than hiring an individual with innate ability but without the same level determination to constantly improve.

I would very much welcome your comments.

Until next time, I wish you the best in all your searches.

Mark Goldman CPA

Mark sketch blue background (3)

Mark Goldman is the founder of MGR Accounting Recruiters, a San Antonio based recruiting company whose primary business is the placement of accounting professionals in both permanent and contract positions.


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