In a recent post over at ERE, the author mentions a website that provides employers with the ability to screen candidates based on a measure of personality that applicants complete online.
My reading of this article prompted the following internal debate:
Me #1: Boy oh boy, is that ever a bad idea. The Uniform Guidelines clearly state (Q&A #75) that a measure of a trait or construct cannot be validated based on content validity, which is what most employers are likely to rely on in this situation.
Me #2: Ah yes, but because personality tests typically result in much less adverse impact than traditional cognitive tests, are the Uniform Guidelines even likely to come into play?
Me #1: Maybe not, but you never know until you go through a selection process, so why take the risk?
Me #2: What about in cases where the numbers being screened are so small that adverse impact analysis is likely to be wonky? (that's a technical term)
Me #1: Well that may well be different, but you're missing the point.
Me #2: What is the point?
Me #1: That employers should use caution before screening based on constructs such as personality. They need to take validation seriously.
Me #2: But isn't it good that they're using an instrument that's at least based on an evidence-based theory of personality (the Big 5)?
Me #1: Absolutely, and props to them. But it is still incumbent on employers to realize the legal risks as well as the implications of using a self-report personality screen as a first hurdle.
Me #2: Fine, but aren't you being a little hypocritical? Haven't you said one of your goals is a giant database where applicant information can be matched with employer needs?
Me #1: True, but I was thinking more along the lines of verifiable skills testing, not self-report inventories.
Me #2: Actually in that post you specifically refer to Big 5 assessments.
Me #1: Hey! This isn't about me. This is about warning employers to make sure they know what they're doing when they screen based on personality measures.
Me #2: Aren't you making an awful lot of assumptions about the website's process without having actually used it or talked to the owners?
Me #1: Well, yes, but I'm a blogger. That's what we do.
Me #2: Ugh.