As a consultant working with organizations we use a personality profiling tool with every client. I favor a simple but effective survey called ProScan. There are a lot of benefits to using an assessment tool. The first benefit for me as a consultant is that gives me a frame of reference to begin working with a new client and a common language to proceed with. As a consultant I am forced to use my own observations and listen to the opinions of those I meet with but that only gives me a partial picture. As a volunteer or employee working in an environment on a daily basis, interacting with people under different circumstances I have a full perspective of what the people and the culture are like. As a consultant I do not have that upper-hand. Although a tool like ProScan cannot tell me everything, it can give me a base line. I learn very quickly who is more likely to be a take charge person; who is more likely to do more talking than listening; who seeks change and who may be resistant to it; and who is more systematic vs. those that are more big picture oriented. I also know “off the bat” who seeks to avoid conflict and who comes at it head-on.
Using a hiring tool allows you identify the difference between the person you are seeing in an interview and the person you are actually hiring. That is huge! (As an LCSW doing counseling with engaged couples I would highly recommend using a behavioral assessment tool for the same reason – learning who you think you’re marrying vs. who you are actually marrying is huge too!).
It is important when using a assessment tools to be careful to remember that two people can have very similar profiles but still be quite unique from each other. All of our life experiences and our values play in to how our behavioral traits show up in real life versus on paper. Someone who is dishonest will never be a good fit for a position even though their profile aligns perfectly with your expectations. Assessment tools should not be used to put people in a box but rather to establish baseline information that help you to identify some key traits of an individual- particularly when you do not know the person and/or you need to work closely with them within a sort period of time.
I would recommend using a legitimate assessment tool for any or all hires. They are a key tool in finding the best fit for any given position and provide you with an enormous amount of information with very little effort required on the part of the employer or the candidate. The same is true for team dynamics. Every team needs a good balance of team-members’ strengths. They cannot all be alike and they cannot be in constant conflict over their differences. An assessment tool can help when putting a team together and also when managing a team.
In summary, it is hard to imagine a time when using an assessment tool would not benefit you. As long as you do not use such tools to pigeon-hole people or box them in, you can obtain a solid baseline of how a person naturally responds and create a common language to clearly understand each others’ strengths.