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Are you open about your feelings? Do you prefer to do things by yourself? Do you cry during movies? Have you ever answered questions like these during a job interview? If your answer is yes, then chances are you’ve been interviewed by a firm that uses psychological testing as part of its hiring process. Jeffrey N. Berman, managing partner at Berman Fink Van Horn, says his firm, which has 13 lawyers and eight support staff, has been using these tests as part of its hiring process for eight years. “We test people we are prepared to hire,” he says. During the interview process, the firm tells all prospective hires, including lawyers and support staff, that they will be required to take a personality test if an offer is made. Thanks to psychological testing, Berman says, “we believe we have a handle on the type of attorney that is going to be happy and successful here.” The personality profile Berman’s firm uses is based on random questions such as: Would you rather be a preacher, a newspaper reporter or a lawyer? Berman Fink Van Horn uses a Ph.D. psychologist, Kevin Hickey, to do the testing. Hickey evaluates the test and sends a written report to the firm at a cost of $600 per test taker. TYPES OF QUESTIONS Other testers use different types of questions. Atlanta-based Corporate Psychology Resources, for example, offers an online testing tool, TalentQuest, which has 188 questions and includes a personality questionnaire and a problem-solving section. The test is sold as a monthly subscription and costs between $50 and $150 per test taker, depending on the number of people who take it. Test takers read statements asking them if they “talk to a lot of different people at parties,” “read a lot,” are “hard to get to know” and “do things by the book.” They’re asked to rank how well those statements apply to them on a five-point scale that ranges from very inaccurate to very accurate. No matter what the questions, the goal is to learn if the person would fit in at the firm. Frank M. Merritt, president of Corporate Psychology Resources, says the firm finds out whether the lawyer is likely to be compatible with its culture — information that can “increase retention and lower turnover rates,” he adds. And Berman says, “These tests can be beneficial to both the firm and the potential employee. If you get an understanding of someone’s personality at the beginning, it can be used as a management tool for mentoring and managing a person while employed.” For example, he says, if the test shows that a worker likes a lot of praise, supervisors know what they need to do to help that worker perform well. DEVELOPING AN EFFECTIVE TEST If you’re thinking about using psychological testing as part of your hiring process, it’s best to work with an outside vendor to develop the test. Merritt says that the test must have validity, meaning it measures what it purports to measure, and reliability, meaning that it yields the same results if given again to the same person under the same circumstances. Merritt says the biggest disadvantage of this type of testing is over-reliance, when firms focus too much on the test and not enough on the whole package of the potential employee — including r�sum�, references and interview performance. He also says that the test generally backfires if the company doesn’t know what it’s looking for or the job challenges change. He suggests that companies form a “competency model” — a list of traits that are important in their environment. Berman says psychological testing has proven useful at his firm. “It never ceases to amaze me how accurate it really is,” he says, adding that the test has never proved inaccurate with anyone they’ve hired. And, yes, the firm has had candidates who looked great during the interview process but later were rejected because their personality profile didn’t match firm culture. But here’s your last personality question: Wouldn’t you rather know that at the beginning?

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