Want to know what your company’s employees are all about? Don’t ask them, ask someone else.
A new study revealed that businesses will get more accurate assessments of employees and potential employees when they eliminate self-rated personality tests and instead have someone else rate them.
As part of the study, 111 employees self-rated their performance and then were rated by both personal acquaintances and co-workers. The results showed that both types of outside observers gave equally fair evaluations of other people and that those employees who overestimated their agreeableness and conscientiousness — the most predictive characteristics for performance — performed worse on the job than those who did not overestimate those traits.
"It’s not so much that observers are thinking only about the one particular context that the evaluation is for, but it’s more that they have a less clouded view of a person," said researcher and professor Brian Connelly, of the University of Toronto, who conducted the study.
Based on the study, Connelly believes companies would be better off having someone other than the job candidate assess their personality.
"One possible thing would be for those applying for jobs to nominate someone else to rate their personality rather than doing it themselves, and then you might have a better workforce," Connelly said.
Observer-rated personality measures may also be more useful for current employees getting developmental feedback on the job, Connelly said.
"If we’re basing all the responses on self-reports, which is the norm, rather than having somebody else giving them the feedback, then we may be handing people's biased perceptions right back to them," he said.
The study, co-authored by Ute Hülsheger of Maastricht University, was recently published in the Journal of Personality.