How personality tests solve 3 TA challenges for tech jobs


When you hire the right people, you build a team that’s more productive, energized and wants to stick around. 

But a candidate who looks good on paper and aces the interview might not line up with your company culture, while someone whose resume doesn’t match the job description 100% (or who can’t shake those interview jitters) could become your best-performing employee.

So how do you hire the best candidate, not just the best resume writer or interviewer? And how do you keep them around for the long haul? We sat down with Rachel Stewart Johnson, PhD, a psychology specialist at Traitify for a webinar on how personality tests like the Big Five can solve some of the biggest tech hiring challenges: attracting, engaging and retaining top talent.

Challenge #1: You’re not standing out to the right tech talent

Are you boring people out of applying for your open roles? Traditional recruiting experiences tend to have the same look and feel. Virtually everyone uses an ATS, for instance, so the mechanics of applying to a position are the same from one company to another.

Plus, if everyone is using similar language to describe what makes their role and company appealing, it dilutes your message. The good news? You don’t need a cool, quirky brand (or a bring-your-dog-to-work perk) to start attracting the right tech talent. 

How personality tests can solve it

Personality tests are an interactive way to break up the job application monotony and make your candidate experience distinctive and memorable. It also gives candidates a takeaway—i.e., even if they aren’t hired, they get something in return (instead of their application getting lost in the job search black hole). 

This puts the human touch back into the process of applying for a job (which job seekers crave) and adds a fun, creative twist to the usual hiring routine. Not only that, but studies show that personality quizzes are irresistible (and even addicting)—whether someone wants to find out what their ideal work style is or what character from The Office they are.

Beyond positively impacting candidate experience, personality tests give visibility into if a candidate is right for your company culture (without introducing personal bias). They can help determine if a candidate is a good match for the position, too. For instance, a candidate who enjoys moving fast might technically match the job description, but will they really be happy in a role that involves daily meetings and slow-moving processes? According to Stewart Johnson, high job satisfaction begins at the recruitment level:

“Someone who wants the stimulation of a more fast-paced environment and isn’t in it will over time start to get fatigued and less engaged,” she says, “And you can imagine how that’s the kind of person who is then going to get the wandering eyes and be looking for a different opportunity elsewhere.”

Challenge #2: You depend too much on resumes

It’s a “keyword world” when it comes to resumes. The problem is, this kind of system can be easily gamed (i.e., people with keyword awareness often score higher than those whose skills and experience are a closer match for the role).

There are several other challenges recruiters face when screening tech resumes: 

  • Resumes frequently contain exaggerations, omissions or half-truths. In fact, one in three people admit to telling a white lie on their resume and 75% of hiring managers have detected resume inaccuracies. 
  • Resumes are quick snapshots of the past. They don’t tell you anything about the person’s personality and may or may not have great predictive power into job performance.
  • There are lots of things resumes don’t reveal. What’s missing? A candidate’s soft skills (e.g., ambition, ownership, empathy), goals, work style and motivators.

Resumes are a good starting point, but they should be only one piece of the puzzle when determining whether a candidate moves forward or not in the hiring process. (One company even saw favorable results by hiring without looking at a single resume, instead asking tech candidates to write about something they’ve built.)

How personality tests can solve it

Qualifications, skills and experience are important, but it’s also important to contextualize resumes with a more nuanced understanding of the whole person. Maybe they have a track record of meeting tight deadlines, for instance, but have trouble managing their anger in stressful situations. A personality test can reveal concerns like these.

They can also help you get more out of interviews. We tend to like people who are like us (e.g., fans of the same sports teams), but emotional reactions to interviews aren’t productive. Instead, Stewart Johnson recommends leveraging a candidate’s personality data to guide the discussion.

For example, if someone rates low on adaptability, but your company is a fast-paced startup, take that as a cue to dive deeper into how they’ll perform in this kind of environment. This will boost interview productivity and even standardize interviews across candidates to help eliminate unconscious bias.

Finally, personality data can be used to generate “match scores” that can improve your time to hire metric. When one of Stewart Johnson’s clients was hiring for a managerial role, she used benchmarks based on the Big Five personality dimensions to determine which candidates were likely to succeed in the role. On average, candidates who were put into the “preferred” category based on their test results were hired in 30 days. Those who were put into the “potential risk” category had a hiring time nearly twice as long.

Watch the full webinar for more tips on how to go beyond the resume

Challenge #3: You’re losing employees because they have no sense of meaning or impact

Today’s tech talent wants to make a positive impact, especially Gen-Z. If your employees feel like they’re making a difference, they’re more likely to put in extra effort and stay longer than disengaged employees. In short, they’re not just satisfied with their job, they’re energized by it.

Companies have tapped into the “search for meaning” at the recruitment level, but how can you extend this into on-the-job practice? Post-hire discussions around personality show employees that you’re not just talking the talk, but walking the walk, according to Stewart Johnson.

How personality tests can solve it

Personality tests can help you retain talent by:

Showing you care about developing the whole person. So employees can maximize their strengths, address their challenges and understand the settings they work best in, as well as come up with a vision for their progress within the company.

Improving communication and understanding. By using personality insights, you can structure better-performing teams and assign people to tasks based on their strengths and weaknesses. Employees feel like they’re having a real impact because teams are productive and harmonious.

Helping you identify and support different work styles. People in the tech space, for instance, might work best during non-traditional business hours. If you understand that early on through personality tests, you can maximize their productivity and keep burnout at bay. 

Get to know tech candidates on a deeper level (both pre- and post-hire)

While personality tests shouldn’t make or break your hiring decisions, they can guide you to your next hire faster, even surfacing candidates you might have overlooked. Plus, they can improve your candidate experience and retention rates along the way.

So even though someone might lack the experience or skills you hoped they’d have (or the right keywords on their resume), personality tests can help ensure you’re not overlooking the best candidates for your open roles.

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