As Seen in CFO Studio Magazine 2015 Q3 Issue
Can companies achieve the perfect workforce by analyzing the psyche of prospective employees? The big-data companies designing these tests say yes, and more and more employers are inclined to agree. Everyone from the Chili’s restaurant chain to the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, administers personality tests to prospective and current employees looking for the correlation between people’s answers and their job success rate.
Relying on equal parts psychological assessment, New Age questioning, and mathematical algorithms, this fast-growing $2 billion industry purports to define and measure the behavioral, cognitive, and cultural traits that make up a successful employee.
But can these tests really predict job performance? Like the I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient) and E.Q. (Emotional Quotient) assessments, the X.Q. test is supposed to match the best people to the jobs at which they will most excel. However, algorithms cannot always account for the human factor. People have the capacity to learn and take on new skill sets, even becoming extremely successful doing jobs that go against personality type. (Case in point: We are all charging our iPhones right now thanks to Nikola Tesla, the ultimate loner and recluse. How would Tesla have fared on an X.Q. test?) Until the effectiveness of “people analytics” passes the test of time, a good vetting of the resume and face-to-face interview may still be the best ways to find successful employees.