Back in the ‘80s I took my first DiSC personality assessment and its cousin, the Predictive Index (PI). Like the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI), these types of assessments involve a series of either/or questions like, “Would you rather attend a beer bust or do root cause analysis?” The DiSC and PI tests concluded I liked to persuade people with a hammer and that I was a weak analyst.
While I prefer to party and argue, my core competency is detailed multifunctional analytics.
The problem is that these tests – including the MBTI – measure preferences, not competencies. Worse, they ignore the fact that the strongest people can modify their preferred style based on the needs of the situation. As a result, these tests should never be used for screening purposes since they cause too many false positives and false negatives.
Despite this, they are quite useful for assessing the 3-4 finalists for a job to see how their natural style has impacted their team performance either positively or negatively. But the BEST test is a better one-minute no cost alternative.
Interviewers Should Take the BEST Test Before Candidates Do
Over the years I created an 80/20 Pareto version (maybe 90/10) of these assessments calling it the BEST test. While you can use it for assessing candidates during the interview, it’s more useful for interviewers to take it just before they interview anyone to help expose and control their biases. Here’s the entire process:
- Put yourself on the right side of the 2X2 BEST matrix if you prefer to make quick decisions and on the left if you’re more cautious. (If it takes you more than 30 seconds to figure this out, you’re on the left side.)
- Assign yourself to the top half if you tend to focus more on results than people and on the bottom half if the reverse is true.
Based on this analysis you’re either a Boss, Engager, Supporter or Technical. Read the descriptions in the graphic to see if they’re reasonably close for you. The center is the coaching position. Flexible people adopt this style to better understand others’ points of view. The minus sign indicates movement away from the coaching position and describes how inflexible people react when under stress.
Increase Interview Accuracy by Becoming Your Diagonal Opposite
You can move towards the coaching position and become a more objective interviewer by adopting the attributes of your diagonally opposite style. Here’s how:
- The Boss: By listening more before judging a candidate’s answers and asking about team projects, the Boss can be more like a Supporter.
- The Supporter: Getting lots of metrics and details about the results the candidate has achieved allows a Supporter to become Boss-like.
- The Engager: Engagers can become like Techies by digging into the process the candidate used to achieve results rather than making instant decisions on personality.
- The Technical: Techies can become Engagers by shifting their emphasis from determining technical brilliance to finding out how the person collaborated and influenced people on their team projects to achieve results.
Assess Team Skills by Observing Changes in BEST Type Over Time
You’ll be able to assess team and critical thinking skills by determining if a candidate naturally moves to the coaching position whenever the person is trying to fully understand all sides of an issue and whether this movement is situational or permanent.
One way to do this is to ask candidates to give a few different examples of team accomplishments over the past few years. As part of this, get examples of decision-making, problem-solving and handling conflict where different BEST styles would logically be needed to fully understand the situation and find the best solution. After a few accomplishments at different periods in time, you’ll see patterns emerge revealing whether the candidate modified his/her dominant BEST style to meet the needs of the situation or uses a “one size fits all situations” approach. Raise the caution flag high when you see people who are this one-sided or who become more extreme in their natural style.
Use the BEST Test to Confirm Ability Rather Than Predict It
BEST and similar personality type indicators have their good and bad points. Since they only assess preferences, not competencies, these tests should not be used for screening candidates before they’re interviewed. However, it is appropriate to use these types of tests for the short-list of finalists to determine how they adopt their natural style based on the circumstances. More important is for interviewers to take this test ahead of time to override their natural decision-making approach to evaluate candidates more objectively. This is actually the BEST way to improve interviewing accuracy and hire the right person for the right reasons.