While personality tests like BEST are useful confirming indicators, they're not predictive. Regardless, they do have value when used to understand how a person's personality has changed over time.
Since Jung-based personality assessments like DISC, MBTI, Predictive Index and BEST, measure preferences instead of competencies, they are inappropriate for screening purposes. Regardless, they can be used during the interview to better understand the process candidates use to achieve their results.
Horizontal Axis: Do you prefer to make decisions quickly with limited data (right) or are you more cautious and prefer lots of data before deciding (left)?
Vertical Axis: When working on a team project are you more interested in the needs of the people (bottom) on the team or on achieving the results (top)?
By itself, someone's BEST style has little value, but using it as a guide can help improve interviewing accuracy significantly. Here’s how:
Use Simply the BEST Personality Test to Increase Interviewer Objectivity
- Prepare a performance-based job description to assess the person's competency, fit and motivation. I could write a book about this but this short post will demonstrate why skills-laden job descriptions are bad as assessment tests for screening candidates.
- Conduct the interview using your diagonally opposite BEST style. If you're an intuitive decision-maker (those on the right), slow way down. Focus on the process of success, not just the person's assertiveness and first impression. If you're a more cautious decision-maker (those on the left) don't just focus on the depth of the person's technical or team skills. Instead, understand how he/she collaborated with others to achieve significant technical and business results.
- Eliminate the bias of other interviewers. During the debriefing session filter each interviewer's assessment by his or her BEST style bias. One way to do this is to use evidence, not emotions to make a yes/no decision.
- Organize the interview by BEST style. Force people out of their BEST comfort zone by having them ask performance-based questions about their less dominant styles. For example, have Engagers ask about the person's most significant technical accomplishment. The Performance-based Interview I advocate describes this process.
Understand How the Candidate's BEST Style Affected Performance
- Determine the candidate's dominant BEST style. Dig into a few of the candidate's most recent significant accomplishments figuring out how he/she made major decisions and overcame big problems. The candidate's BEST style will stand out.
- Determine competency by style. Ask the person to describe a major accomplishment for each BEST style. Get one for results achieved, one for influencing others, one for a big team project and one for analytical thinking or technical prowess. This will also reveal the differences between competencies and preferences.
- Assess flexibility across styles. As you ask these BEST performance-based questions notice if the person is able to adapt his or her style depending on the circumstances. The best people can. This is a sign of growth, maturity, potential and cultural fit. Be concerned if the person tends to use one or two styles for all situations. This indicates the person is inflexible and less able to adapt to changing circumstances.
- Assess ability to deal with different types of people. For each major project have the candidate describe everyone on the team and their roles and levels. Then get examples of how the person dealt with conflict and/or influenced those who were different styles, different functions and were more senior and junior to the candidate.
- Evaluate competency growth in dominant style over time. As part of asking performance-based questions look for changes in the size, scope, scale and complexity of the person's accomplishments over the past 5-10 years. Alone, this trend of growth is revealing, but also evaluate how the person grew in his or her core BEST style. For example, has a Technical become more proficient handling more difficult technical challenges or has a Supporter dealt with more complex business issues dealing with more senior level executives?
- Map the candidate's BEST style to actual job needs. To be considered a serious candidate the person's accomplishments need to compare on a scope, scale, complexity and style standpoint. This Quality of Hire Talent Scorecard will help you determine a good fit.
BEST-like assessments are useful as a confirming measure of performance but should be used carefully or not at all for pre-screening purposes. The either/or nature of the questions is a fundamental weakness associated with all of these types of tests. For example, a person may prefer to make quick decisions but when the situation calls for in-depth analysis the person might be fully competent. Using the performance-based interviewing approach described here and focusing on changes in BEST styles over time addresses this either/or problem. That's why this BEST test is simply, the best.