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  • Writer's pictureRuss Powell

A Caution Against Using DiSC and Myers-Briggs When Making Hiring Decisions



The DiSC work-styles assessment and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) are two well-known personality assessments. I'm fond of both of them. But while they may seem like helpful tools for making hiring decisions, they come with significant limitations. I recommend them for team-building activities on occasion, but I urge my clients to avoid using them in the hiring process. Here's why.


Both DiSC and MBTI categorize people into distinct personality types or boxes, rather than viewing traits on a spectrum. Modern psychological research suggests that it's more accurate and useful to consider personality traits as existing on a continuum. For example, instead of labeling someone as simply "Conscientious," it's better to say they are more conscientious than a certain percentage of the population.


Another issue with DiSC and MBTI is that they don't compare an individual's scores to a larger group of people, which means they can't reliably predict job performance. Normative personality tests, on the other hand can make these comparisons and find links between certain traits and job success. The Hogan assessments are a good example of normative personality assessments. (I use the Hogan inventories when coaching leaders and when helping my clients make hiring decisions.)


DiSC assessments, in particular, have several additional limitations:


(1) Reliability and consistency – Research raises questions about the test-retest reliability of DiSC, meaning that individuals may receive different results when taking the test at different times.


(2) Lack of predictive validity – Critics argue that DiSC may not accurately predict a person's success in a particular role or context.


(3) Oversimplification of personality traits – By dividing personalities into just four types, DiSC risks oversimplifying the complex nature of human personality and neglecting important nuances.


(4) Absence of normative data – As I mentioned, DiSC assessments lack normative data, which is essential for comparing individual scores with an appropriate reference group. This limits the tool's application in recruitment.


(5) Lack of peer-reviewed research – Compared to other personality assessments, there is a relative lack of independent, peer-reviewed research supporting the DiSC model, which raises questions about its scientific credibility.


Even the companies that create DiSC assessments (at least the reputable ones) acknowledge that they shouldn't be used for hiring. They point out that DiSC doesn't measure the specific skills or qualities needed for a particular job and can't predict how well someone will perform in that role.


While DiSC can be useful for things like considering which employees might work together or if someone's behavioral style fits the company culture, it's not a good tool for screening job candidates. For that purpose, it's better to use validated normative assessments that are based on personality rather than just behavior.


So, while DiSC and MBTI can be valuable for personal growth and team building, they are not good choices for making hiring decisions. It's best to rely on personality tests specifically designed for predicting job performance and to consult with a psychometrics specialist to find the most appropriate tools for your needs.


 

If you have interest in using the Hogan assessments for selection or development, let me know.


Additionally, I'm a skilled facilitator of DiSC workshops for use in team-building initiatives.


If you'd like to discuss use of any of these tools, please contact me.


 

Come join us for my next Leadership and the Middle Path workshop and take your leadership skills to the next level.

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