Utilizing Personality Tools to Find the Right Employees

by Dianna Brodine, managing editor
Plastics Business
Personality indexes can reveal behavioral indicators that predict adaptability, reliability, a willingness to be coached and more – allowing employers to match candidates to the jobs that require those traits.

It’s often said that people are the most important asset in any business, but what happens when that asset … isn’t? Making a bad hiring decision has consequences far beyond the financial, although the US Department of Labor and Statistics has said a poor hire can cost as much as 30 percent of that person’s first year salary potential. Other negative effects include the depressed workplace culture that can occur when a team is required to lift an individual who isn’t pulling his own weight; a decrease in customer satisfaction due to a fall in product quality or customer service; and a downward slide in efficiency as time, money and resources better spent elsewhere are poured into an employee not suited to the job.

With so many industry conversations revolving around the difficulty in finding qualified candidates, much energy has been devoted to increasing interest in manufacturing as a career, but little time has been spent talking about ways to ensure manufacturing is the right fit for the individuals being recruited. Filling a position with the wrong person can have a larger negative impact on the bottom line than an unfilled position.

At the 2015 MAPP Benchmarking Conference, a panel of plastics processing executives discussed the use of personality indexes as a method of narrowing the prospective employee field to ensure the right applicant is hired. The indexes can reveal behavioral indicators that predict adaptability, reliability, a willingness to be coached and more – allowing employers to match candidates to the jobs that require those traits.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, up to 60 percent of employees and candidates are being asked to take workplace assessments, and the assessment industry is growing at more than 10 percent per year. Tom Duffey, president and owner, Plastics Components, Inc., Germantown, Wisconsin; John Ogorek, Chief Financial Officer, Nicolet Plastics, Mountain, Wisconsin; and Tommy Johns, plant manager, Weiss-Aug Co., East Hanover, New Jersey, shared insights into how the assessments have changed the hiring processes at their facilities.

Tom Duffey
Plastics Components, Inc.
Culture Index

Some of the biggest regrets in my career have been in bad hiring decisions and the difficult consequences that come when bad hiring decisions are made. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to coach and mentor people to achieve higher levels of performance, but in some cases I was failing miserably, and I couldn’t understand why.

About four years ago, we learned about Culture Index, and it was like a light had come on. It changed the way we approach managing our organization, and it dramatically changed the way we approach bringing people into our organization.

The Culture Index is a personality profile test. It idenfities the way people are hard-wired permanently. You cannot rewire people – you can only influence them within the ways they are hard-wired. That hard-wiring can be a barrier, because we tend to hire people we like. I’ve hired and then subsequently fired a lot of people I’ve liked, but who weren’t a fit for what we were asking them to do. To take that variable out of the equation, we made a decision that any new candidate coming into the organization – every applicant, for every position – will do the Culture Index evaluation before we even meet them. Then we only interview the people who have a profile that fits the position.

Internally, we’ve developed a profile for every position in our organization, and it’s different for every role. If we’re hiring a quality auditor, our intention is to find candidates and only interview candidates who have a profile that matches the job profile. If we don’t do that, the difference creates tension, discomfort and unhappiness, and we’ll ultimately end up with a bad outcome.

Our success rate and happiness rate are much better since we started using this across the board, but the hardest lesson in utilizing Culture Index was realizing we might not like the answers we received when the assessment is done. We’ve had to be willing to accept what it tells us, and in a couple of cases, I tried to talk myself through or out of situations where the evidence was clear. My advice is not to start the process if you’re not willing to deal with the answers. If you’re not committed to it, you may end up in an uncomfortable position when it tells you something about you or your team that you’re not ready to deal with.

John Ogorek
Nicolet Plastics
The Predictive Index

I have over 20 years of experience with The Predictive Index, but we just started using it in January of 2015 at Nicolet Plastics. We currently are using it primarily in a hiring context. The Predictive Index does not necessarily find a cultural fit, but a behavioral and motivational fit between an applicant and a position. Employees are more productive when they are placed into positions where they have a natural fit.

We use the assessment early in the candidacy process. We email the assessment to candidates and use it as a screening tool to help identify applicants who have the best chance of succeeding. There’s a second prong to The Predictive Index’s approach: in addition to assessing the candidate, we also assess the position. We’re looking for fit between the two, because the closer those two profiles mirror, the less energy the employee has to expend trying to adapt their behavior vs. just being in their behavior. That’s where the real power comes from.

Not only are we assessing all candidates for every position, but we also are two-thirds through the company in assessing our existing employee base. We have profiles for most of the positions in the company, and when we’re looking at these profiles vs. the assessments, it’s rare to find an exact fit. We still have to determine whether or not they’re effective in their role, but now we have more information on why someone may be struggling and what we can do to help them. It shows us exactly how to provide opportunities through coaching or whether we may need to move them into a different position within the organization to help them succeed. We’ve emphasized to our employees that the assessment is about fit or development – there’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” score.

The Predictive Index is an important part of our evaluation process. It helps us identify a candidate’s behavioral drivers and motivational needs, but it is not a complete replacement for the hiring process. Skills, intelligence, experience and values still need to be assessed through more traditional means, but The Predictive Index provides a powerful tool to assess areas that can be difficult to put together in the traditional interview process.

Tommy Johns
Weiss-Aug Co.
TTI Success Insights

We’re using TTI Success Insights to try to get some vision into the indivdual during the hiring process, looking at behaviors, motivators, competencies and communication. I personally put the most emphasis on the behaviors and communication sections of the assessment. Those areas provide insight into how the individual communicates, in what areas the applicant may struggle to communicate and how each person likes to be communicated to – which is important, especially as we look at generational differences. The report also provides a behavioral wheel with eight different behavior styles. A dot is placed on that wheel to tell us specfically what behavioral styles are hard-wired into that individual, which gives us an idea of whether or not the person will fit within the team they would be joining.

Five years ago, we still were using handwriting analysis, but the current HR group wanted a more scientific way of evaluating applicants. The assessment has become a type of tie-breaking tool for us, as a way of differentiating between the top two or three candidates. We do not test all candidates or new hires, but we typically ask anyone moving into a position with direct reports or a higher profile to take the assessment. The reason we don’t test all applicants is cost-based – the turnover at the entry level makes it difficult to justify the cost of assessing every potential employee.

Once an employee is hired, we give the assessment to each individual to read. We encourage them to reflect on areas where they have a perceived weakness. The tests aren’t perfect, but we’ve found we can use the report as a training plan, because it’s identified the areas that could impede the employees’ abilities to succeed in their jobs, and we want to help our employees shore up those areas that have been identified.

We’ve actually lost a candidate or two because we’ve asked them to take the assessment. I’m not sure whether those individuals felt it was too intrusive or if they weren’t comfortable with the idea. To circumvent those feelings, discussions need to happen so everyone understands it’s a way to make sure both the employee and the organization are successful moving forward.


With a rise in focus on workplace culture, finding employees who are the “right fit” has never been more important. Assessments, while not definitive, assist in finding those applicants best suited to the specific job. The Predictive Index explained via its website: “An accurate personality-based assessment can provide objective insights into key personality traits intrinsically related to workplace performance. The insights help key talent functions avoid mistakes related to bias, politics, ‘gut decisions’ and chance. These types of errors can produce a litany of organizational issues that can devastate business results.”

Additional information regarding the three assessment methods discussed in the article can be found in the sidebar and on the companies’ websites.

Assessment Programs

Descriptions of each program are taken from the respective websites.

Culture Index
There must be an objective process in which you can actually identify what talent your organization is seeking. The Culture Index Program comes bundled with a position assessment, allowing executives, hiring managers and all other persons contiguous with the position to be able to objectively measure what work skills they individually want from the position to be filled. This assessment becomes the key ingredient in the talent recruitment strategy as it provides a baseline of style, demeanor, character, drive, impetus and energy from each decision maker as to the type of talent needed for that specific position. Talented accountants and engineers would not be considered to be talented salespeople, as the skills and personality required are quite opposite for the respective positions.

The Predictive Index
Through a unique blend of scientific assessments, groundbreaking software, top-notch management training and professional consulting from the world’s best workplace behavior experts, The Predictive Index can help you overcome the most complex business challenges. The Predictive Index predicts primary personality characteristics that describe, explain and predict day-to-day workplace behaviors. We’ve conducted over 500 validity studies to ensure our science-based assessments can accurately predict the drives and needs of people in any job function, in any industry, anywhere in the world. The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment is quick (it takes less than six minutes to complete) and easy to analyze. Administer assessments, review results, conduct behavioral job analysis, fit-gap analysis and look at the collective behavioral patterns for groups or teams on any device.

TTI Success Insights
TTI Success Insights develops and distributes assessments that are used to help hire, retain and develop individuals in businesses and organizations throughout the globe. We believe superior performers are selected when the job is able to talk, and our selection process begins with an understanding of the intrinsic knowledge and key accountabilities needed to be successful in a specific job. To find the best talent, we recommend executing a streamlined process that measures an individual’s behaviors (DISC), motivators and soft skill competencies for the job in question.