So you’ve found the perfect candidate for your open position – a highly-skilled professional with an exemplary industry background and experience to match. 

There’s only one problem. 

Your new hire is not that agreeable, and you and your team are having trouble connecting with them. They might be likely to procrastinate tasks if work gets busy, or frequently disagree with team leads on project strategy and concept.

Not accounting for candidates’ soft skills and essential behavioral traits is one of the leading causes of hiring mistakes, which affects nearly three of four companies, according to CareerBuilder. 

Among the most common “bad hire” clues:

  • 53% of employers cite negative attitude,
  • 50% of employers cite unwillingness to be a team player, and
  • 46% of employers cite attendance problems.

So even if your candidate has all the necessary qualifications, they still might not be a good fit for their role, both on a professional and personal level. A proven way to make sure you’re hiring the right applicant is using behavioral testing.

In this article, we’ll cover:

Behavioral tests fall into hiring essentials today.

What is Behavioral Assessment?

A behavioral assessment is a type of pre-employment test which focuses on your candidates’ personality traits and assesses how they might react in potential workplace situations.

While skills tests are a valuable assessment of the candidate’s competency, it’s important to remember new skills can always be learned, and existing skills can be developed over time. 

Behavioral traits, however, are harder to change. They are even more important indicators of how your candidate will perform in their role and fit in with your organization. With behavioral testing, you learn about what makes your candidate tick – what motivates them, what brings them stress, and how they work to resolve common workplace issues.

According to a SHRM survey, behavioral assessments are commonly used across different positions, especially when hiring for middle management and executive positions:

  • 32% of HR professionals use behavioral tests for hiring executives
  • 28% of HR professionals use behavioral tests for middle management

This is because personality and behavior play a very large role in positions that require leadership and management. 

If you’re hiring for more of an operations role, behavioral testing may still be helpful for your decision making process. It can provide valuable insight into your candidate – from their relationship with time management and stress, to how they work as part of a team.

How Do Behavioral Tests Work?

With behavioral assessment, there are no wrong or right answers. Instead, scores will reflect the candidate’s worldview and attitude towards work.

Typically, behavioral tests include multiple-choice answers or answers on a rating scale. Some behavioral tests will also have open-ended questions, which let the candidate fill in the blanks. While descriptive answers are harder to turn into clean, objective data points, open-ended questions allow you to understand the candidate in their own words. 

Types of Behavior Assessment

When it comes to behavioral assessments for employment, they can be broadly categorized into two types:

  • Universal tests. Universal behavioral tests are not designed with a specific job role in mind. They can be used to give you a broad picture of your candidate’s behavioral traits – and then it’s up to you and your team to decide if a candidate is suitable for the position. Commonly used universal behavioral tests include the OCEAN (also known as The Big Five) test and the “16 types” test.

  • Position-specific tests. Behavioral tests designed with a specific role in mind tend to be more focused on personality traits that align best with the demands of a certain job. For example, customer service aptitude tests will zero in on the candidate’s ability to communicate clearly, problem-solving, and provide service – some of the most important traits of a customer service professional. If you’re hiring with a very specific profile in mind, using a position-specific test is advised.

You can also opt for fully customized behavioral testing. Customized tests accommodate both for the demands of the position, as well as specific profile types you might be searching for to expand your team. These are tailored to your job description.

The blend of forms and questions available when crafting such a behavioral assessment gives hiring managers unique, detailed information about the applicants.

Read more about different types of behavioral tests in our previous blog: "Behavioral Assessment for Job Candidates 101"

Choose between general and position-related pre-employment behavioral assessments to find the right hire.

How are Behavioral Assessments Different from Cognitive Tests?

Because both cognitive and behavioral assessments are psychometric tests, sometimes it’s easy to confuse the two. The core difference is what each is measuring: learning capacity vs. situational judgment.

Cognitive tests measure the candidate’s capacity to grow and learn on the job. With cognitive testing, you’ll learn how your applicant processes information, their ability to problem-solve, and how they approach decision-making. If a candidate receives a relatively low score on a skills assessment, but scores high on their cognitive test, that shows they are very likely to quickly learn the skills necessary for their role, and should not be quickly dismissed from the hiring pool.

Behavioral assessment tests can measure the candidates’ situational awareness and judgment. They will show how a candidate will react to common workplace issues, such as overwhelming workloads, time management, and stressful customer situations. 

For the best possible overview of your candidate’s personality and behavior, it is often recommended to administer both types of test.

What Do Behavioral Tests Actually Measure?

We’ve mentioned that behavioral tests can measure the candidates’ situational judgment. But how is that information presented in each score report?

Typically, the results of a behavioral test are presented through a list of select personality traits. Attached to the description of a personality trait will be the candidate’s score on this particular attribute. 

Some of the more important traits to consider when searching for a new hire are:

  • Adaptability. In today’s quick-paced, dominantly hybrid workplace, an adaptable hire is everything. A person’s adaptability translates to how quickly they can pick up new skills and learn to use different programs, how easily they can find a good work rhythm and connect with new team members, as well as how they react if a sudden change throws off their entire schedule for the day or the week. 
  • Competitiveness. While competitiveness can sometimes be viewed negatively, it still has its good sides. Candidates with a moderate to high competitiveness score are most often the ones to push themselves further, upping their results with each project. Competitive candidates prioritize professional growth – meaning they will put effort not only into their own work, but also into motivating teammates to try harder and aim higher.

  • Teamwork. Perhaps the most important quality of a candidate is their openness towards teamwork. The score on this behavioral trait can often be the make-or-break for the candidates, as the ability to be a productive team member is critical for each new hire. 

  • Leadership. The cost of poor leadership remains as high as ever – and it’s losing US companies $550 billion annually. While it’s true good leadership can be learned, it’s still much easier to train people to lead when they already have a tendency towards it. 

  • Stress tolerance. Is your work environment results-focused, fast-paced and heavy on individual responsibility? If so, candidates who are easily susceptible to stress might not be the right fit for you, even if they have all the technical skills necessary for the job. Roles in account management or customer service, for example, require candidates who score highly on their stress tolerance.

Learn more about key behavioral traits and recommended behavioral interview questions in: "Behavioral Testing: Key Personality Traits for Success"

Behavioral testing helps you build the best possible team.

The Benefits of Behavioral Assessment

1. Objectivity

While companies work hard to eliminate prejudices in hiring, unconscious bias remains a challenge.

Pre-employment tests such as behavioral assessment reduce that risk by providing you with an objective, data driven way to judge your candidate and their compatibility with both the role and the workplace.

2. Finding the right culture fit

Today it is widely accepted that the best possible results come from teams of diverse thinkers and divergent personalities. Creating a quality work environment means encouraging and engaging with different modes of thinking and taking various perspectives into account.

Behavioral tests help nurture this workplace culture by informing you of your candidate’s way of thinking, which then shows what they are bringing to the team. Are you looking for an original thinker, or do you need a top-notch team player to bring some cohesiveness to the group? Is your team missing a bold leader, or a strategist? The results of your behavioral test will highlight the applicants within your hiring pool who best fit the description you need.

3. Help HR processes

Lastly, behavioral testing helps the human resources department better understand the other employees. Understanding new hires is of great help during onboarding and, potentially, later conflict resolution.

Behavioral testing also gives the HR department insights that might ease future hiring efforts. Being able to compare and contrast data from more sources (such as testing) adds valuable information that hiring managers can use in the future.

Read more about the benefits of behavioral tests in: "Why Employers Rely on Behavioral Assessments for Hiring"

With behavioral testing, hiring managers have the roadmap to better onboarding practices.

Build a Great Team with Behavioral Testing

Behavioral tests help you understand your candidates’ personality and behavioral tendencies. The way each individual team in the company operates means everything for the growth of your business and employee retention. 

Adding the ideal new hire to the group helps ensure goals are being met, and, more importantly, that you’re building a comfortable and productive environment for your employees.

EmployTest offers more than 30 different behavioral tests, including position-specific, universal and customized tests designed exactly for your open positions. Check out our test list and contact us today to learn more!


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