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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Talent and Personality Assessments: What’s The Difference and What to Look For

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Recruiting and hiring top talent is a tall order!  But it is critical for success in a sales organization.

Hiring decisions are perhaps the most critical decisions a company makes because talent is directly connected to performance. While other factors contribute to sales performance as well (training, pricing, marketing, etc.), the best managers know that selecting the right people for the company is job one! 

As Peter Drucker said, “If I have put a person in a job and he or she does not perform, I have made a mistake. I have no business blaming that person, no business complaining. I have made a mistake.” 

Aren’t all Talent Assessments pretty much the same?

Most talent assessments on the market do a nice job of describing someone’s likely behavior. In the past, these assessments were extremely valuable because they were all we had available. But times – and talent researchhave changed. 

Descriptive assessments like Gallup, DISC, Strengths Finder, MBTI, NEO PI-R, and other broad-based assessments and are no longer the gold standard. While they meet the professional standards set forth by the US Department of Labor, their validity is not reliable. Good (but not great) at predicting success across many jobs within the US economy, these other assessments use a generic set of questions designed to describe general human behavior, and then they are benchmarked for sales jobs.

If you are leading a sales department or organization, that’s just not good enough. When you have the golden opportunity to hire a superstar salesperson who will be working with businesses, building relationships with the decision-makers, discovering their needs, and providing solutions, you will want to use an assessment built specifically to separate the “best” from the “rest” and accurately predict success in your sales position. 

How about Personality Assessments – are those different?

Makenzie Rath, Research Scientist for Talent Plus, the global leader in the science of talent, explained to me, “There are a few main differences between traditional personality assessments and talent assessments.” 

She shared these key differences below:

  • Personality assessments generally assess past, typical behavioral patterns, whereas talent assessments assess potential for desired, near-perfect behaviors.
  • Personality assessments are often non-directional, meaning that one end of the spectrum isn’t any better than the other. Either end of the spectrum (e.g., extraversion/introversion) can be beneficial based on the particular profession – e.g., extraversion for sales positions; introversion for accountants. Talent assessments are easier to interpret – higher scores are better on all talent themes.
  • Personality assessments are broad-based, and their “one size fits all” model is applied to any and every job. Talent assessments are job- and industry-specific, and are only created after a thorough job analysis.
  • Because of the points above, talent assessments greatly enhance prediction as compared to typical personality assessments – with up to a ten-fold increase. Personality accounts for as little as 5% of the variance in performance, whereas talent assessments, such as the OSTI, accounts for 50%.

So, what should you look for?

When you consider the best instrument for making strong hires, you’ll want to use an assessment that meets these three criteria:

  1. Scientifically validated
  2. Built for the industry and job for which you are hiring
  3. Measures talent only – not experience – so you are able to identify potential in people, even if they have not done that exact job before

Armed with the right instrument, you will be able to make those critical hiring decisions and effectively turn talent into performance!

Talent Resources

Topics: hiring salespeople