I recently conducted what I believe to be the best interview I have ever had in my short two year management career. My boss loved this person, and my boss' boss said it was the best interview he has had in the past 100 interviews he conducted for the company. The candidate had great answers to our interview questions. I would not be suprised to find out that he is an active listener to MT.

Long story short. Our company had him take a test to see if he is a "match" for what we are looking for in an employee (Supervisor/Manager). This test came back with "not a match." Our HR representative interviewed this candidate, and had lot's of positive things to say about this person. But, she is currently holding the test above all else, and saying that we may not move forward based on this test alone.

My boss and I intend to push back a bit on this subject. Since this is the first time I have been a part of something like this, is this something that anyone has encountered before? Does it make sense to not move forward on a candidate based on a test, versus getting the proper answers you were seeking during the interview process? Not to mention a great work history. I'd love some comments on this.

bflynn's picture

To me, it does not make sense. I believe human interactions are varied enough that they cannot be accurately tested and measured for by an external test. Additionally, if no manager ever gets hired, except by passing this test, then the test's accuracy has never been tested.

What is the source of the test?

I'll briefly mention there could be EOC aspects to this as well. These are scarier than the possibility of missing a good employee. Its a side issue.

Ultimately - if you want this person, try to work it out. If the HR rep stays stubborn, I'd reach for a bigger hammer and keep reaching for bigger hammers until the question is resolved.


quenfis's picture

Thanks Brian. Caliper is the name of the test. It is specific questions relating to their behavior and work style. Examples for results on a "not match" would be, "does not feel comfortable with conflict." Or, "not concerned about being liked." Something of that nature.

Now, I feel that the DISC profile I took was right on. It was more of a tool that I can use to become a more successful manager. It is also something that my boss can use to grow me as well. Even some of the concerns that this test has on the associate seem to be my same issues in my management style. I feel that I can work with this individual on some of the areas that HR considers "issue" areas. I also feel that the knowledge I am gaining from MT will help me to work with this candidate as well.

We will most likely fight for this individual. I am still a bit in shock over the current situation.

bflynn's picture

I'll say that a quote from their website has me somewhat concerned already - "It is more important to determine what a person can do than to rely on what they have already done." There is not a best personality type for any job.

Caliper is testing for traits, then translates those traits into a "fitness" for a job. I am a skeptic about using this approach. It means that everyone you hire for a particular job will tend to be the same. It also means that someone who is very versatile, but has a natural personality that isn't "right" for the job would be passed over, despite being a superior candidate for his versatility.

Good luck with this.


trandell's picture

Keep working on HR to let up. It sounds like your firm is losing an opportunity to add a good person to the team. There is no pass/fail measurement that's going to be fair for something like this. If the candidate "passed" and they turn out to be a bad employee, is HR going to say they are good because of the test? I seriously doubt it.

quenfis's picture

Great point Trandell. If this had been a "so-so" interview, and the test came back with the negatives, we would probably walk away. But, with such a strong interview and knowledge of the industry/operation, we will continue to fight for him.

Brian, I agree that we want some diversity in the business. I don't want cookie cutter employees. I'm also up for a challenge, to some extent. I do feel this test is useful in certain ways. Especially as an in-house tool to find out who needs help, and in what areas. To base our entire hiring process over this is a difficult decision to swallow.

Karlee's picture
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I had a colleague who was in a similar situation to your candidate.

She was a fantastic Team Leader, excellent at her job. She was interviewed for a new job, outside the company, and they sent her for their standard 1/2 day of testing. They send their top two candidates for testing and there were a number of “tests” she had to take.

The interview panel thought she was excellent but she didn’t test very well. The reason she didn’t test well was due to an extremely stressful work situation that happened less than an hour prior to taking the tests.

They ignored the test results and employed her and she has been there for over a year and is one of their top performers – it was for a Senior HR role and it was the HR Manager who made the decision to employ her!

rthibode's picture

My academic background is psychology. This sort of testing makes my blood boil.

The notion that people have stable personality traits is highly disputed in our field, but I won't go into that. The problem I want to address is that tests are developed by using average scores across thousands of people to predict average behavour across thousands of people. While it may be true that on average people who score high on trait X will perform better in role Y, it is a logical and statistical error to assume that the relationship holds for any given individual.

Of course, from a corporation's perspective, the bottom line is what matters. If they hire thousands of widget designers using these tests, on average it is quite possible that it will pay off with better widgets. What I'm questioning here is the ethics of denying a job to a given individual based on a test. What if blue-eyed people, on average, were better widget designers? Would it be fair to deny widget designing jobs to brown-eyed people? Of course not. We understand that individual blue-eyed people may be poor designers and individual brown-eyed people may be good designers. Somehow when it comes to psychological testing, this logic is forgotten.

In my opinion, these sorts of tools are fine for self-reflection and for training and development, not for hiring.

End of rant.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

My apologies for my delay.

Testing is often helpful, and I recommend it in some situations. It's certainly possible that Caliper is "accurate" ("right" is a bit of overkill).

But I would overrule it in every case where I and my associates felt strongly. It might cause me to go back and interview again, looking...

And, relatedly but not causally, your HR person is dead wrong to hold the test above all else. Organizations are human entities, run by humans, for humans. A test is only a measurable proxy, and therefore attenuated.

Again, I regret my absence.


joemazzenga's picture

 I recently applied for a sales managers position and was told I set the bar and they loved me. I was communicating through a recruiter and she told me it was the best interview they have had in a long time. Now the next step was to take a caliper test. Although I don't believe that this test can outweigh 14 years of documented sales success. I mean I must have been doing something wight. Anyway I took the test but am curious as to the time it takes for the hiring company to get the results and if it is black and white?