The idea of categorising people by traits can be traced back as far as Hippocrates; however more modern theories have come from Gordon Allport, Raymond Cattell and others.

Gordon Allport, one of the first modern trait theorists, was the first to create a lexicon of personality-describing words in 1939. From this, the number of words was reduced to approximately 4,500 adjectives considered to describe personality traits.

Raymond Cattell 10 years later reduced this list to 171 words and from these created his “16 Personality Factors” – the personality assessment called the 16PF, now in its 5th edition.  

Psychological tests and assessments have been used in personnel selection since World War I, but until the 1980s, it was still assumed that the determinants of success varied extensively from job to job, and from organisation to organisation. It was widely believed that tests that were highly effective predictors of success in one job or one organisation might turn out to be useless as predictors of success in other similar jobs or organisations, and that it would be necessary to build selection tests one job and one organisation at a time. Research by Hunter and Schmidt showed that the best and most effective method of candidate interviewing and selection was the “assessment centre” with 0.51 efficacy. All other methods trailed well behind

IBM Kenexa offer a suite of behavioural assessments incorporating traits-based questionnaires that examine an individual’s preferred style of behaviour. These are self-report questionnaires, which means that they measure how candidates report their own preferences. IBM Kenexa assessments are administered and completed online, and on completion of the questionnaire, a range of reports can be generated automatically.

Assessments can be used with a wide range of employees in different roles and at different levels; they are not specific to any particular group. In most cases, job analysis or validation information is used in order to identify traits that are important for specific roles or job families.

Once these traits have been identified, they can be selected from the list to form a bespoke client specific assessment of personality. Doing so will enable each client to measure everything they want, but nothing more. Working with IBM Workforce Science consultants and project managers, the client will be able to develop a behavioural measurement solution that fits their needs precisely.

Research shows that personality is relevant to all employees, and it is important to identify and use this information in aiding selection and recruitment decisions, as well as forming parts of development plans for new and existing employees, providing discussions points for career coaching, and in talent management initiatives.

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