Melvyn Payne Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Although the UK and Ireland are seen as relatively mature populations when it comes to using psychometrics, and similar assessments to support selection and development, from time to time, we still get asked about whether people try to fake their profiles and the knock-on implications.

From a development perspective, we aim to help individuals create more strategic self-awareness, and the range of Hogan Assessments and 360s we supply are designed to provide individuals with indicators of how their natural tendencies and behaviours show up as strengths or detract from their performance and reputation.  In these circumstances, there is little real benefit of trying to play the system, but people still appear to try.

It is particularly apparent when we review how 360 participants rate themselves, compared to how their manager, peers, and direct reports score them.  Sometimes we will see an individual rate themselves consistently higher against a range of skills than their colleagues do.  However, is this someone trying to make themselves look good or is it simply someone whose self-perception is out of kilter with the reality of how others experience them?

In these cases, what some might see as hubris, or trying to make themselves look good in the questionnaire, is often a blind spot that a qualified practitioner will be able to bring alive in the feedback for the individual.  Equally, these insights can also apply to someone who seems overly self-critical or modest and consistently rates themselves lower than colleagues.  Both situations offer powerful opportunities to create meaningful learning for individuals.

What about the implications for selection though – what if someone purposefully goes out of their way to try to make themselves look good in psychometric assessments they complete?  I suspect if someone really wants a job, they will also go out of their way to present themselves in the most favourable way in an interview too?  Fortunately, using Hogan Assessments, we are able to predict if someone is trying to create an overly positive perspective of themselves – impression management.  This can then be explored in the interview process and used to validate the individual’s relative potential strengths and risks for a role.

Professor Adrian Furnham wrote a very insightful article recently for The European Business Review on the wider topic of being authentic in the workplace.  Adrian highlights the benefits and pitfalls of both being authentic or being a high self-monitor, where we adapt to the social cues around us.