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The Hogan Personality Inventory is a personality test which ‘is a measure of normal personality and is used to predict job performance’ (http://www.hoganassessments.com/hogan-personality-inventory). This tool has many uses and is used by both organisations and individuals. The HPI was specifically designed to aid business and commercial use and can be used throughout the recruitment process and to identify areas of a person which could be developed.
The HPI was the first personality inventory to be based on the Five-Factor Models; openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. These factors are ‘generally accepted by psychologists as the distinct personality factors’ (http://www.advancedpeoplestrategies.co.uk/Hogan-Personality-Inventory-HPI.asp), although other models have been identified. These five personality traits were defined by Costa and McCrae in 1992 and they are used for understanding the relationship between personality and the behaviours of people.
The HPI uses the seven primary scales to help assess personality. The HPI analyses these scales which are believed to influence managerial performance. The seven primary scales are:
Adjustment. This is necessary for managers to be able to react well under pressure, remain calm in tense situations and not take problems or criticism to heart.
Ambition. Managers also need to display this as this shows how decisive a person is and how they would cope with taking the lead. Managers with high ambition scores know how to communicate effectively as well as encouraging team work and leading teams well.
Sociability. This reflects a manager’s ability to communicate with their staff, how warm, outgoing and talkative they are.
Likeability. A managers ability to charm and use their communication and interpersonal skills to talk to clients and their staff. This will improve a managers skill at building teams and maintaining trust between colleagues.
Prudence. Managers need to display this attribute to be dependable, conscientious and hard working. This means the leader will be loyal to their company and will treat their team members fairly.
Inquisitive. This is necessary for managers to be practical and imaginative while thinking strategically about the businesses plans and goals in the long term.
Learning Approach. This includes a managers desire to learn and their aptitude in their training and their school work. It can be shown that ‘School Success is steadily and moderately correlated with measures of cognitive ability’ (http://www.drbobhurley.com/pdf/HPIManual.pdf).
The HPI originates from a man called Robert Hogan and is sold by his company Hogan Assessments. Robert Hogan is a well known expert and international authority in psychology. According to his own website ‘he is widely credited with demonstrating how personality factors influence organisational effectiveness in a variety of areas’ (http://www.hoganassessments.com/executive-team). He has a Ph.D from the University of California and is a fellow of many different universities. Robert Hogan has quoted that between ’50-75% of managers are bad managers and this is due to the fact that they can interview well based on technical knowledge but they have bad leadership skills’. Therefore he believes his personality test can help to differentiate the good leaders from the good interviewees.
Figure 1 shows an example output report generated by the HPI. According to the Hogan Personality Inventory Brochure the reports give the following information; how a candidate may react in various circumstances, the characteristics of participants and summarises the ‘recommendation for job fit and potential hiring’ (http://www.hoganassessments.com/sites/default/files/assessments/pdf/HPI_Brochure.pdf). The graph in figure 1 shows how the person taking the test scores on each of the seven scales and shows whether the score is in the high, low or average percentile.
Figure 1: An example HPI output report
The report goes on to explain each of the scales in more detail, giving examples of characteristics of leaders with similar scores. For example in this sample report the person has a score of 72 for adjustment which is in the high percentile meaning this person can handle pressure well, not take criticism personally, expect to succed, be hard to coach and may overlook their mistakes.
The report gives some of the implications of this type of leadership and for this example it is: ‘compared to other leaders, your scores suggest that you usually maintain a positive attitude, stay in a good mood, remain patient with staff errors and mistakes, and persist in the face of challenges, frustration, and reversals. On the other hand, you may not realize when others are stressed, and may be reluctant to listen to negative feedback.’ (http://www.linkageinc.com/pdfs/Assessments/LFR_Potential.pdf%20HPI.pdf). There are 4 report formats which can be generated from the HPI. These are: a data report does not interpret the data in any way, career builder which gives the applicants strengths and weaknesses as well as improvement tips, management builder which gives suggestions on how the individual may be managed and the leadership forecast challenge report which analyses how an individual’s scores are likely to affect their work and their leadership style (http://www.pantesting.com/products/Hogan/HPI.asp#).
The HPI test consists of 206 true and false questions and one of the main features which the HPI boasts is that its questions are non-intrusive or invasive (http://www.hoganassessments.com/sites/default/files/assessments/pdf/HPI_Brochure.pdf). The HPI was created along the lines of the socio-analytic theory. The test therefore assumes that ‘getting along with and getting ahead of others become the dominant themes in social life’ (http://www.psychpress.com.au/psychometric/talent-psychometric-testing.asp?hogan-HPI)
Uses of the Hogan Personality Inventory
Personnel Selection – Finding the right person for the job
Organisations are beginning to recognise the importance of finding a person who ‘fits’ with their values, ideals and ways of working. Organisations are able to identify what skills a person has by looking at their qualifications and past experience but personality tests such as the HPI are able to help identify whether an applicant has the right personality to suit their organisation.
Individuals may use the HPI to help ‘decide whether they are suited to a specific occupation or to decide whether they should consider further education’ (http://www.workreview.co.uk/whatis/whatisthehpi.asp). It can also be used to assess personal strengths and weaknesses determine the best method to develop careers by focusing on which skills need to be developed.
Management could use the HPI to assess where their staff’s skills could be developed to create a better and more productive work force. It can also be used to place people in teams, perhaps with one person more suited to leadership and the others with complimentary skill sets.
Strengths of Using Personality Tests
Personality tests are becoming more popular for selecting good employees. Rodney Warrenfeltz of Hogan Assessment Centres said ‘hiring practices are commonly neglected as a key aspect of professional facility maintenance’. Many now believe that the selection of the right employees is of key importance and the personality test industry is now worth ‘$400 million-a-year… as employers have begun to realise the value of good employees and costs of bad employees’, one company estimated the cost of one bad employee as being ‘an astounding $2.5M’ (http://www.csi-executivesearch.com/executive-search/cost-of-a-bad-hire.html). Personality tests can also withstand legal challenges meaning organisations can use this method to reject people without the risk of being sued for discrimination.
Weaknesses of Using Personality Tests
The validity and reliability of personality tests is often called into disrepute and some job seekers complain that having their whole personality judged on a couple of questions, does not show potential employers the scope of their whole personality. Personality tests are very costly to run and if the validity is dubious then organisations need to consider whether the results are worth the expense.
A flaw affecting the validity of personality test results is that respondents may alter their answers to reflect what they believe the company is looking for. For example if a company an employee is applying for a job at has a reputation for having an autocratic leadership style then the applicant may alter their answers to a personality test to say they ‘follow instructions well’ even if they don’t. This would make the results of the test inaccurate and may end in the wrong employee being accepted. Detection of such inaccuracies is difficult as there is no way for an applicant to explain the reasoning behind their answers meaning that the organisation will not get the full picture of an employee.
Strengths of the HPI
The Hogan Personality Inventory is a popular test used by recruiters and ‘in 1980, the HPI was the first instrument designed to measure personality and predict resulting behaviours in the workplace’. A strength of the HPI is that it predicts the ‘reputation’ and the opinions others have of a person’s leadership style, not what the applicant thinks of their own management style.
The HPI is very practical and according to the Hogan Assessment website the tests have a relatively short ’15-20 minute completion time’ (http://www.hoganassessments.com/sites/default/files/assessments/pdf/HPI_Brochure.pdf). Other practical advantages include its online platform making it cost and time effective. The multiple choice format enables automated marking, making human interaction minimal. The test is available in a number of languages so the same test can be completed world-wide. This helps multi-national companies as applicants can be tested using the same platform increasing the validity of results as applicants can complete the test in their native tongue.
The HPI is based on the Five-Factor Model. According to Costa and McCraes Theory ‘when an individual is scored on these factors they will produce a complete picture of that person’s personality’ (http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/13139/1/What-Is-the-Five-Factor-Model-of-Personality.html). Extensive research has been carried out on these factors and ‘statistical evidence demonstrates that the Five Factor Model is high in validity and useful as a predictive tool’ (http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/13139/1/What-Is-the-Five-Factor-Model-of-Personality.html). The HPI has been based on over 500000 working adults, this is a fairly large base for the inventory to be normed on making the results more valid as these people have been tested from over 200 of the main industries. The validity of the tests is further proved with ‘retest reliabilities ranging from .74 to .86’. HPI archives have been kept since 1970 and ‘it continues to be ones of the most widely accepted and used inventories for research on personality’ (http://www.psychpress.com.au/psychometric/talent-psychometric-testing.asp?hogan-HPI).
Weaknesses of the HPI
The Hogan Personality Inventory is based on a series of true and false questions which doesn’t allow people any allowance for expressing other opinions. In other words the answers that the people give when they are taking the test are very constricted. This means that the potential employees are unable to express their true feelings or explain their answers.
As the Hogan Personality Inventory is validated on over 200 industries it could be argued that this is a key weakness of these personality tests. ‘These assessments were designed to be general, apply to a wide range of situations (most were not specifically created for workplace application), and are not amenable to customisation’. This approach means that the tests are to general to create a valid overview of a person’s leadership capability for a specific role. ‘Such measures employ a “one size fits all” approach, which (similar to clothing) does not provide a very good fit in most cases’ (http://www.evancarmichael.com/Sales/3147/Trouble-with-Personality-Tests.html)
Another weakness of the Hogan Personality Inventory is that it is based on the Five Factor Model which has been reviewed as not explaining the whole of the human personality. Some argue that models such as the Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors (1946) are more reflective of the human’s personality as they take into account more aspects of a person’s personality. These extra traits could involve religion, political views and other environmental factors. It could be argued that the Five Factor Model only provides a ‘snapshot’ of a person’s personality not a full picture (http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/13139/1/What-Is-the-Five-Factor-Model-of-Personality.html).
Findings and Conclusions
When researching the Hogan Personality Inventory it is very important to remember that it is a commercial entity and a lot of articles which I have read have been very biased and aimed at making the reader buy the product. Following on from this, there is very little literature outlining the weaknesses of the HPI, although there is a fair amount about the disadvantages of personality tests based on the Five Factor Model.
Table 1 shows the British Psychological Society’s review into the major psychometric tests, comparing them on their main ratings and their cost information. From this table the HPI scores highest against the other tests with a score of 19 while the only other test to come close to this is the Personality Inventory which scored 17 stars.
Tech – Overall quality of technical information, Valid – Validity, Rely – Reliability, Norms – Normative Information,
Cover – Overall clarity and coverage of content.
Table 1: The British Psychological Society (BPS) Review of Personality Instruments 2nd Edition
Personality tests can have huge benefits for both organisations and the individuals. It can help management with employee selection and employee development and they can help individuals to identify areas of themselves which need improving. The practical nature of these tests can help to weed out unsuitable candidates quickly and easily and it is also a form of selection which can stand up in court. The HPI itself is a well known and trusted brand of test, due to the model which it is based on and the amount of working adults it is normed on.
On the other hand, many individuals disagree with the use of personality tests in the selection process. The lack of ability to express reasoning behind answers means that many applicants feel constrained when answering the tests and many people are prone to ‘faking’ their answers although Robert Hogan believes he has solved this problem with the HPI as he states that ‘the data are quite clear-even when motivated to fake, people’s scores on the HPI don’t change’. (http://www.hoganassessments.com/blog/robert-hogan-phd/how-faking-impacts-personality-assessment-results). Instead he claims that instead of faking, people are engaging in a form of ‘impression management’ and these results are more valid given the fact that they are gauging a person’s reputation as a manager not their opinions of their own leadership styles.
After evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of people using personality tests I can see organisations’ continuing to use them for the foreseeable future, especially as unemployment continues to rise and the ratio of people applying to the number of roles increases. It is a quick way to reject potentially unsuitable people and reduce an applications list easily. I would also conclude that the Hogan Personality Inventory is a valid test to use especially when used in conjunction with the other Hogan Assessments.
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