I know, my fantasies are not quite as exciting as perhaps they should be. < sigh >
If there were a reasonably accurate, easy to administer, online test that you could give an au pair candidate, a test that that would tell you a little bit more about her or his personality, would you be interested?
I would be interested. In fact I’ve often fantasized about having a cheap, easy, and reliable personality test. As a management professor, I’ve used many different personality tests in executive education & MBA classes to help potential young leaders figure out their skills and preferences and personality, but I’ve never seen something simple and affordable for au pairs, until now.
Doesn’t that sound like a sales pitch? It isn’t, but do read on…
Recently, I learned about a site, Take-Care.me, where employers will be able to give their au pair candidates a cheap and easy personality test. Before I go on to recommend this test, let me tell you what I learned about it first.
Overview of Test
TakeCare is offering a free trial of their online personality test. The test will take about 20 minutes, and will cost about $25. The test will report back to the potential employer whether or not the candidate has any “risk factors” (like tendency to steal, lie, gamble or use drugs). It will also report back on how the candidates scores on seven important personality dimensions.
Personality Dimensions include:
- Obedience and discipline
- Emotional stability
- Service awareness
- Coping with stress
- Positive attitude
You can see that knowing more about a candidate profile along the seven characteristics could be really useful to you as a host parent.
Testing the Personality Test
I thought I’d put all those PhD courses in research design to work for you, so I checked out the test myself. I signed up for the free trial (that’s available until May 22) and started clicking.
The test was relatively easy to understand, although there were some questions that were awkwardly worded. The test was heavy on questions about bribery, gambling, stealing, and following directions. I don’t think I’ve thought so much about whether or not I use drugs or drink alcohol in years. But the test is manageable and it really did only take 20 minutes.
So far, so good.
Now for the report back about me & my personality.
I was glad to see that there were no high risks indicated for me. But I was distressed to see that my “overall personality traits suitability” of the job of Nanny/Au Pair was actually awful!
Apparently, according to their test, I lack emotional stability and a positive attitude.
People, if you know me in person, you know I am a total rock. I am the wasp who does not show emotion. I am calm, level, steady. I am nothing if not (at least in interaction with others) emotionally stable.
And, I totally have a positive attitude! I don’t think I am less content than other people, or more likely to be grumpy! But that’s what the test scores said about me!
So, based on the perceived inaccuracy of these results of my own test, I am not quite ready to recommend this test to you.
However, I did e-mail the fellow in charge of the site, Yossi, and had a nice conversation with him about my concerns about the test results and their accuracy.
He told me that anyone using the test on themselves will get a remarkably lower personality score than “reality”, because the test takes into account a candidate’s desire to show him or herself in the best light possible. Yossi explained that when an actual candidate takes the test, the results are more accurate.
(One should note, no psychological assessment tool is 100% accurate. Psychological assessments should also be used as part of your decision process; no personality test should make or break your decision.)
Should you use a personality test like this?
Short answer? Probably yes. With caution.
Right now, this test in in ‘beta’, so there will be adjustments and improvements before it is released for sale.
It would be easy to misuse a test like this, and have it substitute for your own judgment after a very thorough interviewing process. However, in combination with:
- Your own very thorough interviewing process,
- Your own clear understanding of what your family needs, and
- Your own clear understanding of the range of possible personality types that would fit with your family,
this tool looks like it could be useful.
So, here’s my recommendation for you:
Between now and May 22, dash over to the TakeCare site. (If it’s after May 22nd, send them an email and see if they’ll extend the offer for you.) Check out the test and the explanations on the site.
You can take the test yourself, or (and this is what I would recommend) ask your current au pair to take the test, as a way for you to assess whether it might be useful in your next au pair selection process. After s/he takes the test and you get back the results, you can have a conversation with her/him about how accurately the test reflected her/his personality.
In the meantime, I’ll learn more about the test and its accuracy. The folks at TakeCare are continuing to improve the test, and I’ll try it out again when they are ready to sell it. At that point, I’ll write a conclusive review with recommendations of how best to use this test and others like it.
I wish that we could just read through a candidate’s letter & application, and know in an instant whether he or she will fit well with out families and do a good job. Alas, nothing works better than careful review and thoughtful interviewing… but an inexpensive, convenient and accurate personality test would be a great tool to add…