Personality assessments at a crossroads: Why we need to be more like Netflix

Personality assessments have become a common tool used by HR for improving the quality of talent decisions for both candidate selection and leadership development. The psychologists that create these assessments are often enamored by the content of the questions and validity coefficients. However, the most important component of these products in the eyes of the consumer is arguably the results report. The report is what recruiters and executive coaches live with day after day and is the feature of the assessment that drives the most value for users.

18th September 2017

Adam Vassar

While the acceptance and use of online personality assessments in HR has come a long way, the assessment products themselves by and large have unfortunately stagnated.  For the last 20 years, assessment reports have been produced as static PDF files without much significant innovation beyond this format.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think PDF report files still serve an important purpose and should be available.  However, if I think of how I use my online bank account, I only view my PDF bank statement once per month while on the other hand I’m constantly using the power and flexibility of the online interface to view my balance, search for transactions, and pay bills.  So while the PDF has its place, I believe assessment vendors need to provide their customers with more. 

Personality assessments are at a crossroads.  In several ways, the stagnation of assessment report innovation reminds me of the downfall of Blockbuster and the rise of Netflix.  In the early 2000s, Blockbuster had cornered the market on movie rentals, however the disruptive emergence of Netflix exposed the shortcomings of the Blockbuster model.


Too much effort required by consumers

Once Netflix empowered consumers to use their Internet browser to rent movies from the comfort of their couch, the need to physically drive to a Blockbuster store was perceived as too much effort.  How on Earth does this relate to personality assessments you ask?

For assessment users, there can be a similar level of unnecessary effort required to interpret reports.  You first print out reports, then you grab your multi-colored highlighters to identify interesting themes, you might capture notes on post-its, and you are consistently grabbing the guide book or training manual to remind yourself what a specific score means.  Before you know it, you are a half hour into your process with a desk covered in chaos.  This is too much effort.


Inefficient processes to find what you're looking for

Once customers entered the Blockbuster store, their mission was to wander through various aisles of movies categorized alphabetically by genre to find their film of choice.  The flexible online movie search, filtering, and recommendation features within the Netflix site shed light on the inefficiencies of the manual Blockbuster experience.

Traditional personality reports are structured in a similarly inefficient manner.  The linear stacks of pages present scores and interpretive text page after page in silos.  In reality, interpreting personality assessment results is about breaking down silos by connecting dots across scores and finding the big picture behavioral themes.  Experienced assessment users know that report interpretation is not a linear process.


Unsustainable pricing model

The Blockbuster pay per movie rental approach was clearly far less economical compared to the Netlflix monthly subscription fee that eventually resulted in unlimited streaming for movies and shows for a flat, predictable rate.  Furthermore, Blockbuster’s policy of punishing consumers and charging late fees was an additional turn off. 

The majority of personality assessment providers still use fee structures characterized as pay per use and don’t offer a subscription-based option.  There is also an element of Blockbuster’s late fee punishment in most assessment pricing models.  After a participant completes the assessment, clients often need to pay an individual retail cost for EACH report that they generate for that participant.  In essence, the user is punished for attempting to get full use of the assessment data to support a broader talent cycle of evaluating candidates, informing interview questions, providing the new hire with general feedback to reflect on during the onboarding process, and sharing coaching tips with the new hire and his/her manager to support ongoing development.


How is Cubiks different?

The team at Cubiks is excited to take a page from the Netflix playbook and disrupt the personality assessment market in order to better serve our customers and drive more value with our tools.  PAPI, our personality questionnaire, is an extremely powerful assessment of motivational drivers and behavioral styles with applications for both candidate selection and leadership development.  PAPI offers a Dynamic Report that overcomes the inefficiencies of traditional reporting by using a browser-based, interactive experience for better ease-of-use, flexibility, and all-in-one resource availability.  We also offer subscription pricing and allow users to generate unlimited report types for each participant that completes an assessment.

Check out our video on the PAPI Dynamic Report


To learn more about what PAPI could do for you, email and we’ll get back to you.

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