Why DISC is the best (and legal) choice for hiring

A large part of our business has been fueled by our unique and positive approach to finding the best in people and believing a key to success is learning how to unlock the positive traits of your people. As part of our ongoing series on “DISC Expertise,” we would like to share information about the use of DISC in hiring, how to find the best people, and retain the best. Let us look at the proper use of DISC hiring tools in the hiring process.

One question that comes up often is,

“Why is DISC so much better than other assessments used in hiring?”

The first and simplest answer is

“It’s legal!”

DISC is one of the most widely used assessments in the pre-employment hiring processes. MMPI, Myers Briggs, The Big Five and many other personality or behavioral instruments have questionable use in pre-employment testing, and some have gone as far to state this on their own sites. This is not the case with DISC.

Different states and countries have specific laws on hiring, which you should always review or consult a legal professional, but in a nutshell, we will give you a primer on the use of assessments for hiring. We already know DISC meets requirements of the hiring process because it is valid, reliable, EEOC compliant, and has no adverse impact as it is not gender, race, color, religion, age, or sexual orientation biased. There are a few others in the industry that might say this also applies to them. However, there is still one point they have a hard time overcoming, whether the assessment can ever be determined to be part of a medical evaluation or not. The information on this subject is found below, direct from the EEOC website.

In hiring, most laws in most places do not allow you to give a medical test before making an offer for employment. The ADA places restrictions on employers when it comes to asking job applicants to answer medical questions, take a medical exam, or identify a disability.
An employer may not ask a job applicant, for example, if he or she has a disability (or about the nature of an obvious disability). An employer also may not ask a job applicant to answer medical questions or take a medical exam before making a job offer…
Once a person is hired and has started work, an employer generally can only ask medical questions or require a medical exam if the employer needs medical documentation to support an employee’s request for an accommodation or if the employer has reason to believe an employee would not be able to perform a job successfully or safely because of a medical condition.

Myers Briggs, MMPI and many other assessments are considered to overlap into the medical or psychological world, and are illegal (in most places) for pre-employment use, because of this one factor.

Myers Briggs states this on their website that:

"There are ethical concerns when used for hiring purposes..."

Other assessments (such as MMPI or the Workplace Big 5) look at neuroticism, tendencies for depression, and other clinical or “abnormal” personality disorders.

While these assessments may have appropriate places elsewhere, they are not to be used in pre-employment screening during the hiring process. PeopleKeys’ DISC only focuses on "normal" behavior so it is not considered a medical type test, and therefore is completely legal for pre-hiring use as part of the hiring process. The original founder of the DISC principles, Dr. William Moulton Marston, even entitled his now legendary book, “The Emotions of Normal People.”

For further information, we recently completed an international predictive hiring data study (download PDF here) of our DISC and 4D reports, and are able to statistically say PeopleKeys is the most accurate predictor of workplace behaviors in the world; able to identify some styles that are literally one in a million.

As always, we recommend DISC to be one part of a strong, comprehensive hiring process. You should never determine a hiring decision on one factor alone. We do help to generate interview questions for candidates whose DISC results appear to be outside of the DISC benchmark ranges for positions, so you can explore these possible concerns at more depth. A good hiring process often uses DISC as an on-boarding tool as well, to acclimate a new employee to their manager and vice versa.


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Posted By: Brad Smith

Bradley Smith, Ph.D. is the Director of International Business Development at PeopleKeys, and works directly with our international distributors and business partners. Personality Style: D