The Disc Test-An effective or obsolete tool for recruitment


Are you preparing your next recruitment campaign? Or you are already interviewing for an x position for x need … but you need to be equipped with the right tools, to better know the soft skills of your future collaborator. How will he/she integrate into the team, will he/she succeed in boosting sales? Or how will he/she react to conflicts?

Generally, the job interview is the opportunity to get a first idea of the profile of the new recruit, apart from the onboarding phase which allows for a more in-depth analysis. In addition, recruiters can use personality tests to better discern the character traits of candidates and thus better compose their workforce and reach their best commercial potential.

The DISC assessment is one of the oldest and most widely used personality tests in the world today, even if it is not universally accepted. We will discuss it in more detail below.

What is the DISC assessment ?

The DISC personality test was developed in the 1970s by American psychologist John G. Geier is based on the book “The Emotions of Normal People” by American psychologist William Moulton Marston in the 1920s.

The acronym DISC refers to Dominant, Influential, Stable and Compliant (or sometimes Conscientious). It is a behavioral assessment that provides an understanding of a person’s behaviors and priorities through their responses to a series of questions. The results of the DISC are then presented in the form of a graph that lists these four behaviors.

Dr. Thomas Hendrickson then evolved this theory to create the PPA (or Personal Profile Analysis) test for the workplace in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Since the model is not copyrighted, it has been taken up and developed by various test providers. However, the DISC assessment, which was invented in the 1920s, is still the basis for this.

How does the DISC personality test work?

The DISC assessment classifies people into 4 categories, according to the objectives they would have selected, the ones they think best describe them.

The exact method depends on the provider and the focus of the test. Various commercial providers offer DISC tests that can be taken online or in writing.

It is essential to understand that the test results do not include any value judgments in the assessment. All behavioral profiles are considered equal. The score simply indicates that one behavioral profile is more pronounced in the test participant and that it takes more effort to exhibit the other behaviors. This does not mean that the test participant cannot exhibit the other three behavioral profiles.

Furthermore, the results do not allow for any quantifiable comparison, so person X cannot infer from the test results that person Y is less diligent or less influential in any particular way. The result simply indicates the subject’s predominant behavioral profile.

The DISC profiles | 4 different personalities

The candidate’s behavior and emotions are evaluated using a DISC questionnaire. The following four personality types are recognized:

word image 24753 1

D = Dominant

Determination, self-confidence, and assertiveness are the traits of the dominant personality. People with this profile take the initiative and like challenges. They are direct in their communication and act with determination. People around them sometimes see them as aggressive and insensitive.

I = Influential

The influential personality type has a propensity to get excited about new circumstances and concepts. They like to work in teams and are outgoing and communicative. They are gregarious and talkative. Furthermore, they are generally seen by others as outgoing and charming. Although not very detail-oriented, their creativity and initiative in their work more than make up for it.

S = stable

The stable personality type likes to work willingly in the background and is naturally very helpful. They value stability and cohesion. They enjoy working in groups and are considered kind, patient, and understanding. Stable types tend to be conservative. They have difficulty adapting to change. He prefers stable work procedures and lasting, reliable relationships.

C = Conforming

The conforming personality type is factual and strives for perfection. They analyze situations methodically, strategically and meticulously. He is a diplomatic communicator who also has a thirst for knowledge and a concern for quality. However, he has difficulty lowering his standards, both for himself and for others.

Where can you take the test?

Why the DISC assessment work ?

Much like, other behavior or personality assessment tools, DISC assists your team in becoming more self-aware. This increased self-awareness allows you to identify your colleague’s strengths & areas for improvement, providing a foundation for enhancement.

With a shared assessment framework, decision-making becomes more guided. For instance, when forming collaborative teams, insights from the assessment help balance personalities for optimal performance. 

Understanding diverse styles and values promotes effective communication, conflict resolution & strategic assignment delegation.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Dave Winsborough highlight assessment tools’ role in predicting team success. Teams with open-minded and emotionally intelligent members leverage conflict for performance improvement, while closed-minded teams face challenges in handling disagreement.

The authors stress the importance of shared values within teams. Assessment tools identify values expressed through everyday behavior. 

Teams with cohesive values exhibit stronger group identification and higher levels of innovation, as shared values guide collective behavioral choices, fostering agreement on group actions.

How can the DISC test help you in the workplace?

The DISC assessment has many applications in the business world. Since its findings are useful whenever communication and collaboration need to be improved.

HR teams use the DISC assessment  both for existing employees (e.g. to determine their best area of assignment) and for candidates (e.g. to find out if they have the qualities required to fit into a team). Infine, the DISC test is used for management development, sales and conflict management.

The test benefits the individual employee as well as the company. Employees (but also managers) who take such tests can learn more about themselves, better understand their own needs and have levers to develop their strengths. At the same time, by understanding the different profiles and their characteristics, they can better adapt to the behavior of customers and colleagues.

The test results not only reveal the traits that make up a profile, but they also indicate detailed information for daily life. For example, the assessment indicates:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the DISC profile ;
  • Under which working conditions the profile will be more productive;
  • Which conflicts the profile is predestined for and how to avoid them.
  • What is the communication style that the profile concerned prefers;
  • What is the work mode under which the person gives the best results;
  • How his colleagues should behave with him if they are going to work together;

Some vendors offer purpose-built DISC personality tests that include more information about the business context in their assessment. Managers, for example, can learn to better manage their leadership style, and salespeople can learn to use DISC to improve their sales results.

How can the DISC test help employees?

  • Increase their self-awareness. What motivates them? What makes them so frustrated? How do they handle conflict?
  • Improve their relationships at work. What communication styles are best suited to each individual? What other modes of communication are most effective for team members?
  • Encourage group success. Create a welcoming environment for teamwork and encourage constructive feedback.
  • Increase sales. People who know themselves and others well are better able to identify and respond to different types of customer behavior.
  • Improve management skills. Understand the strengths and priorities of each team member, and learn how to make the most of them.

How reliable is the DISC model?

The DISC test predicts how individuals will respond to specific problems, work pace, procedures, and other people. It is not intended to predict a participant’s ability to respond to a problem or interact with others, but rather how they approach these situations. That said, the DISC process is known to be highly reliable, which means that the results are highly relevant to the participants.

What other personality tests are useful in the professional field

Personality tests are popular in the business world because they help answer important questions (who has the qualities to lead? Which candidate is the most qualified?) and show you how to collaborate more effectively.

The DISC assessment is just one of many personality tests available. New tests incorporating the latest research findings are regularly released. Other popular personality assessments include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Reiss Profile, and the Clifton/Gallup StrengthsFinder.

That said, keep in mind that all tests have flaws, and none are capable of representing the full complexity of a character. In addition, personality tests tend to encourage “pigeonholing.” When a person is pigeonholed, he or she may be hindered rather than encouraged in his or her development, because he or she is limited to certain strengths.

The usefulness of a personality test such as the DISC assessment depends heavily on the purpose of the test,

the quality of the assessment, and the application of the results, which must be done responsibly, keeping in mind that no test provides absolute truth.

Leave a Comment

Explore more articles
on our blog!