The Use of Dark-Side” Personality Assessment in the Selection Process for Corporate Strategy Graduate Trainees, Swan Housing Association, Essex, Summer 2014

Posted by: Steven Annison

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DWHRC was contacted by Swan in July 2014 to assist them with their recruitment process for Corporate Strategy Graduate Trainees. DWHRC were specifically asked to provide an assessment of the “dark-side” of personality, i.e. to ascertain to what extent applicants might be pre-disposed to behave less-constructively towards other people, and how, this information to sit alongside other facets of a multi-stage and multi-method assessment process for this role.

This “dark-side” analysis was to be done by the use of an appropriate psychometric assessment, namely the “Hogan Development Survey” (HDS). This was primarily due to Malcolm O’Brien, Swan’s Executive Director of People and Communications, having used the HDS successfully in similar circumstances previously.

Approach & Process

A “longlisting” process was carried out, with seven candidates being invited to an initial assessment day. Here, they were asked to complete the HDS on-line, in a supervised environment, thus ensuring that it was indeed the candidates completing the assessment. HDS profiles were obtained for all the candidates on this day.

The candidates were also asked to complete other assessment exercises, including a team-working exercise. A group of Swan managers and HR personnel observed and assessed this exercise.

At the end of this day, a wash-up discussion was held, which involved all the assessors. Each candidate was considered in turn, and a decision made about each of them, as to whether they would be invited to participate in the final stage of the assessment and selection process for this role, which would include a structured, panel-interview, together with a presentation. Five of the seven longlisted candidates were invited to this final stage.

In advance of the final assessment day, DWHRC were asked to carry out a telephone-based interview with each of the five shortlisted candidates, based on each person’s HDS profile and the application which they had submitted for the role in the first place. This was to:

Explore the HDS profiles and applications in more detail.Compile a summative report on each candidate for the interviewing panel, including some “suggested interview questions” and “lines of enquiry”.Explain each candidate’s HDS profile to them in more detail, in order to enhance their self-awareness, consider appropriate developmental actions and thus prepare them for their structured panel-interview.

DWHRC were also asked to carry out a similar telephone interview with the two longlisted candidates who didn’t make it through to the final stage of the process. Here, the emphasis was on helping these two people develop their knowledge of their dark-side tendencies and consider appropriate developmental strategies.


All five shortlisted candidates took part in the final assessment and selection day, with two being offered, and accepting, a position.

The report that DWHRC provided for the interviewing panel, based on the candidates’ HDS profiles and their applications, was considered to have been insightful and helpful, assisting the appointing managers to make more informed decisions than would otherwise have been the case. It is now hoped that the two appointees will perform well in this role, and go on to bigger and better things with Swan in the future.

Informal feedback obtained from the candidates suggested that whilst they had found the process to be exacting, it had also been a valuable learning and development experience for them.

All this suggests that:

Using the HDS carefully, in this way, can provide real benefit to both the appointing managers and the candidates.Well-informed appointment decisions have been made, with both Swan and the appointees being more aware of the appointees’ developmental needs, from the outset.Swan’s reputation with the group of longlisted candidates has been enhanced by how this recruitment and selection process has been designed and carried out.

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