What Is A DiSC Test: Should You Be Using One To Recruit?

June 27, 2023

what is a disc test: should you be using one to recruit

The DiSC Test is a personal assessment tool that can be used in the workplace to improve teamwork and communication. This test has been used to help individuals understand more about themselves and about others around them, to improve their productivity and work better.

In this article, we will look at what the DiSC test is, and why it is used. We will look at the personality type the DiSC test categorizes, and what that means for the individuals.

We will also look at the benefits of the DiSC test in the workplace, and what the limitations of this particular personality test is.

Defining the DiSC test

The DiSC test was built on the research completed to create the model of behavior by William Moulton Marston.

Marston’s book, Emotions of Normal People was published in 1928, and it identified four main personality profiles - Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. According to Marston, these profiles are the behavioral expression of emotion, and are based on the self-perception of the individual based on their environment.

To complete the DiSC test, respondents must answer a series of questions. This is a self-reporting questionnaire - they need to answer the questions based on the way they view themselves.

The results of the questionnaire are plotted on a circular graph, known as a circumplex, which is split into four quadrants, one for each personality type.

Why is the DiSC test important?

The DiSC assessment, and the results that can be collected, are important in the workplace - especially when employers are looking to improve teamwork.

The personality styles help each individual to understand more about themselves, including how they prefer to communicate, how they handle challenges, and how others perceive them.

These results can be used to structure development programs, to ensure that teams are more aware of the needs of their teammates, and increase collaboration.

What are the four personality types of the DiSC model?

what is a disc test: should you be using one to recruit

1. Dominance

A Dominant personality type is linked with control, power, and assertiveness. They can be considered to be confident, sometimes outspoken, as well as decisive and assertive. Dominant types place an emphasis on accomplishing results.

Motivated by winning, enjoying competition and striving for success, they fear being seen as vulnerable and do not want to be taken advantage of.

The Dominant type values competency, in themselves and others, and they want to have personal freedom. They enjoy challenges and prefer to take action to get results.

Dominant types might look for self-improvement through the development of patience and empathy.

2. Influence

Influence types are optimistic and enthusiastic, and they are seen as being trusting, open, and energetic. They want to shape their environment by persuading and influencing others.

Influence types are motivated by their relationships, and they want to get social recognition. They are convincing and magnetic, warm and always ready to get involved in group activities.

They fear being ignored and rejected, and disapproval and loss of influence makes them unhappy.

The Influence type values having freedom of expression, particularly in democratic relationships with others, and they enjoy taking coaching or counseling roles both in the workplace and in their personal lives.

The Influence type might seek improvement by being more objective about making decisions and actually seeing through their ideas.

3. Steadiness

Those with a Steady type are patient, persistent, and often considered to be thoughtful. They cooperate with sincerity and are dependable because they remain calm and deliberate in both thought and action.

The Steady type fears change or anything that challenges their stability, but they are equally concerned about letting people down or offending others.

They value loyalty in themselves and in others, and they want to feel secure. They want to help others.

If the Steady type wants to improve themselves, they can work on self-confidence and being more willing to reveal how they truly feel, with less worry about the consequences.

4. Conscientiousness

Structured and organized, the Conscientious type is all about quality and accuracy. They are detail-oriented independent thinkers, always looking for opportunities to gain knowledge and show their expertise.

The Conscientious type is analytical, and might be recognized as the diplomatic and tactful one.

Being criticized is a fear of the Conscientious type, and they don't like being wrong. Any strong display of emotion can unnerve them as they are so focused on accuracy and being systematic.

The Conscientious type values quality in themselves and in others, always striving for accuracy and being right.

If the Conscientious type is looking to improve themselves, they need to start looking at more than just data, and accepting and acknowledging feelings, too.

What are the benefits of using the DiSC test?

There are several benefits of using the DiSC test, both in the workplace and for personal development. These include:

  • Raise self-awareness: individuals can get an understanding of who they are and why they do the things they do, especially as this test focuses on the behavioral expression of emotion

  • Raise awareness of others: when the characteristics of each type are understood, individuals can recognize where others fit - and that can improve understanding and communication, whether as part of a team, for subordinates, or even with customers.

  • More effective management: managers can allocate tasks to team members based on what they enjoy doing and what they are good at based on their types, allowing for better productivity and success

  • Improved engagement: employees who understand themselves and each other better are more likely to have empathy, especially when under pressure - and this builds a stronger workplace culture, leading to better employee retention and better productivity.

What are the limitations of the DiSC test?

As with other personality tests, the DiSC test does have some limitations; not least that it does not measure the ‘whole person’. People are a lot more complex than four basic types, and this does not take into account any of the other important facets of personality like emotional intelligence.

Other limitations of the DiSC test include:

  • Forced choice answering: employees have to choose between different options and this can limit the effectiveness of the results. This can also lead to boredom from the test-takers, especially as the DiSC test is so well used - they might have taken the test many times before.

  • Wilful deception: in a similar vein, the self-reporting nature of the assessment means that individuals can be wilfully deceptive in the way that they answer the test, skewing their results based on the answers they think they should be giving.

  • Comparisons are difficult: while you can compare these facets within the individual, the limitations of four types mean there is a whole breadth of experience that cannot be compared - for example, Dominant types might not all make good leaders because of other personality and behavior facets.

Should you be using the DiSC test?

what is a disc test: should you be using one to recruit

If you are considering using a DiSC test as part of your employee development process, there are a few things to think about.

Firstly, what are you going to use it for? It is a great tool for use when hiring as part of the onboarding process; this helps the individual understand more about themselves and their place on the team (as well as the personality types of others on the team). It is less useful when used as part of the hiring process; other personality tests are more suitable for use as pre-employment assessments.

The DiSC test is most useful (in most cases) when looking to improve teamwork and communication, whether that is within a team or by improving the relationship between managers and subordinates.

It can also be used to plan individual development programs, based on the reported personality type and the extra data that can be included in the results, such as tactics aimed specifically at improvement and development.

It is important to remember that the DiSC test is a useful tool but it is not a ‘whole person’ diagnostic and needs to be regarded as such.

Alternatives to the DiSC test

Everywhere you look on the internet, you will be able to find personality tests - and even different versions of the DiSC test. Not all these tests are created equal, however - and it is important to look for those that are scientifically validated and based on agreed psychological theories.

Some other tests that you might want to look at as an alternative to the DiSC assessment include:

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