Does being extroverted make a successful real estate agent? Labeling recruits as introverted could be losing brokerages potential top-performing agents.
Various brokerages and team leaders are using personality assessments in their modern-day recruiting efforts. In an industry where the entry-level barrier is relatively low, as anyone can become a salesperson if they pass their licensing exam, brokers are looking for ways to separate the possible rainmakers from the low-producing crowd.
But there are concerns that using assessed behavioral trends in hiring practices could have negative repercussions, such as putting someone in a box that stifles creativity and enforcing stereotypes that suppress personal and business growth.
What’s being used?
While there are a number of assessments, they typically all provide a detailed analysis of an individual’s persona based on several criteria.
DISC, for example, looks at the following elements—Enthusiasm, Collaboration, Support, Stability, Accuracy, Challenge, Results and Action—and then assigns a letter value (D, I, S or C) depending on the mix of results. From there, it builds a big-picture report that gives recruiters a sense of how an individual might function in a certain role.
Some brokerages have their own assessment. Century 21 Real Estate, for example, has Real Estate Simulator, which determines salesperson success according to five categories: Sociability, Assertiveness, Achievement, Dependability and Emotional Resilience.
Then there’s the generalized options that are more widely used, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (M.B.T.I.).
What are the challenges?
The trouble comes with growth. For teams hiring admin, they often choose someone based on assessment results that support this specific role. If, however, that new hire wants to advance into another position in the future, it could complicate things. For example, if the team leader feels the individual did not do well enough in the “Assertiveness” category, they may be wary about allowing them to switch roles, even if real-life experience has shown that the person could adapt and thrive in a new position.
Additionally, some individuals may not be completely truthful when taking these assessments for fear of not being hired or being perceived a certain way. This means that people who have the skillsets and personality to do very well in a salesperson role could be easily overlooked if they don’t score accordingly. That goes for those hired as well—an individual may not be a perfect fit for a role, even if they scored within the desired range.
According to a New York Times article, the validity of results also come into question when things like race/ethnicity, gender, region, socioeconomic status and disability are considered. Life experiences and backgrounds can highly influence how someone interprets the questions in an assessment, as well as how one interprets the score.
What do agents think?
RISMedia spoke with two agents who were asked to take personality assessments at some point in their real estate careers. Marie Santiago is a REALTOR® with Realty ONE Group and Kim Venable (who took a DISC exam) is a REALTOR® with Mathers Realty. Here’s what they had to say:
Tell us about an experience where you had to take a personality assessment when applying for a job in real estate.
Marie Santiago: I took the personality test six years ago as part of an application process. I would not have been able to move forward with the application process without the test. I was applying for an administrative position supporting a real estate team.
Kim Venable: This firm and especially this team wanted to know the personalities of their new hires. I was told that I wasn’t a high enough “D.” The person that was interviewing me said if I was hired by their team, we would need to work on getting my “D” higher. I felt they wanted me to be “in your face” and aggressive (to their standards).
Do you believe your assessment results were accurate?
MS: Most of the results were accurate.
KV: There was nothing that came up that I didn’t already know about myself. I am a high “S.”
What are the benefits of using personality assessments in recruiting efforts?
MS: The results of the test were helpful for this specific interview process as it helped the employer understand the best way to communicate with me.
KV: I believe it’s good for a team to understand their teammates’ personalities. It’s like any relationship: When you understand the other’s “love language,” it’s easier to understand your counterpart.
And what about the challenges?
MS: The purpose of recruiting is to create a talent pool of the best candidates based on skill level and/or experiences, if applicable. When I looked to transition out of an administrative role one year later, there was an attempt to use my results against me. The person tried to say that my results demonstrated that I would not be successful in another role. I decided to pursue a new role anyway and have been successful despite the results of the personality assessment.
KV: It could also be a detriment because the person “on paper” isn’t always the same person in real life. Not everyone is good at taking a test. If the person is nervous about said test, they may not be answering questions to their best ability.
Can you tell us what happened after you took these assessments?
MS: I believe being hired was a direct result of the assessment results. The individual was looking for a particular personality that would ultimately support and match his own.
KV: It wasn’t a good fit for either of us. I have a dominant personality, especially in business. My dominance level didn’t fit the box they wanted. They wanted me to be dominant in sales. My dominance is in negotiations and the ability to get a task done and on time. They were more focused on the production they wanted me to bring to their team.
Using Personality Assessments as a Guide
While these assessments can be helpful in determining how an individual resolves conflict and manages stress in the workplace, brokers and team leaders should use them only as a guide when hiring. As Santiago and Venable have shown, individual personalities can go beyond what is assessed in an exam, and underestimating applicants who don’t score in the ideal range could lead to losing out on profitable agents.
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.