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Profilingvalues – A Journey into the Self

by Natascha Zeljko

What can we learn from the personality tests used in recruiting? We tried out profilingvalues, a psychometric method, and were surprised –*spoiler*– by the accuracy of the analysis

In the past, recruiters relied on personal experience and gut feeling. But that was long ago. In the meantime, they have personality tests at their disposal with which they can measure and illuminate the inner workings of applicants. There are dozens of methods with different concepts and focuses, from harmless mailbox exercises to stress tests such as case studies and psychological potential analyses. Not all are serious or scientifically validated, as not all are practicable for everyone. It is – once again – complicated.

What is profilingvalues?

Profilingvalues is a procedure that is still considered an insider tip in Germany, the validity and reliability of which have been supported by several scientific studies. Profilingvalues is a so-called psychometric procedure. The basic assumption (simplified) is that personal values lead to reliable conclusions on abilities and determine actions. The procedure is based on the scientific work of the logician and philosopher Robert S. Hartman (1910 – 1973) and was further developed and extended to the realm of job/career by Dr. Ulrich Vogel. The testing procedure is mainly used by HR in recruiting or in personnel development, but it is also used in sensitive areas, such as youth welfare offices, to check whether foster families are up to the task.

How profilingvalues Works

You receive an online questionnaire and rate four sets of 18 terms or statements from “good” to “bad”, from 1 (very good) to 18 (very bad). While that sounds simple, it turns out to be rather difficult, the problem being the gradation. Which is better: “a good meal”, “a baby”, or “a mathematical genius”? One begins to wonder what secret code might be hidden behind the terms. Is a mathematical genius, let’s say Albert Einstein, to be rated higher because he did something groundbreaking for humanity? Or the baby, because it represents the beginning of human life? And what is worse: “burn a heretic at the stake” or “torture a person to death”? Help!

At first, I try to proceed rationally, but then I realize there is no pattern. So I simply answer intuitively and am done within 15 minutes. 

That is, of course, intended. Many tests are too transparent and tempt test-takers into choosing socially desirable statements to create a desired image of themselves. That is impossible with profilingvalues. Behind the seemingly simple study design is a complex mathematical system. The deviations from the average are particularly interesting, resulting in an individual pattern that allows conclusions to be drawn about strengths and weaknesses and potentials. In addition, the results are extremely differentiated. Rating 18 terms means – math warning! – 6.4 quadrillion possibilities. A 16-digit number. 

The Evaluation

I get the results a few days later, personally explained by Patricia Moro, who is a certified profilingvalues expert. I must say, it’s exciting. Nearly as exciting as getting your semester grades sent to you. Altogether, 12 characteristics are represented, among others there is empathy, practical thinking, structured thinking, solution orientation, stability, and assertiveness. And these 12 characteristics are each divided into ability (potential) and will (how much attention is devoted to this topic). A bar symbolizes ability, a diamond the will – whereby a normal distribution applies: 50 percent corresponds to the average of the population, everything below this value is below, everything above this is (logically) above average. In addition, a diagram decodes six types of people: the philanthropist, the pragmatist, the structured thinker, the independent, the doer, the goal-oriented. In contrast to other methods, one is not assigned to a category, but the respective individual proportions are shown. It seems plausible and more differentiated – after all, one has all character traits, but in different manifestations.

Example of an evaluation: The bar symbolizes the ability (potential) of the test subject, the diamond the will (how much attention is devoted to this topic)

The conversation lasts one hour, I let myself be guided step-by-step through the diagrams and explanations. To share a few examples, without going into too much detail or revealing too much; on the potential side, bars show extremely high empathy values, but also practical thinking and structured thinking are far above average. What is striking is the diamond, i.e. what I actually demand. This is low with the otherwise high empathy value, and very high/almost congruent in the category doing. And that’s not surprising, since it reflects my current situation as a founder. My energy is completely spent on doing and implementing, emotional questions are being faded out right now. 

Conclusion

All in all, I have to say that I am a bit shocked at the accuracy of this analysis – it’s like face recognition on the inside. I experience things that I knew and others that I only suspected or perhaps suppressed. It’s pretty spot-on. Much of what I am told in the analysis is flattering (doer qualities, unconventional thinker), others less (I won’t divulge). In the end, I get suggestions for development; a few points on which I could work. 

And, in fact, since then I’ve noticed things I wasn’t aware of and I try to react differently. To slow down, also for others. Now it’s out. 

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