A conversation with Dr Rainer Kurz
Last week, I interviewed HUCAMA’s Chief Psychologist, Dr Rainer Kurz. We discussed why personality is important in the workplace and how HUCAMA Factors can be a beneficial solution for employee development and recruitment.
What is your background within the psychometrics industry?
Rainer’s interest in psychometric assessments started when he was 19 years old, when he studied psychology at the University of Wurzburg in Bavaria.
“I tortured my friends with an audio-visual reaction time test that I programmed on a Commodore C64 computer. So, I've been into computer-based assessment for a very long time.”
After his studies in Germany, Rainer began his Masters at the University of Hull, in Industrial Psychology. It is here where he met his lecturer, mentor, and later boss, Professor Dave Bartram.
After being a ‘guinea pig’ on a training course in BPS Level A and B psychometric testing, Rainer decided to apply for jobs in the UK to expand his testing and recruitment experience. After a successful application to SHL, Rainer spent 12 years in test development, validation work, and computer-based assessment.
“All of it became quite useful, and in the late nineties my former supervisor Professor Dave Bartram, became my boss, and took an interest in the Great 8 competencies that I had proposed, and suddenly it became official and popular.”
After working at SHL for 12 years, and various trips across the globe, he then moved to Saville Assessment where he stayed for 9 years and Cubiks, now known as Talogy, where he developed 6 assessment tools in 6 years. During this time, Rainer had formed a good relationship with HUCAMA CEO, Michele Guarini. In June 2020, Rainer was ready for something new and joined Michele at HUCAMA.
“Michele was part of the competency-based human resources project group at SHL, and much of the thinking behind HUCAMA is taking the Great 8 to new levels and the idea of competency fit. So, when I started to look into the HUCAMA systems, every week I was surprised by some new element that I hadn't seen before, and that was even before I started. Now, we have developed quite a lot of good stuff, and I think we are set up to compete with the leading providers of assessment tools and I'm looking forward to developing that over the next 10 years.”
Why do you think it’s important to measure personality in the workplace?
Rainer describes the two most important features in the workplace as performance and wellbeing. Performance, or lack of performance, is important to consider as there can be economic, commercial, technological, and social consequences. In well-run organisations, individuals have the opportunity to perform and consequently enjoy their work and receive positive feedback. In organisations that constrain or misguide action, performance and wellbeing will suffer, which is where the idea of derailment comes in. Personality and ability are dispositional predictors of performance and wellbeing, and they allow us to understand the individual better.
“Personality underpins a lot of performance, jointly with ability. So that's why, in our model, we have 8 behavioural factors with reasoning at the heart. Ability interacts with personality to produce behaviour that is visible, but also impacts outcomes that are not directly visible and might only become apparent months or years later.”
“By increasing self-awareness and increasing awareness of other people's personality, we can improve performance and wellbeing at the workplace.”
What are the main benefits of using HUCAMA Factors?
The HUCAMA Factors tools are built on 40 years of occupational testing research, development, and proven practices. The tools incorporate the key features that make other major tools, such as the OPQ, Wave and Hogan assessments, successful.
“We set out to stand on the shoulders of giants…we try to incorporate all that simultaneously".
"We pick the top features and squeeze the lemon and put more features on top”.
What is your favourite component of the HUCAMA FACTORS assessment?
Rainer’s favourite component is the Personality Factors (PF) Dynamic Expert Report, which is an accumulation of his 30 years of computer-based assessment experience.
“To develop a high calibre, high validity tool with dynamic interactive reporting, that is exciting”.
One of the main features is item level reporting including ‘Tie breakers’ which identify where individuals have given extreme answers. This is useful for feedback conversations and helps to probe into ‘faking good’ and exploring potential overuse of behaviours. Other features include an ‘Intra-Personal’ score, which identifies potential behaviours when someone is under pressure, a ‘Talent Gap Indicator’, where talent can be higher or lower than the personality inclination that is expressed, and a ‘Range’ indicator that serves as an individualised indicator of measurement accuracy.
“It is really unique that we have this scalable solution where you can use the smaller, shortest tool at an entry level [PF16], the mid-level tool at a professional level [PF32], and the top-level tool [PF48] at the executive level. Pricing is linear so that at the top end we are compatible with the leading brands and the entry level, the general tool, is very affordable.”
“The unique selling point here is that we have an integrated and scalable solution across the employee lifecycle”.
How can the HUCAMA Personality Factors help in Recruitment?
In developing the HUCAMA Factors, Rainer and his team took great care in creating questionnaires, that can be used in a recruitment setting and as part of a general solution for people’s everyday experience. Within this, they have created fit indices for 16 job areas, which allow for in-depth recruitment assessments and potential interview questions to be used when needed.
“so that makes the PF16 for example, a very powerful tool. In just 10 minutes, you cover the ground of the Big 5 and the Great 8, and you can drill into the results using the in-depth features of the report”.
How can the HUCAMA Personality Factors help in development?
Rainer suggests development is all about self-awareness and being aware of others. To avoid the impact of positive or self-critical response styles, the Role Wheel report allows for a concentrated analysis of the pattern of results, rather than the individual points. The Role Wheel Report includes a page titled ‘Derailment Risks’, where 3 high scores and 2 low scores are compared and contrasted.
“It's not having a high score on positive constructs, such as being imaginative, that's a derailment factor or derailment risk. It's the high creativity combined with low structure, that's where you might get eccentric behaviours, or forgetting to invoice a client or doing your time sheets, and so on. So, it's the combination of highs and lows that are out of balance, which we believe are underpinning derailment risk.”
Do you find that people who use it in recruitment are more likely to have a positive view of themselves, than if they’re using it for development?
Rainer believes that some people may try to fake good, whilst others may not be aware that they are tailoring their answers. The importance lies within understanding how the individual has completed the assessment.
“To some extent I think it's a matter of when completing the questionnaire, imagining yourself in the job role and how you think you would react. Do you call that faking, or is it just engaging with the job role, and anticipating how you would perform in the job?
We shouldn't jump to the conclusion that people have been faking. Elevated results need skilled interpretation and probing. We provide indicators to go deeper to reach the parts that other tools can't reach.”
The HUCAMA FACTORS assessment suite derives from years of experience by psychometric expert Dr Rainer Kurz. To become qualified in the HUCAMA FACTORS assessments, contact us today.