News & Writings

We have been lucky to gain some press coverage as our consultants got interviewed a few times or inspired journalists to write an article. We are happy to share them with you:

Digging beyond diplomas and experience

(Oriental Express interview with Gabor Nagy, Managing Director of Shanghai HRO Consulting)

Getting or being the right person for a job takes more than just the right diplomas and experience. Personality says a lot too. Yet testing it for when recruiting or job-hunting is still rather uncommon in China. Gabor Nagy, managing director of Shanghai HRO Consulting, wants to change that, and developed a personality test especially for the Chinese market.

How important is personality anyway?

As important as the fact that you are different from others. Personality effects how we work and interact with others. Finding the right career is not easy for the individual, and finding the right person for the job is not easy for companies either. Currently these decisions are mostly made intuitively, and there is a high risk of disappointment on both sides.

Why do employers need the personality test? Most hiring mistakes are related to the effects of personality traits. A lot of conflicts also have their roots in personality differences. Knowing more about people's personality enables companies to better predict if somebody fits a job. Changing personality takes time and lots of energy, so it's better to know "what you can expect".

Why do employees need the personality test? The personality profile helps in self-understanding. It provides a structured view, stimulates thinking and raises self-awareness. Especially when you make your development decisions - it's better to know which way is suitable.

How did your company get the idea of developing the test? By accident: a friend of mine mentioned personality testing in general, and I immediately cried out: "That's it!". I have always been interested in psychology, and after 10 years in China, I had the feeling there would be a market here for this. I spent some time researching both available tests and market need - and it was very positive. Then we spent 1.5 years developing the test.

How widely used are personality tests in China now? Except for a few multinationals, most companies haven't started using them yet. Psychology, including occupational psychology, is still very underdeveloped here. For many reasons, like cultural issues: Chinese traditions ascribe high importance to age, sex, experience, credentials and guanxi rather than talent and job match. But management thinking is changing very fast, and the new generation of managers is very interested in the latest theories.

How stressful is doing the test? It takes about 30-50 minutes of focus and hard work. The process itself is not stressful, unless someone knows that he/she actually is not suitable for the position in question. One of our clients told us that one candidate, after having finished the test, told them that he/she was not suitable, and walked away from the interview.

How reliable are these kind of tests? Can people easily cheat? This is a long topic, but I can give a short answer. Yes, people can cheat the test - however getting close to the target profile is not easy at all. The best strategy is to give honest responses. There is a consistency indicator that can detect manipulation of the results. And trained, experienced test leaders will find out 'cheating' quickly.

What gives more chance of success: the right personality without proper education, or the proper education but wrong personality for a job? For sales and leadership, I would say personality is more important than education. Of course, on a higher level you need a certain education. But many people are well educated. The competition is driven and decided mainly by personality-related factors, how well you are able to apply your knowledge in a given surrounding.

By Babs Verblackt

Let the "Big 5" bolster your HRM

China-based HR practitioners are seemingly forever walking a thin line. On the demand side, they must continuously tackle a national shortage of highly experienced and capable employees at senior and technical levels, and rising salaries. On the supply side, practitioners must contend with ever-increasing numbers of applicants for entry level/graduate positions.

Undoubtedly, the advent of web- or computer-based selection tools has greatly increased the efficient handling of mass (entry level) applications. While the efficacy of these vary from system to system, it is a day far into the future -if it all- that they will replace essential face-to-face interviews, and the raison d’etre of many HR practitioners.

Yet when faced with a choice of one or more strong candidates at the mid-to-senior levels for a position which has a greater impact on the organisation - and hence a greater ‘risk’ - practitioners often confront the questions of how to ensure a good fit between the applicant, the organisation and the job? How to minimise the risk of turnover? Or another way, how to increase the predictive relationship between selection and job suitability.

Practitioners are armed with a broad range of selection tools comprising the selection “system”. Among these, psychometric tests measuring cognitive ability, work sample tests, interviews (structured and unstructured) figure prominently. While psychological research shows that work sample tests and cognitive ability measures by themselves are good predictors of job performance, implicit is the assumption of the effect of the candidate’s personality. And the use of psychometric tests to determine the relationship between personality and job performance had for many years been fraught with difficulty, proving tenuous at best.

‘Big Five’ –What is it?

More recently, US psychological researchers have developed just such a personality test.

Nick-named the ‘Big Five’, it meets many of the stringent scientific requirements before a test can be used by practitioners within an organisational or other applied setting. Based on adjectives found within the English dictionary and the natural language that describe character, the Big 5 (B5) provide a taxonomy or classification ‘groupings’ of personality traits –no genetic basis is assumed. A trait is a consistent pattern of thoughts, feelings or actions that distinguish one person from another and that generally remain stable over the course of one’s life.

Chiefly, the B5 draws five essential characteristics which represent the range of core personality traits. These are: Extroversion; Conscientiousness; Emotional Stability; Agreeableness; Openness to Experience.

Both research psychologists and practitioners have conducted evaluations throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Israel, New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines and South Korea. The good news is that general agreement has been found between these studies. Broadly speaking, this indicates that these five major traits are utilised throughout the world to describe personality. In organisational settings, the B5 test has been used on NZ police, blue collar workers, sales managers. For both police and sales managers, extraversion was a good predictor of proficiency, while conscientiousness and agreeableness show a positive relationship to fit for blue collar workers.


Tests to determine the fit between personality and job suitability are often used by companies. For example, the UK Business Test Publishers Association’s (BPTA) 2003 survey of 206 employers indicated that 56 percent use some form of personality test in their selection procedure. Likewise, the American Management Association’s (AMA) 2001 survey of 1,627 large corporation employers found that 69 percent of respondents used some form of testing, and that 29 percent used psychological measures for both applicants and employees.

More recently, (‘Personality testing gaining ground’ 23-10-03) cited very strong interest within China among MNCs in utilising the B5 test, as the traditional Chinese HR practitioner selection methods are being challenged by changing work practices and exposure to new HR/management ideas.

So, when faced with a difficult decision concerning recruitment and selection, clients might consider the use of the highly reputable B5 test, and only with those trained and qualified to administer and assess test results. J.M. Gemini utilises the services of HR Objective, the only China-based, internationally recognized and fully licensed developer, supplier and assessor of the B5 Chinese-language version or ‘Fit In’ test. The test is also available in English.

As always, to derive maximum benefit, the B5 should be utilised in conjunction with other selection tools such as job analysis, assessment centres and cognitive ability measures. Practitioners and researchers alike do not recommend the B5 be used as the sole selection method. Research indicates that cognitive ability tests, work sample tests and structured interviews by themselves are better than 50 percent effective. When selection methods are used in combination, selection effectiveness can reportedly be increased by up to as much as 75 percent.

By Elius Levin.

Elius is a Shanghai-based Australian editor and writer with experience over the past 20+ years, and an internationally published HR specialist and business writer. View further work and contact him via

Team Roles in Action

The FiT In feedback talk so far went very smooth and lively. Mr. S. listened to his results with great interest and confirmed them to "fit" very well.

In the Team Role Report, he comes out as a Helper, Promoter and Perfecter.

While I am explaining to him, how the different roles contribute and how a team suffers from bad team role composition, he suddenly turns to be very serious:

"Does this mean, that a team that does not contain every role will meet performance problems?"

I reply yes, if the task is complex, but he also should keep in mind, that normally one person can perform several roles in the team. That's why most teams finally work out somehow.

"But if there is a team of only two very similar people, would they be supposed to meet problems?"

Having overlaps and missing roles does not mean, that a team is completely unable to perform in an at least sufficient way, but it is quite likely, that there will be areas in team-work, where two very similar people would considerably lack efficiency or drive or care or sensitivity - depending on the roles they are not covering. Such a team still could succeed, but to do so, it would need to know the weak areas, and would need to look for external support or to work out special support routines.

Mr. S. became quiet for a moment then said: "In fact I just was thinking about setting up my own business together with a good friend. We really wanted to start, but everything is still quite vague, and we didn't get any further yet."

Now I understood his issue. They probably think and do things very similarly, that's why they are good friends. And that's what made Mr. S. worrying now. Would this step be too risky? Was there a reason, that they were not really progressing with their plan? What if they are lacking a crucial skill necessary for success?

The solution was simple: Mr. S. immediately contacted his friend. The next day the friend had taken FiT In too.

The results were clear: They proved them to be just as similar as Mr. S. thought, and it revealed very clearly two issues that they would have to take special care about.

One of these issues was quite central - and in fact most likely the one that was affecting the planning efficiency. Having faced that, the two men quickly could name a third, very closely related person, that would be able to help them out.

For the other area, we recommended external input from various sources, but it's impact on the planned project was not too big anyhow.

After compensating the missing role, they moved forward quickly. The project was on its track.

Is team role composition only crucial in small teams?

A US survey asked team leaders, team members and human resources managers to identify the top reasons of teamwork failure in 400 organizations, including many Fortune 500 companies. Among other reasons, the following top internal reasons were identified:

- Team members don't spend enough time planning how they will work together. (42% of respondents)

- Team members don't know how to reconcile differences or resolve interpersonal conflict. (42% of respondents)

That's where the FiT In Team Role Reports can help:
- in distributing tasks properly and
- in achieving optimal cooperation
by addressing individual differences in a practical and constructive manner.

How is your team set up? Is there room for improvement? With FiT In it is easier than you think!

Personality Testing Gaining Ground

(Article in CBIZ.CN)

Shanghai - A few multinationals already use personality tests for their future employees, but most companies do not. According to Gabor Nagy, managing director of Shanghai HRO Consulting with 12 years China experience, there are various reasons for the underdevelopment of the use of such tests.

"Using personality tests requires both talent, training and experience. Especially in the beginning, an HR manager needs to invest time and energy in it, and not all can do so," says Nagy. "Also, there is the intellectual property problem. Test development is very expensive and most big foreign test publishers are afraid that their products - once they invest into localization - will be copied. That's why there is a lack of good products in China."

Cultural issues, however, might be the most important factor. "Chinese traditions ascribe high importance to age, sex, experience, credentials and guanxi instead of talent and job match," Nagy continues. "However, management thinking is changing very fast. There is a new generation of Chinese managers who read the latest books and apply advanced methods. It's amazing what you can find in the bookstores, a lot of the latest management Gurus books are there and sell well."

Nagy finds there is a great interest in the Chinese personality test - Fit In™ - his company launched recently after 1,5 year of development and testing. The test measures all kinds of personality traits that are the base for competencies and job performance in many managerial and knowledge worker positions.

"It's a made in China for China test, though the underlying principles and basic research come from abroad," Nagy says. "In companies where we tested people and have given feedback, people often talk about the experience. Some people were quite touched with the results. There is a man who keeps his profiles on his desk all the time."

He expects more and more companies will realize that personality is an important factor in job matching, which will improve the current situation. "Finding the right career is not easy for the individual, and finding the right person is not easy for the company either. Currently these decisions are made intuitively most of the time, and there is a high risk of disappointment on both sides. To have a good view of one's personality, to know what is in an employee's power and what goes beyond it, can save a lot of trouble."

By Babs Verblackt

Originally published at:, China Business Infocenter

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