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The Pitfalls of a 5-Minute Behavioral Assessment

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11 Pitfalls of a 5-Minute Free Choice Behavioral Assessment 

In the fast-paced corporate world, efficiency is often a top priority. This drive for quick solutions has led to the adoption of brief assessment tools, such as the 5-minute free-choice behavioral assessment, aimed at evaluating employee behaviors and personality traits. While the appeal of such an open and succinct tool is undeniable, offering rapid insights with minimal investment of time and flexibility, its application within an organizational setting raises several concerns. This blog post delves into 11 complexities and potential drawbacks of relying on a 5-minute free choice behavioral assessment for making informed decisions about employees and teams.

The 11 Areas Explored Are:


Plus, we explore various assessments that can be used given context and organizational and individual need.

1. Superficial Analysis


A fundamental issue with a 5-minute behavioral assessment is the depth of analysis it can provide. Behavioral patterns and personality traits are complex and multifaceted, shaped by a myriad of factors including personal experiences, cultural background, and situational contexts. Condensing the evaluation of such intricate constructs into a mere five minutes inevitably leads to a superficial understanding, glossing over the nuances that are crucial for a comprehensive behavioral analysis. This superficiality risks oversimplifying human behavior, reducing it to broad strokes that may not accurately represent an individual's full behavioral spectrum.


2. Lack of Contextual Relevance


Behavioral assessments are most valuable when they consider the specific context in which behaviors are manifested. A 5-minute assessment, by its very nature, lacks the capacity to account for contextual variables that significantly influence behavior. For instance, an employee's behavior in a high-pressure situation at work may differ markedly from their behavior in a more relaxed setting on a Friday afternoon. Without the ability to capture these contextual nuances, the assessment may yield results that are not entirely relevant or applicable to the organizational environment.


3. Potential for Bias


Short assessments are particularly susceptible to biases, both from the respondents and the interpreters of the results. Respondents may provide answers they believe are desirable or expected for the job requirements, rather than those that truly reflect their behavior, a phenomenon known as social desirability bias. Additionally, the rapid nature of a 5-minute assessment leaves little room to counteract inherent biases, such as confirmation bias, where the interpreter sees what they expect to see in the results. These biases can skew the assessment outcomes, leading to inaccurate conclusions about an individual's behavior.


4. Overreliance on Limited Data


Making significant organizational decisions based on the results of a 5-minute behavioral assessment poses the risk of overreliance on limited data. Employment decisions, team formations, and leadership appointments are critical choices that should be informed by a comprehensive understanding of an individual's capabilities, behaviors, and potential. Relying on the cursory insights provided by a brief assessment for such decisions can lead to mismatches between individuals' roles and their actual skills or behaviors, potentially impacting team dynamics, productivity, and overall organizational effectiveness.


5. Questionable Validity and Reliability


The validity and reliability of a 5-minute behavioral assessment are subjects of concern. Validity refers to the extent to which the assessment measures what it purports to measure, while reliability pertains to the consistency of the assessment results over time. Given the condensed nature of a 5-minute assessment, ensuring its validity and reliability is challenging and that’s why providers tout validity studies and respondents question “why have my results changed?”  Without rigorous studies, there's a risk that the assessment may not accurately capture valid behavioral traits, or that results vary significantly upon repeated administrations with a respondent.   

Validity is a requirement to meet legal requirements and some providers will proclaim that they've had hundreds of validity studies on their instruments. They will even provide hundreds of pages of support. These providers however fail to mention that most of the studies were actually paid for by clients who wanted to validate the measurement to job criteria. Validity studies are costly and time consuming.

When considering a 5-minute assessment, it is critical to identify the research, resources and professional credentials of the internal staff who oversee the validity of the instrument itself.


6. Insufficient Personalization


Individual differences are a cornerstone of behavioral assessment. However, a 5-minute format severely restricts the assessment's ability to personalize questions or interpretive frameworks to the individual being assessed. This one-size-fits-all approach overlooks the unique attributes and circumstances of each employee in how they handle nuanced situations, potentially leading to generalized results that do not provide actionable insights for position placement, personal development or organizational placement.


7. Undermining Employee Engagement


The use of a 5-minute behavioral assessment can inadvertently signal to employees that the organization does not value a deep understanding of its workforce. This perception can undermine employee engagement and morale, as individuals may feel reduced to mere data points rather than being recognized as complex beings with diverse talents and potential. Employees may also feel that their job prospects are limited to only the job they were assessed for.  Engaged employees are more likely to be productive, committed, and loyal; thus, any tool or process that jeopardizes employee engagement poses a significant risk to organizational health.


8. Neglecting Developmental Opportunities


Effective behavioral assessments should ideally facilitate personal and professional development by identifying areas for growth and providing feedback. A 5-minute assessment, with its inherent limitations, is ill-equipped to fulfill this function. It may identify broad behavioral tendencies but lacks the depth to offer meaningful insights and unconscious biases that individuals can act upon for their development. This missed opportunity for fostering growth and development can stifle talent evolution and adaptation within the organization.


9. Legal and Ethical Considerations


The implementation of any behavioral assessment tool within an organization must be navigated with careful consideration of ethical and legal implications. A brief assessment may inadvertently contravene principles of fairness and equity, especially if used as a basis for employment decisions. The risk of discrimination, whether intentional or not, is heightened when decisions are based on potentially flawed or incomplete data. Ensuring compliance with employment laws and ethical standards is paramount, and a 5-minute behavioral assessment may complicate this objective.

Just about a year or so ago many providers claimed their instruments were compliant with EEOC; however, these proclamations are rather hard to find these days. According to SHRM, ensure the test has predictive validity and are bias free.


10. The Illusion of Efficiency


While a 5-minute behavioral assessment may appear efficient on the surface, it can lead to inefficiencies in the long run. Improperly trained staff to administer and interpret the results, incorrect or incomplete assessments may result in poor decision-making, necessitating additional time and resources to rectify mistakes, such as re-training team members, reassigning roles, addressing team conflicts, or revisiting hiring decisions. The initial time savings can be quickly overshadowed by the time and effort required to address the repercussions of relying on an inadequate assessment tool.


11.  Artificial Intelligence Augmentation


Respondents might leverage AI tools to assist them in completing a 5-minute behavioral assessment (especially if it is an untimed assessment), potentially altering the assessment's intended outcomes. For example, AI-powered language processing tools could help them identify the best responses, which may not fully capture their spontaneous reactions or genuine personality traits. Such tools could provide suggestions for more desirable answers based on perceived success patterns, leading respondents to tailor their responses toward what they believe the AI deems as optimal, rather than providing authentic reflections of their behavior. This interaction with AI could inadvertently lead to a more strategic approach to the assessment, focusing on achieving favorable results rather than offering true insights into someone’s behavioral tendencies.

The most important tip of all:

Try it out for yourself. It's free and takes only moments. Visit Chat GPT and type or copy/paste the following with whatever position: Provide a list of approximately 20 adjectives without definitions that would describe valuable personality traits for XXXXX position?




The allure of a 5-minute behavioral free-choice assessment lies in its promise of quick insights, aligning with the modern corporate ethos of speed and efficiency. However, the complexities and intricacies of human behavior demand a more thoughtful and thorough approach. The potential drawbacks of such a brief assessment—ranging from superficial analysis and contextual irrelevance to legal and ethical concerns—underscore the need for more comprehensive assessment tools that provide meaningful, actionable insights. Organizations must carefully weigh the perceived benefits of efficiency against the potential risks and long-term implications of using a 5-minute free-choice behavioral assessment. In the quest to understand and harness the full potential of their workforce, depth and quality of insight should not be sacrificed at the altar of expediency.


Talent Authority Note:  

At Talent Authority, we provide a diverse range of assessments from various providers, boasting expertise across a broad spectrum of tools. Distinct from firms tied to exclusive partnerships with single assessment providers, our approach is centered on a comprehensive understanding of your organizational requirements. Our priority is to recommend solutions that align with your specific needs, even if we do not sell/service them, rather than focusing on meeting sales targets.

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