Understanding Talent Assessments: Comparing DiSC, Predictive Index, HBDI, and Hogan

Training & Development  |  June 6, 2019

One of the keys to successful talent development is to know your employees and for them to know a bit more about themselves. Self-awareness is the foundation for excellent leadership skills. If you want to develop talent from within your organization, you may systematically invest in methods to more fully engage your employees, helping them be successful and grow in their roles.

As part of a talent development program, it is often helpful to offer talent assessments to employees so that they, and you can, have a better picture of how they see themselves and their interactions with others.

Do an internet search for “talent assessment tools” and you’ll get a lot of hits. Among them are sites that describe various assessments that identify certain characteristics that individuals demonstrate through their answers to various questions. Many people are familiar with the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, which is one of the numerous available tests.

These psychometric tools can be used in training, coaching and for developmental purposes. These assessments can be interesting ways to get to know yourself, your employees, and your colleagues, and a bit more about your working preferences, propensities and styles. Some describe personality traits based on the Jungian theory of types, others focus on describing behaviors in work-related situations: management or leadership styles, communication, negotiation, problem-solving or thinking and learning preferences.

We’re going to take a look at four of them: DiSC, Hogan, Predictive Index, and HBDI.


DiSC is an acronym for the four behavioral preferences that it measures: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. The assessment consists of approximately 80 phrases, for which takers need to rate their agreement (from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree”), for example, “I can be pretty forceful with my opinions.”

Wiley, which publishes the assessment, describes the four styles as follows:

Dominance: Person places emphasis on accomplishing results, the bottom line, confidence

Influence: Person places emphasis on influencing or persuading others, openness, relationships

Steadiness: Person places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, dependability

Conscientiousness: Person places emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise, competency.

Psychologist William Mouton Marston described the four profiles in his 1928 book, Emotions of Normal People. He believed that behavioral expression of emotions could be categorized into types (Dominance, Inducement, Submission, Compliance), based on a person’s perceptions of self in relation to his or her environment.

Knowing this key trait would help someone understand and manage their experiences and relationships with others. He did not develop the DiSC assessment; rather, numerous people used his work as the basis for various assessments in the years that followed.

Wiley asserts that after taking the test, individuals can:

  • Increase their self-knowledge, such as how they respond to conflict, what motivates them, what causes them stress, and how they solve problems
  • Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
  • Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members

Predictive Index

The Predictive Index is another assessment based on Marston’s work. Arnold Daniels developed the PI Behavioral Assessment in 1952. The Predictive Index measures four drives that determine workplace behavior: Dominance, Extraversion, Patience, and Formality.

Dominance (the “A drive”) is the drive to exert influence on people or events.

According to The Predictive Index, an employee with a low amount of the dominance drive is collaborative and prefer to be recognized as part of a team, and tends to shy away from individual competition.

An employee with a high amount of the dominance drive is independent and prefers individual recognition, and can sometimes come across as authoritarian.

Extraversion (the “B drive”) is the drive for social interaction with other people.

An employee with a low amount of the extraversion drive takes time to trust others and needs opportunities to reflect. Low-extraversion employees prefer private recognition, and they can sometimes come across as matter-of-fact.

An employee with a high amount of the extraversion drive connects easily with others and needs opportunities to influence others. High-extraversion employees prefer public recognition and like seeing visible signs of accomplishments.

Patience (the “C drive”) is the drive to have consistency and stability.

An employee with a low amount of the patience drive needs variety. Low-patience employees can sometimes be seen as intense, restless, impatient, or brisk.

An employee with a high amount of patience drive craves a stable work environment and the ability to work at a steady pace. High-patience employees tend to form long-term affiliations and like being recognized for their loyalty.

Formality (the “D drive”) is the drive to conform to rules and structure.


An employee with a low amount of the formality drive needs freedom from rigid structure. Low-formality employees are flexible, informal, and adaptable.

An employee with a high amount of the formality drive needs clarity of expectations and time to gain expertise. High-formality employees are meticulous, thorough, and disciplined, and prefer to be recognized for depth of knowledge.


The Predictive Index assessment is similar to the DSC assessment: It is an 86-item, free-choice, adjective checklist adjective checklist designed specifically for improving employee selection decisions. Assessment takers are given two lists of adjectives. From the first list, they select the words that describe the way others expect them to act. From the second list, they select the words that describe them in their own opinion. Each adjective is associated with one of the four factors listed above.


The Herrmann Brain Dominance Index® (HBDI) is not a personality instrument but a self-assessment on individuals’’ preferred thinking and learning styles. Users ask themselves, “How do I process information?” Ned Herrmann developed this four-quadrant model of cognitive preferences and a questionnaire. The work is based on his Whole Brain Model Theory.

Hermann believed that each person’s brain has four quadrants. (The right and left sides of the brain are further divided into front and back sections.) Everyone’s thinking and learning processes are different depending on which quadrants they use. Hermann described the four quadrants as follows:

A: Left cerebral hemisphere – analytical

For people whose A quadrant is dominant, they prefer quantifying, analyzing, theorizing and processing logically.

B: Left limbic system – practical

For people whose B quadrant is dominant, they prefer organizing, sequencing, evaluating and planning.

C: Right limbic system – Relational

For people whose C quadrant is dominant, they prefer sharing, internalizing, moving and being involved.

D: Right cerebral hemisphere – Experimental

For people whose D quadrant is dominant, they prefer exploring, discovering, conceptualizing and synthesizing.

Hermann Global explains that the HBDI can be paired well with the DSC assessment and that it provides insight into thinking preferences, which may or may not inform someone’s behavior. Thinking preferences also influence how people communicate, make decisions, problem solve and innovate. All of these are behaviors that can be addressed during talent development activities.


Hogan has created a number of assessments. Its most well-known is the Hogan Development Survey, which addresses the so-called “Dark Side of Personality.” Hogan explains that these are “qualities that emerge in times of increased strain and can disrupt relationships, damage reputations, and derail peoples’ chances of success. By assessing dark-side personality [or derailers], you can recognize and mitigate performance risks before they become a problem.”

Under typical circumstances, these are attributes that can be strengths, but, if left unchecked, can cause problems when one is under stress, especially at work. It uses 11 personality scales and 33 subscales to help leaders recognize shortcomings, maximize strengths, and build successful teams.

All of these (and other) assessments can be used to foster discussions about individuals’ working styles, needs, ways of thinking and learning, and how teams can work together in ways that benefit everyone and the entire organization.

If you want to include an assessment as part of employee development, KnowledgeForce can help, Contact us today.

Read our comprehensive employer guide on talent development.

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