Productive, Low-Turnover Employees Are Disciplined People: Assessing Applicants’ Discipline Level

By Michael Mercer

Managers seldom talk about how good employees are people who use discipline. They often feel it sounds to say employees need discipline. In fact, employee discipline comes up in conversations only when an employee breaks company policies, and gets disciplined.

But, my research benchmarking pre-employment tests for hundreds of jobs in hundreds of companies consistently finds companies’ best, most valued and productive employees practically always are very disciplined on-the-job.



Pre-employment personality and intelligence tests are used by companies that want a scientific method to evaluate applicants. Such pre-hire tests or assessments predict which applicants possess qualities similar to a company’s best employees. Valued, superstar employees are both

> Highly Productive

> Low Turnover

Benchmarking to find pre-employment test scores of the best employees almost always shows companies’ highly productive and low-turnover employees get benchmark or typical high test scores on

+ Rigidly Following Rules, Policies, & Procedures

+ Fact-Focus

+ Poised Reactions to Pressure

+ Optimistic, Solution-Oriented Attitude

In contrast, unproductive and high turnover employees tend to get the opposite pre-employment personality test scores:

– Lax or Rebelling about Following Rules, Policies, & Procedures

– Feeling- or Emotion-Focused

– Complaining & Whining Reaction to Pressure

– Pessimistic, Problem-Obsessed Attitude

Important: Make sure you test your best employees to devise benchmark pre-employment test scores. By doing this, you can compare each job candidate’s test scores to test scores of your company’s best employees in the specific job.


In addition to employment personality tests, you also can use other methods to see if a job candidate may be a disciplined person.

To do such evaluation, remember this rule: “Whatever behavior you see from an applicant during your screening process is likely the very, very best behavior you ever will see from that person.”

So, give the applicant some assignments or homework to do as part of the applicant screening process. For example, if you let applicant take pre-employment personality or intelligence tests online from her/his home, tell candidate definite deadline to complete taking test. Then, see if applicant meets that deadline.

Another example is for you to give the applicant a work simulation: Give the job candidate materials and information to complete tasks similar to tasks the person would do on-the-job. See if the applicant does that in disciplined, orderly, and organized manner.

Also, if you want to talk with the applicant again on the phone, schedule specific day and time for applicant to call you. Then, see if candidate calls you that day at the precise time you specified.


Pre-employment testing research shows companies’ best, most valued employees are disciplined people. They (1) follow rules, (2) focus on achieving specific work goals, (3) react to pressure with poise, and (4) optimistically focus on solutions rather not problems.

These are the types of employees are (A) highly productive and (B) low turnover.

So, use applicant assessment methods to predict if a job candidate may become a terrific employee. These candidate evaluation methods include pre-employment tests, pre-hire homework, work simulations, and seeing if applicant follows your instructions. Such assessment methods help you hire disciplined employees who help your organization increase productivity and profits.

About the author

Michael Mercer, Ph.D., created 3 pre-employment tests to assess job applicants. His 3 Forecaster™ Tests help companies hire great employees and avoid hiring lousy employees. Dr. Mercer authored 6 books, including Hire the Best & Avoid the Rest™. Also, he delivers entertaining and informative speeches. You can talk to Dr. Mercer at 847-382-0690, or read about his 3 pre-employment tests, 6 books and speeches at