Personality tests can help employers make more informed decisions about potential long-term employees — but there are pros and cons.
Here's what you need to know:
- When evaluating whether a personality test can successfully screen candidates during the hiring process, there's a lot to consider
- Employers use personality tests when hiring to evaluate fit with company culture, assess soft skills, and more
- Common types of personality tests include the Big Five personality test, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and more
- Potential drawbacks of using personality tests are that they can be time-consuming and expensive, and are not always reliable
As the global shift into culture-driven organizations occurs, the recruitment and hiring landscape has also changed. In such a competitive hiring environment, the use of technology and tools like personality tests enables employers to quickly identify which job applicants have the potential to be not just a culture fit but also high-performing employees.
There is no doubt that personality tests can be helpful in the hiring process. After all, these tests give employers a better understanding of a candidate’s personality, strengths, and weaknesses.
As a result, personality tests can help employers make more informed decisions about potential long-term employees for the business.
As employers, when evaluating whether a personality test can successfully screen candidates during the hiring process, there’s a lot to consider. Those factors include the types of tests, the benefits, the drawbacks, and how to use them properly.
To help you make a decision, we’ll explore some of the key reasons employers choose or choose not to use personality tests and some of the most common types on the market.
What are personality tests and why do employers use them?
Personality tests are a way of assessing an individual’s character or personality. They usually involve answering a series of questions that provide quantifiable values to different traits, such as introversion/extraversion, agreeableness, patience, and conscientiousness.
In a world where high-quality teamwork, customer support, and the ability to handle difficult situations are required, employers are looking for any edge to help them source and find the best candidates. When incorporated correctly, personality tests can give employers insight into whether a candidate has the required personality traits for a particular role.
Why use personality tests for hiring employees?
There are several reasons why employers might choose to use personality tests as part of their hiring process, including:
To evaluate cultural fit
Cultural fit is becoming increasingly important to employers, as studies have shown that employees who are a good fit for the company culture are more likely to stay with the company longer.
To assess soft skills
Soft skills are difficult to assess through a resume or cover letter, but they are essential for many roles. Personality tests can help employers identify candidates who have the soft skills they are looking for, such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills.
To avoid unconscious bias
By using personality tests, employers can avoid hiring based on unconscious bias. Unconscious bias happens when you form an opinion about candidates based solely on first impressions, not on the merit of their qualifications.
To improve development and training processes
By quickly identifying whether a candidate is a good fit for the company culture or the role they are applying for, employers can save time and money on training and development in the long run.
What are the common types of personality tests?
There are a variety of personality tests on the market, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Here are some of the most common types of personality tests:
The Big Five personality test
The Big Five personality test is one of the most popular and uses a 5-factor acronym, OCEAN, to evaluate an employee. The acronym stands for openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
The Hogan Personality Inventory
The Hogan Personality Inventory is a widely used personality test that assesses an individual’s day-to-day personality and how they relate to others in the workplace.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which many Fortune 100 companies use, is a personality test that assesses an individual’s preferences in how they perceive and interact with the world. The test consists of 4 dichotomies:
Favorite world: extraversion vs. introversion
Information: sensing vs. intuition
Decisions: thinking vs. feeling
Structure: judging vs. perceiving
By understanding which personality type a candidate and potential employee is, employers can better understand how they will interact with others and approach work tasks.
The last personality test that we will discuss is DiSC. This acts as a behavior assessment tool to help employers understand an individual’s work style. The test measures 4 different personality traits:
Dominance (D) — measuring an individual’s assertiveness and their need for control
Inducement (I) — assessing an individual’s ability to motivate and persuade others
Submission (S) — looking at an individual’s level of cooperation and their need for approval from others
Compliance (C) — understanding an individual’s level of structure and need for rules and regulations
Understanding the types of personality tests and what they measure is important for employers to know when incorporating them into their hiring process.
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What are the drawbacks of using personality tests?
While there are many potential benefits to using personality tests in the hiring process, there are also some potential drawbacks that employers should be aware of.
Personality tests can be time-consuming
Many personality tests require candidates to complete an online questionnaire that can take 30 minutes or more, which can be unattractive to some candidates. This means that employers may miss out on potential hires if the test takes too long to complete.
Personality tests can be expensive
As personality tests are time-consuming for businesses to administer and require additional investments in software, the cost of recruiting and hiring rises for employers.
Personality tests are not always reliable
Another drawback of a personality test is that candidates may respond based on what they think the employer wants to hear instead of answering honestly.
In addition, a report by the Center for Democracy and Technology details the unintended tendency to screen out disabled candidates. Whether it’s flawed algorithms or the potential for misuse, personality tests can unintentionally lead to discriminatory hiring practices.
Should personality tests pull weight in the workplace?
If used appropriately, personality tests can be a valuable tool for employers to evaluate and place candidates in the proper role. However, it is critical to remember that personality tests should not be the only factor considered when making hiring decisions.
When employers use them in conjunction with other assessment tools, such as interviews, resume reviews, and references, such tests can give employers a glimpse into the personality of a candidate.
When employers use them in conjunction with other assessment tools, such as interviews, resume reviews, and references, such tests can give employers a glimpse into the personality of a candidate. They can also help them make informed hiring decisions.
Understanding where limitations exist and how to combat them is essential. This way, employers can maximize the benefits personality tests can provide in the workplace. Exploring the benefits, drawbacks, and types of tests that exist is vital before adding them to your hiring process.