Can Personality Tests Provide Added Insight When Hiring?
Personality tests provide important insight on potential candidates, but can also contribute to bias in the hiring process.
Most occupations require specific skills and dispositions. Screening for these particular qualities in the hiring process has been characterized both as a helpful tool to aid in hiring the right person for the right job and potentially a limitation that may lead employers to miss assets or other skill sets the individual under consideration could contribute.
Personality tests are a popular way to assess if individuals are in the position best suited to their skills and to ensure they can fulfill the expectations of their job. While personality tests can assist in providing insight in the hiring process to have the best people in positions reflecting their strengths, there is also a potential for bias.
Pros To Using Personality Testing In The Hiring Process
Personality tests provide important insights into potential employees’ nature, allowing employers to gain a deeper comprehension of the interviewee. The data gathered from a personality test can work to ensure that people are in the right positions for their natural disposition.
A good fit in the workplace helps to reduce staff turnover and anticipating a good fit saves the company the cost of replacing employees. [Learn more in 7 Good Reasons To Conduct Employee Background Checks]. Research has demonstrated that employees in positions that are misaligned with their personality have lower employee engagement, leading to a 21% decrease in productivity and a turnover percentage of 45%.
Additionally, personality tests can be a clear indication for both the interviewer and interviewee demonstrating if the candidate would be a suitable addition to the culture of the organization. This aids in anticipating the orientation needs of the potential candidate.
Cons To Using Personality Testing In The Hiring Process
Personality tests, despite providing valuable information, also boast significant shortcomings.
First, employers can potentially overlook qualified candidates based on what the employer thinks the job requires. This denies the diversity that different personality traits may bring to a position, each with a unique approach to the role. For example, an introvert applying to a position that may be determined to be best suited to an extrovert could bring a much-needed perspective to the team and fill in gaps that would result from having a team of solely extroverts.
There is also the tendency to pigeon-hole people based on only a few traits that may not be relevant to job performance. Using introversion/extraversion as an example, an introvert may be quite proficient in a people-oriented position. The only difference is that an introvert may need to recharge in solitude. Their preferred method of recharging is inconsequential to their job description but could become a barrier to securing their job of choice. [Learn more in What Causes Workplace Stress (And How To Unwind)].
Using Tests Wisely
If an organization chooses to use personality tests in the hiring process, there are important caveats to keep in mind during on-boarding. Employers should first identify the priorities, based on feedback from colleagues and the dynamics of the workplace culture.
Prior to reviewing personality test results, interviewers should focus on the candidate as a fully dimensional human, a complex being who cannot be encapsulated through one personality test. These tests should always be taken with a grain of salt because it can be difficult for interviewees to quantify who they are in such a limited setting, particularly with the added stress of potential rejection.
Interviewees may be answering with what they think the employer wants to hear, so a person’s acceptance into an organization should not rest upon their personality test results. It is also best to review personality test results after meeting the candidate in person. This assists in the dismantling of preconceived notions of personality traits and reduces the potential for bias in the hiring process.
Finally, not all personality tests are created equal. Employers should choose a personality test that has high reliability, with empirical-based research to support its method. Employers should identify non-negotiable skills for the position while remaining open-minded to unique expressions of those skills. Personality tests may be better incorporated through team-building, as they can increase teamwork among staff and can be used to cultivate a productive work environment. Ultimately, personality tests can be a part of the hiring process, but they should not make the final decision.
Should You Use Personality Tests Or Not?
While most jobs necessitate certain proficiencies, integrating personality tests in the hiring process has the potential to limit qualified candidates. Different skill sets could develop the role and create a diverse team environment, rather than contributing to an echo chamber. Additionally, employers may overlook the contribution of certain dispositions in the workplace, particularly from the confines of a personality assessment.
Personality tests should be reserved for after an individual is hired, to ensure their skills and strengths are most appropriately utilized. Incorporating reliable and valid personality tests can optimize workplace dynamics and contribute to a strengths-based culture.
Written by Bethany Zelent | Psychotherapist
Bethany Zelent is a registered psychotherapist and certified yoga instructor, completing her Masters of Counselling with Athabasca University, emphasizing healing from childhood trauma and working through existential issues. Bethany focuses on intentional living, enjoying life's journey and learning to be present in each moment.