What Personality Tests Reveal About Job Candidates

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Recruiters, employment agencies and HR departments are split over whether or not it’s beneficial to use a personality test to evaluate job candidates. Pre-employment personality testing is designed to evaluate character traits and temperament to find new hires that will be an exact fit for teams and departments. It seems like a solid hiring practice, since when a person’s temperament and interests are suited to a position, he or she stays more engaged.

But what do personality tests really reveal? Are they accurate, and should you be incorporating them in your interview process? What’s the best way to remove the guesswork and hire the right fit for your organization?

Most Important Thing to Know About Personality Testing

Personality testing for work has been around for a long time. Experts continue to publish new research and new test variations regularly appear. What doesn’t seem to change is the data indicating personality testing alone gives some insight, but isn’t enough to evaluate fit.

Researcher Frank Schmidt conducted a meta-analysis of productivity data and selection practices over the past 100 years to identify the correlation between test scores and predicted job performance. His research showed when employers base hiring just on an interview, reference checks and a personality test, often that wasn’t enough to make accurate predictions about job performance.

Personality tests are one hiring tool, but they don’t offer a complete picture. Plus, there are thousands of personality test variations to choose from, and they’re not all created equal. Schmidt found personality testing works best when you choose a test designed for evaluating job candidates and combine it with other types of testing.

Candidates Can Manipulate Data

Do a quick search that includes personality testing for work and you’ll find first page results with tips on how to pass, fake or beat the evaluation in order to get the job. With a little bit of research and practice, candidates can sometimes skew answers so the data shows they’re a better fit than they really are.

It’s not that most candidates are deceptive, they just already have a sense of what employers want to hear. Taking a test alone causes anxiety. If they “pass,” they have a shot at the position. If they “fail,” their hope of a job with your company goes out the window.

Some Personality Tests Aren’t For Hiring

The popular Four Quadrant or 4-Q personality test has been around in some variation since 450 BC. In all that time, it hasn’t changed that much. Today’s candidates choose words from a list that are most and least like their preferences.

Potential candidates who want to make a good impression simply choose the words they think best align with the job description. Plus, 4-Q tests tend to measure “states” or emotions and feelings. Those are subject to change.

Another well-known personality test for work is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a questionnaire employees complete to reveal how they make choices and interact with others. It offers insight into the type of work candidates like to do, but doesn’t evaluate how proficient they are at anything. Since the answers are open-ended, candidates can reply based on what they think the test administrator wants to hear.

Both types of tests can be useful after hiring to better understand employees and build stronger teams. Employers might use them to better understand communication habits, to plan future staff development or to measure traits important to customer satisfaction. They just aren’t a reliable indicator of whether or not employees are a good fit.

Choosing the Best Personality Assessments

The best personality tests on the market measure traits, not emotions. They include control questions or a lie-detector scale that tips off the administrator candidates might be trying to work the system. Strong personality assessments for hiring allow you to compare scores across candidates and traits. Test vendors can provide data to prove their test is bias-free, in compliance with local and federal guidelines and that it’s reliable and accurate.

Hiring the Right Fit Every Time

Hiring is time-consuming and expensive. Hiring the wrong person is even more so. When you work with Brelsford Personnel, we put decades of hiring expertise to work for you. We match candidate personality and skills with employer requirements and culture for a good fit. Let us know your staffing needs when you get in touch today.

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