News

Do Personality Tests Have A Place In Recruitment?

18 May 2021

There is more to a candidate than education and experience; the key to future success is to make the right hiring decisions. In order to do this, companies turn to personality tests to help select the right person for the job.

Personality tests are questionnaires which are designed to reveal aspects of a person’s character. It is thought that as many as 60 percent of workers are asked to complete personality tests as part of the hiring process.

There are different reasons why companies may use these personality tests.  These could be to assess a candidate’s potential for career development, or to assess their personality traits during the interview process thus finding out how they may fit into the team.

However, are the tests really a good indicator of how a candidate would perform in the organization? While some argue that personality tests are helpful, they may not be completely accurate: because results are often publicly shared, employees may offer skewed answers to get a “better” personality type.  Below we consider both sides of the argument.

 The benefits:

  • Personality as a predictor of future job success

Personality is a scientifically-proven predictor of job performance and assessing the candidates’ behavioural tendencies in a work environment allows recruiters to understand whether they will, in fact, be top performers and whether they’ll fit into the culture of the company.

  • A data-driven recruitment leads to better hiring decisions

Personality tests provide you with standardised, useful insights as to how candidates behave in a work context and can help to predict job performance and company fit. By using this data to identify and hire the right candidate for your team you will also improve the overall productivity and effectiveness of your staff.

  • Using personality assessment improves candidate screening at the top of the funnel

After using other types of assessments such as structured interviews with HR and line managers, personality test can add powerful insights to improve the selection process and help inform the recruiters’ decisions.

  • It is possible to assess if a candidate has the ideal personality regarding a wide range of job categories

Research shows that well developed personality tests successfully predict employee performance across the wide range of job categories. What you are looking for in a candidate may vary widely depending on the department or industry you are hiring for and therefore it is important to choose the right personality test for each hire.

However, no matter what the traits you’re more interested in, if you use a normative personality assessment, it’s possible to quickly compare candidates’ scores, which helps not only individually assessing a candidate, but also to compare them with the candidates applying for the same position.

  • Finding the most suitable candidates increases employee quality and retention

As mentioned earlier it is crucial for companies to retain good talent and reduce staff turnover. With personality assessments, you can screen candidates more efficiently for aptitude and personality and assess whether a candidate is likely to stay in the role and fit in with the company culture.

To assess if candidates are fit for a position, there are many factors that can be considered such as passion for learning; overall ambition; ownership and initiative; empathy; communication skills; critical thinking skills; collaboration skills; honesty; motivation; curiosity; etc. Screening for these skills during a standard face-to-face interview can be difficult.

The drawbacks:

  • It may screen out qualified candidates.

For many jobs, there is not a mainstream personality that fits the job type. Personality tests may exclude talented candidates who think outside the box and do not answer the questions in the way they are designed to be answered.

  • It may cause flawed results.

Personality tests do not tell all.  Candidates may respond based on what they think the employer wants rather than on their true personalities; therefore, results are not always accurate.  When you take time to understand someone’s personality during a face-to-face interview, you know how to best manage them, how they communicate, what motivates them and how they may react to change or conflict. A personality test won’t tell you how to interact in a way that helps your team succeed.  The more relaxed the environment is for the candidate, the more likely the individual interviewing will be the same person who shows up to work on day one.

  • The purpose of the test may not fit into your hiring process.

Many of today’s most popular personality tests were not designed to be used in the hiring process. For example, the creators of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator intended it for career development and training, not for hiring. Therefore, using it in the hiring process can lead to skewed results.

  • Tests Are Biased And Decrease Diversity

Personality tests are not a good measure of performance, potential or fit. These have biases no matter how you look at it. Even with a test that tries to eliminate as much bias as possible, the people looking at the tests are biased. Also, it decreases diversity because you are hiring people with the same types of personalities.

  • Time

Personality tests can be time-consuming, and this can lead qualified candidates to pursue opportunities elsewhere or losing interest in the recruitment process.

  • Money

Personality assessments can be expensive to administer for companies, which increases the cost for recruiting and hiring employees.

Conclusions:

This article shows the pros and cons of using personality tests during the recruitment process.  Used in the right situation they can help cement a hiring decision but can also prevent a mistake being made before it’s too late.

In the work we carry out within the IP profession, it has become a rare occurrence that a candidate is asked to complete a personality test. However, in a number of recent assignments, we can see the argument for using them – principally as a useful tool for a line manager to ensure they are recruiting someone who will help balance an existing team or provide some insight into aspects where the candidate will need additional support. At the very least, in talking to candidates who have gone through the process, it opens up interesting discussion topics between the candidate and the interviewer, which may otherwise be difficult to initiate without such an introspective topic.