What do Personality Tests Really Deliver?

By | February 12, 2020

Citi Group, Stock Holding Corporation, ExxonMobil, Ford Motor, Hewlett Packard.

Everyone knows these names. And most of us would say that it could be great to work for these companies.

But not everyone knows that these companies widely employ personality assessments and psychometric testing to select their employees.

Personality Testing as a Part of Recruitment

There are a few reasons why companies worldwide use personality tests to aid the recruitment process:

  • Personality testing wins over human bias. Giving preferences to certain candidates is not an unusual situation during the recruitment process. However, this bias can get in the way of hiring worthy candidates. Personality testing eliminates this human bias and brings forward raw facts.
  • It structures your HR strategy. Moreover, it speeds up the recruitment process and eliminates the possibility of bad hires, which can cost your business £8,200 on average. Making personality testing a step in the recruitment process will not only deliver measurable results but will also help you sort your applicants.
  • You present yourself as a positive brand. Using personality tests in your recruitment process presents you as a business that is fair to the job applicants, avoids nepotism, and knows what kind of candidates it needs.

Including personality tests is also an effective tip for new businesses to hire a team of specialists who will do their best to represent your company and will help you avoid high turnover, which can bring unnecessary expenses.

There are a lot of benefits that personality tests deliver to the recruiters.

But should you trust personality tests completely?

The Doubt Around Personality Tests

Last year, The New York Times published an article claiming that personality tests are the astrology of the office.

In other words, the article calls personality tests hardly credible, just like the daily horoscopes we read in a tabloid that we pick up on our way to work.

What supports their claims?

The article discusses certain personality tests used by employers worldwide – Meyers-Briggs, in particular.

Some organizational psychologists say that one person can test for different types of personalities according to the Meyers-Briggs personality tests. Dr. Grant, a professor of organizational psychology from Penn, who gave the interview to The New York Times, himself tested as an INTJ and ESFP.

Meyers-Briggs, however, is known for the faulty approach of ‘delivering all the results in one package’, which is not always possible. Oftentimes, to fully assess the personality, you need a comprehensive approach, which Meyers-Briggs doesn’t have.

In other words, personality tests do deliver viable results, but only in case if you use them systematically, making different tests complement each other in the process of assessment.

In this case, the personality tests will deliver a variety of benefits, especially for the recruitment process. Here are some of them.

1. General Insights About Personality

Personality tests do help you gain useful insights about a personality and see if a certain candidate is a good match for you.

However, the main idea, which you should understand, is you cannot expect a person to turn out to be the exact match, if you’re using a single personality test, like Meyers-Briggs.

Consider this.

You’re looking for a person with a certain number of personal traits. Let’s say your perfect employee should be a team player, communicable, easy-going, and devoted.

One personality test can help you identify that a certain person possesses these characteristics and fits your profile.

What you’re forgetting, however, is that a personality test will not convey all the personality traits. If you want a fuller picture of a personality, a series of tests need to be put to action. 

This fact has also been proven by research.

The five-factor model of personality is a famous personality test, which companies employ to determine individual differences in personality.

However, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that this test tends to overgeneralize the results. The assessment of an average congruence coefficient also showed insufficient credibility of the results, as it reached only 0.62 when the usual benchmark was 0.90. As a result, additional tests were needed to do a full personality assessment.

What does it tell us?

This means that one test can hardly paint the full picture.

While personality tests can deliver general insights, you will need to perform several types of tests for more well-rounded results.

2. Test Questions Can Be Customized to Help Convey Your Reality

It is true that general personality tests convey the reality only partly, and it doesn’t often coincide with your outlook.

This is the case with the MMPI test.

MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) is a well-known personality test that assesses personality traits and signs of psychopathology. “This test often aids the recruitment process, but only a qualified psychologist can analyze the results,” says Maria Federson, an HR specialist at Studicus and SupremeDissertations.

This test went under fire when some of the questions were found to be offensive and didn’t represent the reality correctly.

According to the study by the University of Claremont, MMPI contained questions that often didn’t take into consideration the racial and ethnic peculiarities of the participants who were taking this test.

That’s why researchers created the MMPI-2 test, which had a better predictive validity to identify personality traits.

The Meyers-Briggs was criticized for the same issue, with many participants claiming that they couldn’t relate to the ideas behind the questions asked.

So, how should you deal with it?

Work on adjusting the questions and make them fit your company’s profile. Work together with a person who has a degree in Psychology to help you with personality test questions.

Also, don’t forget to proofread the questions to make sure that they are respectful and mistake-free. Online tools like TrustMyPaper, GrabMyEssay and Grammarly will help you with that.

You can also pass the test yourself or have some of your employees do it for you and give you their feedback on how well the questions represent the reality and whether they are relatable.

3. You Can Target Worthy Applicants

Some personality tests may alienate the applicants that truly deserve a job.

We already mentioned that some Meyers-Briggs test participants complained that this test undesirably stripped them of leadership opportunities and job opportunities that they fitted perfectly.

This was the reason why so many researchers started doubting the effectiveness of this personality test.

According to the research by the Atlantic, referencing the report by the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found the Meyers-Briggs personality test unreliable because of its discriminatory nature.

So, personality tests, like Meyers-Briggs, aren’t an option if you want to target worthy participants. On the contrary, they can eliminate the ones that can, in fact, do the job.

What you’re looking for is a comprehensive set of tests, which you can customize to your needs in order to target the applicants that fit the job criteria according to their professional skills and personality traits.

So, What Do Personality Tests Deliver?

Let’s sum up.

Personality tests are an inalienable part of the recruitment process.

However, some personality tests often deliver general results that don’t necessarily help you see the full picture. Nevertheless, if used comprehensively, they can be of great help for a recruiter to learn more about an applicant.

Don’t trust personality tests blindly. Some of them contain questions that don’t fully represent the reality that your applicants can relate to. Pass these tests yourself and customize the questions first before you offer them to your applicants.

So, don’t disregard personality tests and their results completely. They do bring some great benefits that can help you speed up the recruitment process and select the candidates that match your company’s profile.

AUTHOR BIO Nicole D.Garrison is a content strategist, writer, and contributor at BestEssayEducation and WoWGrade and a number of platforms for marketing specialists. She is a dedicated and experienced author who pays particular attention to quality research. At her free time, Nicole is a passionate runner and a curious beekeeper. Moreover, she runs her own blog LiveInspiredMagazine.