Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do Personality Tests Really Determine If You're a Good Fit For a Job?

From what I've seen more companies are having applicants take personality tests. The question as always still lingers however, do these tests actually help figure out whether a person is a good fit for a job?

According to a 2011 survey completed by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), nearly 20% of employers use personality tests to help with hiring.

The tests are designed to measure attitudes, emotional adjustment, interests and interpersonal skills. For example, they might include questions about whether an applicant likes parties and social events or dislikes being told what to do.

Some critics say personality assessments disqualify candidates for the wrong reasons. Others raise the question, is the test being used by the hiring company the right test. For example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is not meant to be used in selection situations. The technical manual even goes so far as to say this and it is generally used for team-building.

There are multiple factors that can impact a person’s performance and a hiring company needs multiple steps in the hiring process to make an informed decision, keeping in mind there are no sure bets. The selection process is an attempt at identifying the best candidate to the best of the hiring teams’ ability given the information they have at hand at that moment. 

The typical process could include: resume; application; interviews (minimum three, including initial phone interview); employment and credential verification; background check if required; reference check (minimum two); income verification; assessment tool; team meeting.

I’m all for the use of assessment tools if they are used to help identify areas to focus on during the actual interview.  I admit, however, that I’m not a big fan of the all or nothing process used by some companies with the assessments. Testing can be a tool used to ask more informed questions that help you dig deeper. I believe that testing should be a guide and not a fixed label.

There seems to be a trend where these assessments are being used to rule people out without even an interview verse using them as a tool. What are your experiences?


  1. Interesting article. My last position used the personality test at the agency. I thought the test was a good measure of personalities.

  2. Until the job market turns more toward a buyers (job seeker) market people looking for work will put up with such tests and hoops of fire. To me it will rule out some companies as will the keyword tools in the application process. If neither or these are easy to navigate or user friendly then it makes me wonder if the company has other systems that are just as bad and do I want to work there.