Should You Give Candidates a Personality Test?

January 10, 2013

These helpful hints will walk you through how to avoid wasting time and resources by effectively utilizing personality tests in your hiring process.

Should you give candidates a personality test?Whether you call it a personality test, a behavioral assessment, or a predictive test, you’re assessing the same thing — does this candidate have what it takes to work for your company?
Remember, you aren’t really assessing the individual’s personality, but rather whether they fit a standard you have set for your organization.
Every company’s needs are different, so be sure you have an understanding of what results you are looking for prior to administering personality tests. Here are some helpful guidelines.

Not all personality tests are created equal

In order to get any real value from a personality test, you first have to make sure you are giving a test that will deliver information you need.
Some tests are marketed to companies, but weren’t created for them. As you’re shopping around, do your due diligence and ask to take each test, personally. For one thing, this will ensure you avoid a test that addresses the test-taker’s sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or any other subject that could be perceived as discrimination (yes, believe it or not, there are personality tests that actually address those items).

Can you measure the results?

Prior to doling out the test, make sure you understand how to read the results. Some tests like, PI Worldwide’s version of the Predictive Index testing offer their customers training in how to read and interpret the test.

Don’t rely on personality testing alone

In Kay McFadden’s article, 7 Tips for Using Personality Tests to Hire for,she addresses this particular issue by quoting Annette McLaughlin, the VP of Talent, Coaching and Outplacement for Response Co.

My perspective of bringing people on board is that there are multiple factors that can impact your performance and you need multiple steps in the hiring process to make an informed decision.

McLaughlin goes on to talk about how applicants should be brought through a series of steps in the recruiting process, with the personality test in the middle of the process. The test is intended to be a piece of the recruiting puzzle, not the answer.
A personality test should be an equalizer in the hiring process, the same way the SAT was utilized to differentiate applicants to universities around the county. While the test does not tell you everything you need to know about the candidate’s work style, it is helpful in obtaining information that may otherwise not be brought up in a conversation.
Think of a personality test as a supplement to your recruiting process, and utilize it as such.

Do you have any experiences utilizing personality tests you can share? Which ones have worked (or haven’t worked) for you?


Senior Corporate Recruiter

<strong>Lindsey Gurian</strong> is the Senior Corporate Recruiter at <a href="">Acquia</a>. She was previously a Senior Talent Specialist at Sonian, responsible for recruiting initiatives at both the firm and its portfolio companies.