Pre-Employment Personality Tests: Are They an Effective Tool?

By Laura Dowling, SPHR on Mar 03, 2022
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Recruiting and hiring new employees can often be a lengthy, not to mention expensive, process. The drive to “get it right” and find candidates who will mesh well with your company culture and your overall team is one reason more and more small businesses are turning to personality tests to help them more effectively gauge a job candidate’s suitability.

Beyond using such tests as a tool to facilitate the hiring process, many companies are also using personality tests in a post-employment capacity. That is to say, these tests can be very helpful when it comes to assessing an employee’s development potential.

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The question is, are personality tests right for your business? How might they benefit you in terms of both pre- and post-employment evaluative resources? Let's explore several of the more common personality tests used and ways in which companies are implementing these tests to their advantage.

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What Is the Benefit of Using Personality Tests in the Workplace?

From identifying a person’s key strengths to pinpointing those areas in which they may need further development, personality tests can offer useful insights into someone’s behavior and thought patterns. The key benefits of these tests either prior to hiring someone or during the course of their tenure include:

  • Help in Determining if a Candidate Fits with Your Company

    This is perhaps one of the main reasons why a business will utilize a personality test during the pre-employment screening process. From an overall personality standpoint, how will a candidate do within the context of your company culture and in the role, they are applying for? Keep in mind, certain tests work better than others for this purpose, as we will see when we look at the various tests available.

  • The Potential to Empower Your Employees

    When an employee understands what their strengths are and what areas they excel in, they feel innately empowered. This, in turn, gives them a boost of confidence to approach their job and responsibilities with energy and vigor they may not have previously had.
  •  Serves as a Useful Predictor of Job Performance

    Again, this is one of the reasons that companies will administer this type of test during the screening process. Understanding not only what type of “fit” someone will be personality-wise but also how they might perform the tasks assigned to them can be incredibly valuable. 

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What Are Some of the Dangers of Using Personality Tests in the Workplace?

You do want to be somewhat cautious when it comes to personality tests in the workplace. For example, there could be an inherent bias in various tests of this nature. Ensuring that you adhere to your company’s policies regarding diversity and inclusion is important. This is why utilizing a test that could negatively impact different groups could prove quite problematic. Do your research on the tests available; examine the data and make sure that the test you choose has no such bias.

When looking at different assessments you want to consider the reliability and validity of the test.  Reliability means that if the same person takes the test multiple times with similar conditions, they will get a similar outcome each time.  Validity is the test's ability to measure what it claims to measure.  A valid test ensures that the results are an accurate reflection of the traits being measured.

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Different Types of Personality Tests

There are a number of companies that offer personality tests for the workplace. Which one you use should be based on factors such as whether you’re using the test as a screening tool for potential employees or as a development tool for current employees. Also, think about what specifically you want to evaluate by way of certain personality traits, individual preferences, and/or cognitive reasoning abilities.

  • Predictive Index (PI) Assessments

    Used widely for recruiting and hiring purposes, PI assessments are focused on, as the name suggests, a predictive analysis of a test taker’s cognitive ability within the context of how they might perform on the job. Often, when hiring for a sales role, a firm might use a PI assessment.
  • DiSC Personality Test

    This type of personality test is meant to evaluate an individual’s preferences and dominant personality characteristics. This is often used in a developmental capacity for current employees. The traits the test assesses for include: dominance (are they results-oriented? a leader?), influence (is the individual outgoing and enthusiastic?), steadiness (are they patient and tactful?), and conscientiousness (are they precise and systematic in their approach?).
  • CliftonStrengths Assessment

    The goal of this test is largely to identify areas in which people might build upon their strengths. For example, among the 34 talents/skill themes listed in the test, when identifying someone’s top five talents, the assessment provides you a blueprint for guiding employees toward enhanced development and results in building confidence. The CliftonStrengths Assessment is almost always used for employee development versus hiring new employees.

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Axcet HR Solutions – Here for You

Our consultants are experienced and well-versed when it comes to employee development and performance. We want to help you better understand your employees and consequently, where their strengths lie. if you’d like to discuss any employee situation, we are here for you. Don’t hesitate to contact us!

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Written by Laura Dowling, SPHR

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