So why turn to personality tests? In recent years, IQ (intelligence quotient) tests have been seen as limited in their measurement of emotional qualities in a person, which we all know is important in the workplace. In 1990, an additional intelligence: emotional intelligence (EQ) was proposed by Peter Salovey and John Mayer. This covers a wide range of personalities and reactions to certain situations, however the four main elements stated in the study comprise of:
- People need to be able to accurately perceive emotions in themselves and others and have the ability to express their own emotions effectively.
- People need to be aware of how their emotions shape their thinking, decisions, and coping mechanisms.
- People need to be able to understand and analyse their emotions, which may often be complex and contradictory.
- People need to be able to regulate their emotions so that they can dampen negative emotions and make effective use of positive emotions.
Employees with high EQs are more likely to stay calm under pressure, empathetic towards their team members, can admit and learn from their faults, lead by example, understand how to settle conflict efficiently, receive criticism well and show grace under pressure.
There are many personality tests for companies to choose from, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Hogan Assessment plus many more, all of which use very different and in depth approaches to assessing a candidate’s personality.
Whilst personality tests may bring something more to the interview and let employers find out something extra about the interviewee than the age old “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” it’s important for business owners to remember not to use personality tests as the only instrument for selection. Personality tests typically measure five personality dimensions in an applicant: extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience, however body language, tone of voice, previous experience and future goals should all be taken into account throughout the application process and interview.
With this in mind, I have listed the pros and cons to using a personality test when hiring potential new employees.
- If taken before an interview, personality tests help in narrowing the selection of candidates, as it gives an insight into the characters of all applicants and helps employer’s decide which respondents should be invited for an interview.
- The test can also aid in helping managers decide which questions they should ask the candidate when they do come for an interview.
- With only having a limited amount of time in an interview, candidate skills and abilities can often be overlooked on a CV or face-to-face, however a personality test offers a deeper insight into how they might fit into a company work culture.
- There is often a lower turnover of staff within a company if applicants have traits similar to the rest of the workforce.
- Personality tests usually detect interpersonal characteristics that may be required for some jobs.
- Some personality assessments can take a lot of time and effort to complete, which may dissuade a potential candidate from going further with the application process.
- An applicant’s experience and training may conflict with the results of the test, and therefore make it more difficult for a manager to decide how to proceed.
- More often than not, applicants answer personality tests based on pleasing the interviewer or by what is socially acceptable, which discredits the test.
- There could be a lack of diversity in the workforce if all employees have the same traits.
- Personality tests can be expensive, from paying for the tests to paying someone to score the tests. This needs to be weighed against the likelihood that the right candidate will be offered the job.
- Even if an applicant answers the personality test perfectly, this does not mean that they are the right fit for the job and will carry through with the same efficiency if they are offered a role within the company. This point highlights again just how important it is to not solely use a personality test to hire employees.
Whether a company decides to enter into the hiring process through using a personality test or not, the advantages and disadvantages need to be considered based on what is right for the business. Some industries and specific roles may benefit more from using this type of test, however as mentioned in the cons, it can also deter an applicant from applying for the role. As previously stated, the most important factor is that the test is not used as a stand-alone method in hiring as this could be more detrimental to business in the long run.
The contents of this article are necessarily expressed in broad terms and limited to general information rather than detailed analyses or legal advice. Specialist professional advice should always be obtained to address legal and other issues arising in specific contexts.