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What is Personality Testing in the Workplace?

First, a definition: What exactly is a personality test?

A personality test is a questionnaire designed to reveal aspects of a person’s character and/or psychological makeup. The first personality tests were developed in the 1920’s and were used to improve the efficiency of armed forces recruiting in the US. Today, personality tests are used in a wide variety of contexts including career counselling, employment testing, OH&S, and customer-facing roles to test for interaction management.

There are a multitude of personality tests on the market today. As a brand-agnostic provider of testing solutions, our own suite of products comprises over 2,000 scientifically selected assessments – with many assessing a candidate’s personality

Second, why use personality tests?

In short, we use personality tests in recruitment to improve candidate accuracy, ensure cultural alignment, and increase employee retainment. When used skillfully within the context of a recruitment campaign, personality testing can improve outcomes by providing a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s behavioural preferences.

At this point it’s important to understand that there are no ‘correct’ answers to a personality test. Everyone is different. Some of us enjoy working independently, while others may work better in teams. Some of us love thinking creatively and exploring new ideas, while others might enjoy organising the implementation of ideas and plans. No one single preference is better than another, and a diversity of working styles is desirable in all teams and across organisations.

Some critical things to note about personality testing…

Past behaviour is often the best predictor of future behaviour.

Personality tends to be quite stable across an individual’s lifespan; therefore asking questions about past behaviour is generally a robust predictor of how a person will behave in the future.

There are no right or wrong answers in a personality test.

Unlike verbal or numerical tests, personality tests have no ‘correct response’. It is about understanding the candidate’s behaviour in certain situations, and determining how that will complement the role and the team they may potentially be joining.

Personality test are not timed.

The time factor is not relevant in personality testing. We don’t care how quickly the candidate completes the test, as this does not make their response any more or less accurate. We want them to take enough time to reflect on their behaviour, and choose the most representative responses.

The test format is always self-report.

In the context of recruitment, personality tests are always self-reported by the candidate. If the candidate happens to disagree with the test’s accuracy, it is always a good idea to ask them to explain how and why, since they reported those behaviours in the first place. Self-report testing always relies on the candidate having high levels of self-awareness.

No decisions are made on personality data alone.

In a best-practice selection model, personality data is used in conjunction with many other data points (e.g. resume, application, cognitive testing), and is used to inform the interview process, rather than to make a final decision on hiring the candidate.

Faking a personality test is rare.

Our clients often worry about impression-management from candidates, but research shows that only about 1 out of 7 candidates attempt to ‘fake’ their responses. Oddly enough, research suggests that personality test-fakers are actually more socially insightful and even perform better on certain tasks relating to judgement.

Contact us today to ask us about our customised, organisation-specific personality testing solutions.