Employers have used a lot of tools from their arsenal over the years to make hiring or promotion decisions. Some of these tools have been basic and customary while others are less conventional and are unique. In addition, some hiring selection tools have been labeled controversial and/or have been assailed as ineffectual or even implicitly discriminatory. The verdict is out with many as to whether personality tests should be used when making hiring decisions, but analysis and decision will be made in this paper by the author.
Reasons to Use Personality Tests
As anyone who has worked in a job can probably attest to, the personality of the people that one works with does matter and for a litany of reasons. For workers that interact with the public, a cheery demeanor is preferred to one that is sour and uninviting. As it relates to workers interacting with one another, a rotten personality can lead to hurt feelings, less employee retention, and even lawsuits.
The most pressing reason why many firms insist on using personality tests in, general, is to ensure a person-to-job fit. For example, if someone will be interacting with the public, it will typically be insisted upon by a hiring manager that the person has people skills and experience in using them. Another example would be a position that requires a self-starter and someone that can work autonomously. Someone that is inherently needy and/or that requires constant human interaction for any reason would not be a good fit for such a role in the opinion of many.
Another big piece of the puzzle is a calibration in personality type between all members of a team. Most personality types are not inherently evil or wrong but there are personality types that will quickly clash of people in the same general space possess them. For example, someone that is an introvert will probably be driven nuts by someone that is chatty. New hires in a department should align with the pre-existing employees in both personality and demeanor as much as possible.
Reasons to Doubt Personality Tests
Despite the fairly obvious use and advantage of personality tests, the efficacy of these tests has been brought into question and for a few reasons. The overarching complaint about the tests is that they do not possess the necessary reliability and validity that a hiring test should customarily have. Meaning, these personality tests are often considered non-reliable in terms of predicting person-to-team fit and future overall job performance.
However, the potential pitfalls of using personality tests go a bit beyond the obvious. First, people taking personality tests will often know what is socially desirable in terms of responses and will give answers based on the perception of who is reviewing him/her and will not base the answers on what their personality is truly like in reality (Paunonen & LaBel, 2012). To that end, researchers have been working on tests that get around such deception and prevent test-takers from manipulating the system (Jinyan et al, 2012).
The author of this paper wholeheartedly agrees that personality tests should be used because ensuring person-to-job ob/team fit is essential to maintain the continuity of the team (Fink, 2006). Much of the research articles on the subject, despite the concerns about fake responses and lies, concur with this opinion. In fact, some argue that personality reviewing and refining should be an ongoing process that helps shape future leaders and managers (Walsh, 2012). The desired personality profile of the hire should be crafted and decided upon before the hiring process even begins (Greenberg, 2008).
The primary reason the author agrees with the use of personality tests is that the personality of a person has such a dramatic effect on so many parts of a job and the people surrounding the hire. The new hire must get along well with his/her colleagues. The hire’s social skills and talents must be a match for a job as well.
Bringing on a hire that has a personality that is misaligned with the rest of the employees can have devastating effects. People that are self-centered or that spend too much time on non-essential tasks to the detriment of things that are required are noareing that any reputable firm should want anything to do with. The people in a department or a firm at large need to have a strong synergy and a commitment to a common goal and way of doing things. As noted elsewhere in this report, firms and people sometimes have very different ways of doing things and that’s not inherently a bad thing, but teams of people need to be in sync in terms of strategy, attitude and overall path.
People exist, although they are thankfully sparse, that are truly sociopathic and/or incendiary in nature. These people prey on others and are often very sly about doing so. These are people that watch out only for themselves and are not all that concerned about anything but themselves. Such people are cancerous and should be excised from a firm immediately when they are found out.
Companies should undertake any realistic and effective means to weed out undesirable potential hires and instead hire people that will truly be assets to the company (Lanphear, 2003). A careless hire can wreak havoc on a company’s performance and morale so it behooves hiring managers and human resources personnel to be diligent and careful and to use all the tools available. The tools used should include reputable and reliable personality tests that accurately predict whether a person is a good fit for a job and a team.
Fink, S. (2006). Getting personal: 10 reasons to test personality before hiring. Training, 43(11), 16.
Greenberg, H. (2008). Looking to hire a top performer? develop a personality profile. National Underwriter, 112(40), 16.
Jinyan, F., Dingguo, G., Carroll, S. A., Lopez, F. J., Tian, T., & Hui, M. (2012). Testing the efficacy of a new procedure for reducing faking on personality tests within selection contexts. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(4), 866-880.
Lanphear, S. (2003). When hiring, personality matters. Credit Union Executive Newsletter, 29(29), 1.
Paunonen, S. V., & LeBel, E. P. (2012). Socially desirable responding & its elusive effects on the validity of personality tests. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 103(1), 158-175.
Walsh, T. (2012). Personality testing: After the hire. Business Journal (Central New York), 26(12), 6.