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Be open to the idea of personality tests - they can work

By Emilly Parris

Hiring the right people is an important consideration for any business, no matter how large or small. Many hiring managers have found that building a top-performing team is much easier with the use of tools such as personality tests. Most organisations do at least some form of personality assessment prior to hiring a new employee to ensure they are the right fit for the role and the business as a whole. This could be done through a series of interview questions, or through the delivery of a psychometric test.

Psychometric tests are standard tests that measure an individual’s capabilities, personality and behaviour. These tests are designed to predict how a candidate will approach tasks and how they work with other people. It can shed light on how someone will work under pressure, how they interact with others and how they will fit within the existing team. The main goal of these tests is to build a high-performing team and reduce employee turnover.

Recently, these types of tests have come under scrutiny, despite the fact that 62% of HR professionals use them to vet candidates. Critics of these types of personality tests say that they cannot always successfully predict how someone might behave in a given situation, and that some answers can be easily falsified.

However, proper use of these tests has shown that they can be great for both managers and employees. Personality tests can be an effective tool to help hiring managers evaluate candidates. They can not only help determine if the candidate will fit the position, but if they will be happy in their role and successful long-term. Used correctly and in conjunction with other evaluation methodologies, personality tests can be very helpful at any stage of the employee onboarding process.

Why is personality important?

hiring concept

Every workplace is a mix of varying personalities, which can be a good and a bad thing. Certain personalities don’t always work well together and this can cause conflict and reduce productivity. Personalities matter at work because they can indicate cultural fit, improve team output and utilise the strengths of each team member and what they offer

Personality can also play an important role in a person’s job satisfaction, which is great for employee retention. Personality tests can reduce the risk of hiring the wrong person in the wrong role, which is why they are still favoured by many human resources professionals.

Evaluating personality

The two most common personality or psychometric tests are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Big Five personality traits. 

These tests have been developed through many years of academic research and statistical analysis. Scientists have tested groups of people and identified some key similarities between personality traits and behaviours. The questions are formulated based upon these observations. The goal of knowing about personality types is to understand and appreciate the differences between people. Since all types are equal, there is no best or preferred type.

How can personality tests be helpful?

  1. They can encourage self-awareness.
  2. They can help create diverse and dynamic teams.
  3. They can be used as a management tool.

1. They can encourage self-awareness.

Self-awareness is key to personal and professional development. Understanding your team’s unique perspective and helping them understand their strengths as well as their limitations can help them grow confidence in their role.

2. They can help create diverse and dynamic teams.

diverse team in a meeting

Personality tests can also serve as a reminder that not everyone sees the world the same way. They may be able to show us how there are multiple ways of looking at something and offering new solutions to complex problems. Diverse teams with complementary personalities are stronger and more effective in the long-term.

3. They can be used as a management tool.

There is no one-size fits all management technique, therefore understanding others’ personalities can allow managers to effectively manage their teams and reduce the incidence of miscommunication.

It goes without saying that humans are complex and multi-dimensional, and although significant similarities can be drawn between one person and another, not all behaviours can be predicted with great accuracy.

These labels can help us understand each other and help uncover strategies to work more effectively together, but they should not be used against an individual. For example, just because someone scores higher in introversion, this does not disqualify them from being a manager or leading a team. Mistaking introversion for lack of confidence or “people skills” is not only wrong, but detrimental to those who have both the desire and knowledge to lead their teams effectively.

Personality tests can provide insight into how your employees make decisions, how they manage their time and what motivates them to succeed. Understanding the role of personality in the workplace is crucial for the future of your business. Knowing how your employees are likely to behave in certain situations allows you to place them in positions where they are primed to succeed.
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