Pros & cons of personality testing for employment

Written by brian baer
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Pros & cons of personality testing for employment
Personality tests can reveal much about an employee. (the person with a personal computer image by Hunta from Fotolia.com)

Employers have learnt that a key component to hiring high quality, productive employees is the use of a personality test. Strong education, background and work experience are no longer enough to ensure that an employee will be a good match for a company. Compatibility with a company's culture, management and philosophy is critical for a long-term successful business relationship. Employees that are aligned with a company's mission and culture have better performance. Personality tests are used to determine this compatibility.

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Types of Personality Tests

Personality tests are available in a wide variety of content and forms. The tests themselves are designed to determine intangible (difficult to measure) characteristics including cognitive skills, intelligence quotients, integrity tests and personality traits. Results are used to measure a prospective employee's honesty and any propensities for negative or illegal behaviours. Many questions are posed to address how an employee might perform in specific situations such as conflict, pressure, challenge or ethical decisions. These questions can be designed for specific jobs and tasks.

Pros & cons of personality testing for employment
Personality tests can reveal intangible characteristics about a person. (taking test image by Petro Feketa from Fotolia.com)

Advantages to Employers

Many of the key concepts and intangible metrics of an employee's performance can be viewed objectively with the use of a standardised personality test. Properly administered personality tests can provide managers with an additional comparative measure for use in promotions or job assignments. Nationally recognised and valid personality tests can be used to reduce or eliminate bias or discrimination which could avoid lawsuits for the company. Many companies are now using personality testing to determine the costs of severance packages and employee benefit plans as well as finding ways to avoid potential conflict in the workplace.

Pros & cons of personality testing for employment
Personality tests could point out potential conflict. (workplace b image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com)

Disadvantages to Potential Employees

The key for employers is to administer a personality test that is recognised as valid, reliable and designed from statistical or psychological research and empirical data. The test must be focused on the job's skill sets and not biased with questions concerning gender, age, religious beliefs or ethnicity. Personality tests must also not cross privacy boundaries or address issues that are highly invasive. If these unwritten rules are broken by the employer administering a personality test, the company could be held liable for discrimination.

Pros & cons of personality testing for employment
If not administered properly, companies could be sued. (Girl on her workplace working image by Angel_a from Fotolia.com)

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