Finding right personality test crucial to hiring success

by Caitlin Nobes29 May 2012

A good personality test can help separate the wheat from the chaff, but using the wrong test or applying the test inconsistently won’t get you results.

The first thing an employer needs to ask when choosing a personality test is the factors that will determine success in a role. It’s easy to just assume any well-known test will reveal important characteristics. However, some jobs might require workers to collaborate, while others would need them to be able to work independently.

Finding the test that measures the right trait will ensure you have the most relevant information to work with. If you’re measuring interpersonal skills for a position that will have little professional interaction, it might be interesting, but it’s certainly not vital.

Once you know what you need to measure, it’s time to find the right test. “The worst mistake an organisation can make is to simply assume a particular test is reliable and valid for its selection purposes. It’s critical to remember personality tests are not created equal,” Henryk Krajewski from Anderson Group of Leadership Advisors and Researchers said.

According to Krajewski there are three key areas to consider: reliability, which measures how consistent test scores are; validity, which shows whether the test measures the right variable and is a predictor for behaviour or results; and resistance to faking results. Krajewski suggests after selecting a reliable and valid test that the HR professional “test drive” the assessment. This is about how long it takes to complete and whether it’s clear to the test-taker what the connection is between the questions and the job.

Some common personality tests:

  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. This 16-type indicator test is based on Carl Jung's Psychological Types,
  • The 16PF Questionnaire (16PF) was developed by Raymond Cattell and colleagues in the 1940s and 1950s in a search to try to discover the basic traits of human personality using scientific methodology. The test was first published in 1949, and is now in its 5th edition.
  • The Newcastle Personality Assessor (NPA), created by Daniel Nettle, is a short questionnaire designed to quantify personality on five dimensions: Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientious, Agreeableness, and Openness. Many personality tests have been based on these ‘Big Five’ traits
  • The DISC assessment identifies four personality types: Dominance; Influence; Steadiness and Conscientiousness. It is used widely in corporates.
  • The Belbin Team Inventory is classed as a ‘personality test’, although its inventor, Meredith Belbin, argues that it’s not designed to assess personality. Instead, it measures preference for one (or more) out of nine team roles: Plant, Resource Investigator, Co-ordinator, Shaper, Monitor Evaluator, Teamworker, Implementer, Completer Finisher, and/or Specialist.


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