What You Need to Know Before Using Personality Tests When Hiring

By Candace Nicholson

Every company is afraid of making the wrong hiring decision after a long exhaustive search for the right candidate. For small business owners, a bad hiring decision can be even more costly and disruptive than for their larger rivals. That is why companies are increasingly turning to personality tests to help them determine the right fit for their team. But how can you effectively use personality tests to gauge whether a candidate is truly suited for your business?

Not All Tests Are Made Equal

There are a variety of personality tests a business can choose from to help them in the hiring process, yet not all types of tests will give you the feedback you’re looking for. For example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test is incredibly popular, but it’s better used to determine how to motivate and train your team members instead of how to pick the best new hire for your business.

Some companies are forgoing the use of personality tests and opting for the more congenial behavioral assessment instead. What’s the difference? Assessments like those created by the Birkman Method, Hire Success, and the Predictive Index bill themselves as psychological evaluations that give employers a chance to see the stress and motivational habits of potential candidates without fear of discriminating against those who may not fit a mainstream ideal of “normal.” When looking to expand your team, the right candidate is the person who complements your business needs, so the mainstream ideal may not be what’s best for business.

Even Expertly Designed Tests Aren’t Foolproof

It’s important to remember that not all candidates will test well no matter the quality of the test’s design. Personality tests can help you see how a prospective employee might handle an IT emergency or a deadline dilemma pitting time against excellence, but it’s rarely a useful tool in determining a person’s ethics. Why? Because many candidates will simply respond with what they think the company wants to hear.

The reality is most potential hirees want to put their best foot forward. Just as a small business wants to present itself as the most dynamic leader in its industry, candidates know not to air any personality traits that may shine a questionable light on their character. This may often include details that could be a deciding factor in whether or not a prospective hire is a good fit for your team. Keep in mind that like a polygraph, some personality tests can be manipulated, resulting in information that ultimately doesn’t help your hiring decision at all.

Only You Can Know Who Is Best For Your Team

Researching assessment tests that can best serve your business may seem like an arduous task, especially for a method that isn’t foolproof. Yet personality tests aren’t designed to be a magic oracle telling you if a potential hire is perfect for the job. Their goal is to help you review the potential of a prospective employee and use that information, along with the candidate’s resume, interview(s), references and background check to determine if they’re the right hire.

The information you gather from a personality test shouldn’t be viewed as a pass/fail. When treated as a small piece to a larger human puzzle, the assessment profile allows you to see the potential hiree as a whole package instead of just as an SEO-rich resume and interview. You are the best judge for what your company needs, not the personality test. And once you’ve collected all of the details, you’ll be ready to make an informed decision that you can trust.

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Candace Nicholson
Candace Nicholson is the voice behind Incandescere, a content creation studio dedicated to artists, charities and entrepreneurs. When she's not pitching magazines, editing creative genius or penning blog posts, she's a regular contributor to LAFRA's Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen's Fund.

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