Personality tests are an increasingly popular tool for companies to evaluate potential job candidates. These tests allow employers to identify a candidate’s personality traits, tendencies and work styles, which in turn assists them in making smarter hiring decisions. While no single personality test can offer all the candidate information a company may desire, a number of tests have been verified over the years as particularly useful when facing the challenges of hiring a new worker.
Types of Employment Personality Tests
Below are a few of the most commonly used personality tests.
The Caliper Profile
The Caliper Profile was designed by Dr. Herb Greenberg and David Mayer in the late 1950s, reports Fortune magazine. The test, which took four years to create, was originally designed for an anonymous insurance agency in order to help predict the potential of employees to sell its products effectively.
The test itself measures the innate tendencies of candidates based on 23 different personality attributes, the Caliper company explains. Some of these traits include aggressiveness, ego-drive, risk-taking, urgency, leadership ability, assertiveness and time management. Individuals are rated on a 1-99 percentile scale and evaluated by the ranges in which their scores fall. The higher the number, the more likely a candidate is to gravitate toward or engage in a specific behavior. Trait combinations can help predict long-term behavioral patterns. When taking the test, candidates must choose from four adjectives or statements and declare which ones they believe best and least describe them. The test also contains an abstract reasoning segment, which measures an individual’s ability to solve problems. HR professionals can then compare profile results of individuals who will work together to determine commonalities and concerns.
This employee personality test is particularly useful in deciphering what truly drives employees, as it examines both positive and negative qualities together.
Predictive Index (PI) Behavioral Assessment
Arnold S. Daniels created the first PI Behavioral Assessment in 1955, says Nast Partners. Inspired by his partnership in the United States Army Air Corps with a psychologist who studied the makeup of bombing teams, Daniels developed a personality assessment that offered insight into normative workplace behaviors.
The PI is a 12-minute timed test that measures four primary personality constructs (“dominance,” “extraversion,” “patience” and “formality”) and two secondary constructs (“decision making” and “response level”). Together, these constructs provide insight into both the self and self-concept of individual workers. When self and self-concept are compared, they show “synthesis,” or how a person will usually behave in a work environment. This can be useful for discovering the correct job fit for a worker.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
This personality test was first developed in the 1940s by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, in order to make Carl Jung’s “type theory” accessible to the public, the Myers & Briggs Foundation explains. Research on the topic continues today. The goal of the assessment is to identify basic preferences of an individual in order to better understand how people prefer to use their perception and judgment.
Four dichotomies exist in Jung’s theory of psychological type, making a total of 16 personality combinations. The dichotomies are as follows:
- Favorite world. Does an individual prefer to focus on the outer world (“Extroversion”) or his or her own inner world (“Introversion”)?
- Information. Does an individual prefer to focus on basic information (“Sensing”) or prefer to interpret and add meaning (“Intuition”)?
- Decisions. When making decisions, does an individual prefer to first look at logic and consistency (“Thinking”) or first look at the people and special circumstances (“Feeling”)?
- Structure. In dealing with the outside world, does an individual prefer to get things decided (“Judging”) or stay open to new information and options (“Perceiving”)?
It must be noted that although the MBTI test is popular (80 percent of new hires at Fortune 500 companies are given the test, according to Business Insider), the test itself has been more effective at showing innate preferences rather than predicting an individual worker’s success in a job.
The DISC profile is based on the work of Dr. William Moulton Marston. A contemporary of Jung, Marston was a psychologist who studied personality traits, behavioral patterns and instinctual reactions, DISC Insights reports. In 1940, the theories of Marston were developed into the DISC assessment by industrial psychologist Walter Clark. The DISC profile measures various ways that people think, act and interact.
The acronym “DISC” stands for the four primary behavioral traits the test measures: Dominance, Influence, Steadfastness and Conscientiousness. While one trait is usually revealed as dominant, the test also measures how all four interact with one another and influence behavior. The assessment is formatted through answering a series of short multiple choice questions designed to measure natural responses of the test takers. Ultimately, the assessment is used for numerous applications beyond hiring decisions including strengthening communication abilities, diffusing interpersonal conflict, making attainable goals, increasing motivation and cultivating better work habits.
Situational Judgment Test (SJT)
Situational judgment tests (SJTs) are designed to assess how applicants may react in certain work-related situations. Although there is some discussion as to when SJTs were originally created, the Human Resource Management Review reports that the first widely used one containing response options was likely a subtest of the George Washington Social Intelligence Test in the late 1920s. Further versions of the assessment continued throughout World War II to assess the judgment of soldiers. Today, the test is largely used for predicting job performance.
When taking the test, individuals are provided a description of a critical situation or work-related problem and are asked to identify how they would react, explains the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. It measures various dimensions of social functioning such as conflict management, interpersonal skills, problem solving, negotiating ability, teamwork and cultural awareness.
The test itself can be designed in either a linear or interactive format. Linear tests ask the same questions in the same order. Interactive tests are structured in a branched fashion, with later scenarios and response options based on former answers.
While the activities described on the test are mostly representative of the types of scenarios an individual might find in a particular job, the test results only moderately relate to actual employee performance.
Ultimately, businesses that choose to use personality tests for hiring purposes do well when they have a full understanding of the value and limitations of each particular test, and how these factors may help with hiring goals.
Personality Tests and Business Success
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