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Dos and don'ts of pre-employment personality tests

It helps in assessing behavioural traits, determining interests and assists recruiters in filtering candidates whose personalities and attitudes do not meet requirements. [iStockphoto]

A pre-employment personality test is given to job applicants to identify relevant personality traits required for a particular job or role.

It helps in assessing behavioural traits, determining interests and assists recruiters in filtering candidates whose personalities and attitudes do not meet requirements.

Like any tool, however, pre-employment personality tests are only effective if used properly. Here are some helpful dos and don’ts: 

Don’t: Test candidates only on personality.

Do: Use personality tests in combination with other tests. According to the US Department of Labor’s Testing and Assessment guide, personality tests are best used as part of a complete skills assessment.

Don’t: Use personality tests to pass or fail candidates. As mentioned earlier, a personality test should be used as a part of an assessment with multiple other tests in order to effectively select the best candidates.

Do: Use personality test results to better know a candidate. Prepare talking points in advance for the job interview. For example, someone may assess themselves as impatient, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically wrong for the job. Their impatience may result in quicker, data-driven decisions.

Don’t: Use personality tests to hire for a specific personality type - this can result in hiring bias. Diverse teams perform better, so make sure you're not negatively affecting your team by misusing personality tests.

Do: Use personality tests to thoughtfully consider team dynamics. For example, in certain scenarios, a mix of personalities may foster innovation. To avoid bias in your testing, you should regularly check if your tests are systematically favouring a particular gender, race, or ethnic background over others.

Don’t: Use different personality tests without a good reason. By using the same personality test throughout the company, you create a common language which will allow you to point out certain behaviours in a neutral, constructive way. If everyone has done a different personality test, you lose that benefit.