Do Personality Assessments Actually Work? How to Use Them Effectively

Mental Health

A man taking notes whilst conducting a personality assessment in an interview

Predicting the future success of a potential employee isn’t easy, but the stakes are high. Get it wrong, and the costs run into the thousands with reduced productivity, absenteeism and a high turnover rate. It’s no wonder employers are trying to tip the scales in their favour and make the right candidate decisions. Many employers see personality assessments as a method for gaining a little inside knowledge into the minds of candidates and current employees; but do personality assessments work? The short answer is yes, they do have their uses in specific situations but there are limitations to be aware of.  

How Do Personality Assessments Work?

A candidate answers a series of questions which are specifically designed to mask what is being measured. The information is collated to determine what the candidate’s personality profile is and how they will behave in certain situations. There are no right or wrong answers, and most assessments aren’t timed.

Personality Tests for Recruitment

Our personality traits can determine how well we do in a job role. In the past decade, employers have embraced personality assessments as part of the recruitment process. When two candidates are evenly matched regarding their skills, experience and interview performance, a personality assessment can help determine the most suitable candidate for the role.

In addition, some roles require particular personality traits in order for personnel to be successful. For instance, first responder roles require a natural level of resiliency that can be difficult to learn in the role. It is therefore beneficial to screen potential candidates for required traits as part of the assessment process and prior to any commencement of a role.

Most personality assessment providers recommend using them as one part of the recruitment process. There is still very much a place for the face-to-face or video interview where you ask each candidate the same set of questions to analyse and rank their performance. The results of a personality assessment in combination with an interview can be the most effective method to determine the successful candidate.

Accurate results come from the right test being used correctly, in the most appropriate circumstance, so use a professional organisation to supply the tests. The decision is too important to put your faith in the results of a free assessment found online.

Personality Tests for Coaching and Development

While recruitment is the obvious use for personality assessments, organisations can also use them for coaching and development of existing employees. There are no good or bad personality types but different personalities are more or less suited to different roles and functions.

An assessment can also help determine which staff will work most cohesively together in a team. By using the assessment results, you can pair or group people, to minimise personality clashes and maximise complementary features. What one person lacks, another may have in abundance. Therefore, teams can compensate for each other’s traits and harmonize.   

If you want to build a highly effective team, you need a mix of personality types. If a team is filled with over analysers, for example,a project may never be completed. Balance is required, by ensuring that some team members are action-orientated, or completers. This will hopefully ensure projects are well analysed and completed on time.

Limitations of Personality Tests

Personality assessments have become highly sophisticated with many scientists claiming significant levels of accuracy in attributing personality types and expected behaviours.However, most remain sceptical of relying solely on such assessments as a ‘catch all’ for people related issues.

A psychologist at the University of Oregon said that even the most comprehensive assessment still only gives us a part description of someone’s personality. One of the most interesting factors of human personality, is our ability to adapt to differing situations. Therefore, while we all may have preferences and personality traits, we also have the ability to adapt to situations and develop new traits, based on the circumstances.

Strengths and weaknesses aren’t necessarily predictors of success, they are merely an indication. It’s the careful analysis of personality, with past experience and propensity for adaptation that provides employers with the appropriate guidance to make appointment and promotion decisions.

If you would like assistance to determine the behavioural style of new candidates or employees, call PeopleSense by Altius on 1300 307 912 or contact us online.

Category: Mental Health