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Should You Use Personality Testing in Hiring?

Posted by Gwen Moran | October 17, 2012
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/224683

Finding employees that are a good fit to your company's culture is one of the most difficult aspects of the hiring process. It's not too surprising then that in recent years the use of personality tests as a method of screening employees has been on the rise.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that the increase may also be due to post-9/11 security and workplace violence concerns. Some of the more established tests include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness (DISC), and the Caliper Profile, but there are many others on the market as well.

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Understanding how to use personality tests can help you find employees with specific traits that are well-suited for the position you're trying to fill, says Paul Forti, founder of PCM Management Consultants LLC, a Monroe, N.J.-based management consulting and assessment firm. However, there are several points to keep in mind to use them effectively.

1. Make sure they're legal. The EEOC warns that all tests are not equal in the eyes of the law. If a test is not properly created or administered, it could be considered discriminatory. (See their guidelines here.) If possible, ask the test developer about the measures taken to ensure the test is in compliance with EEOC guidelines. Hiring an experienced personality testing firm or consultant can also mitigate your risk, but that can cost anywhere from several hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on the scope of the testing, number of employees, and type of test administered. 

2. Create a detailed job description. Forti says that it's critical to understand the job for which you're hiring before you apply the test. "If you need a salesperson who is outgoing and good with people, you're probably going to be looking for a different personality type than someone who works with numbers in the office all day," he says.

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3. Choose the test that measures what you need. There are many different personality tests available to employers, measuring everything from "morality" and "integrity" to whether a person is an introvert or extrovert. Be sure that you're measuring the criteria you need for the position you wish to fill, says Forti, or you're wasting your time. 

4. Be aware of the test's limits. While reputable tests can tell you what personality traits a person has, the tests can't tell you whether the person will succeed in the job, says Forti. Work environment, management style, corporate culture, practical experience and training all have significant impact on the performance of an employee, he says. The test can tell you some things about the individual, but it should not be used in place of extensive interviewing and reference-checking.

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