Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Can I give a personality test during the hiring process?

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
I am opening a business that necessitates very close working relationships between many employees and I feel that a personality test would determine if they would work well as a team. I have been told it is not legal to do this.
There has been a lot of misinformation published regarding the legality of using personality assessments. Unfortunately, many of those articles were written by attorneys who did not differentiate between clinically oriented psychological assessments and pre-employment assessments that were specifically designed and developed for business and industrial use.

Not all assessments are suitable for use as pre-employment assessments. Specifically, psychological assessments that were designed for clinical or diagnostic use should not be used. There is a big difference between pre-employment assessments and clinically-oriented psychological testing. The courts have consistently ruled that psychological testing generally has no place in the business environment.

The E.E.O.C. has always tried to promote objectivity in the employee selection process--the more objective the better. Without an assessment program, you have a very subjective selection system that is highly fallible and will depend greatly on biases and prejudices. Recruiters and managers will always feel more comfortable when hiring people like themselves. Whites will prefer to hire white applicants simply because they can relate to them better. The E.E.O.C. realizes this as a natural tendency and that is why they want objectivity in the hiring process.

Using a good assessment properly ensures protection against E.E.O.C. problems and adverse impact. When an assessment program is properly implemented and utilized in conjunction with other standard hiring and interviewing procedures, it strengthens the employers’ position of taking affirmative action to ensure that applicants and employees are treated fairly without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, or national origin.

It would make the best sense to obtain expert help in selecting the right personality assessment tool to fit your needs to make sure that you use the tool properly and that you use it at the optimal point in your selection process. There are hundreds of assessments on the market. All represent an investment of time and money. But selecting the wrong employees will cost you much more money and will eat into the profits that the good employees are making for your company.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks