How Useful Are Personality Tests in the Workplace?

Clipboard with Career personality test

The use of personality tests during the hiring and onboarding process has grown in recent years, but it hasn’t come without controversy. Proponents of these assessments believe the results can uncover deeper insights into a candidate’s cultural fit, while naysayers argue that using them as a critical hiring factor disregards a person’s practical skills and experience, and could ultimately encourage biased decisions.

So what are the viewpoints of entrepreneurs on personality tests at work? To find out, we asked 13 experts at Young Entrepreneur Council the following question:

Q. What are the merits and flaws of personality tests? Are these tests something that businesses should do?

1. Results help team members work together better

We all have our PI results hanging on our office doors or desks. Personality tests help team members better understand how to interact with each other. For instance, if the results show someone has a strong need for structure, we know they like set meetings as opposed to “Let’s talk about it when we get to it.” It reminds us we are different but can still work together. —Nick FriedmanCollege Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving

2. Assess cultural fit during the interview phase

When recruiting new candidates, we use assessments in the interview phase. The results provide us with insight regarding their skills for the particular role they are applying for, as well as their personality strengths and flaws. With this, we are able to better understand if the applicant is well-suited for the job and if they will be a successful member of our larger team. —Firas KittanehAmerisleep

3. Keep the value of personality tests in perspective

Personality tests can be helpful and informative, but we have to keep the results of these tests in perspective. Be careful not to pigeonhole people based on test results. Using tests like the Culture Index may help you select someone for a job they are best suited for, but don’t underestimate the value of mentorship in bringing people along in areas where the tests might perceive deficits —Robert HillikerThe Lovett Center

4. Use test results as one piece of data

Hiring is similar to getting married after a couple of dates. Selections need to be made quickly, without the opportunity to know a person beyond an interview. Personality tests can be quite valuable, because they provide deeper insight into candidates who may not have otherwise come to light. Use them, but treat the results as “one more component to the puzzle,” rather than a be-all and end-all. —Jackie Ducci, Ducci & Associates

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5. Test regularly to gauge where people are at a given point in time

These tests ask questions to gauge where you are in your life; your answers are based on that moment. Our company offers a new test each year, and we take them to help us talk through communication and management techniques (since we are all remote employees), to help us learn more. The key to remember is tests don’t define you, but provide a snapshot of you at one moment in time. —Amber Lowry, Syssero

6. Evaluate personality fit through performance reviews rather than tests 

Personality tests are very difficult to interview for. They usually point out more flaws than merits, from my experience. I find performance reviews after someone has been hired and has worked for a set amount of time are better indicators of how one’s personality works within an established company culture. —Jordan EdelsonAppetizer Mobile LLC

7. Go beyond personality tests to find the right fit

Personality tests are good for finding people who share the values of your culture. Plus, they can be ideal for finding certain traits, like empathy and creativity. However, they are still tests that are intended to provide a general idea about a person. It’s important to go beyond them, and interact with and interview each candidate to find out their specific personalities to see if they are really a match. —Angela RuthCalendar

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8. Address dysfunction and miscommunication

Our team was showing some signs of dysfunction, so we had each person take the Myers-Briggs test, and found it to be very helpful. I wish I had made it very clear to the test takers that there are no “wrong” answers. People carry a value judgment for some of the questions (such as extroversion and cleanliness), so some people answered aspirationally instead of truthfully. —Kevin Ryan TaoNeuEve

9. Never use tests as a substitute for communication

These tests can provide a general perspective on how to work with a recruited employee. They can give you insight into what type of management style to use with the person, but remember, personality psychology is, at best, a dysfunctional science. These tests are never a good substitute for real communication. —Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

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10. They can help you make a decision if you’re on the fence about a candidate

We do not use personality tests for every new hire. We do, however, use them when we are not 100% sure about a candidate, or if one of the interviewers suspects a specific personality trait. These tests can be very good at helping to solidify (or squash) a suspicion of a potential issue. —Brion BonkowskiTern Commerce LLC

11. Can help determine the best ways to manage team members

I learned the hard way over many years not everyone wants to be managed the way I do. Some want a goal and the freedom to accomplish it; some want more hands-on advice. Some crave public praise, while others abhor it. An assessment can be a great way to tease out the differences between team members and serve as a jumping-off point for conversations that might be hard to have otherwise. —Sean JohnsonDigital Intent

12. Use logic tests to supplement personality tests 

While personality tests are great, they account for only part of the equation of what makes a good hire. Ideally, you want someone who is both logical and has a great personality. Give them some logic puzzles, in addition to the personality test, to find out how their mind works. —Syed BalkhiWPBeginner

13. Seek diverse personalities for your team

Time and again, I’ve found that the best hires are the ones with the best attitude. A personality test can review a potential hire’s true passion (or not) for working for your company and their potential for fitting in with the rest of the team. Certain personalities are better suited for different teams; you don’t want all the same type of personality on one team because you’ll get groupthink. —Andy KaruzaFenSens

RELATED: 14 Non-Negotiable Traits Business Leaders Look for in New Hires

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