Are Candidate Personality Tests Helpful or Can They Spell Trouble?

The candidate personality test has been a longstanding part of the recruitment process at many companies. In fact, according to Forbes 89 of top Fortune 100 companies admit they use personality tests during the hiring process.


One of the most popular and most commonly used of these tests is the Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The goal of this test is to look at opposing characteristics of a person in order to come to one conclusion about what type of personality that person has. There are a total of 16 different personality classifications and the criteria centers around determining if a person is introverted or extroverted and whether that person prefers sensing or intuitive, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving.

Despite the fact that personality assessments are commonplace, particularly at large companies where there has to be a pretty intensive screening process in place before a candidate can even get close to an actual interview, many professionals are beginning to dismiss these types of tests, citing their lack of scientific validity.

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Even the company responsible for the publishing of the Meyer-Briggs Test, CPP, Inc. has voiced their own concerns about the use of their product as part of the hiring process.

The company released the following statement via an infographic they created:

“It is unethical to use the MBTI tool for hiring. Completing the assessment must be voluntary (not required of applicants) and the results are confidential and belong to the respondent. Furthermore, people of many different types excel at the same job for different reasons. Individuals should not be pigeonholed based on their personality preferences.”

The company has gone on to point out that while the MBTI test may be useful to look at personality traits that could make a person a good fit within a work environment because of their own preferences, it’s not something to be used as an indicator of how successful and individual will be in a certain position.

If you’re using the MBTI or any personal assessment as part of your recruiting strategy, consider the following tips:

  • First and foremost, understand the possible legal ramifications of such use. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is currently assessing their own stance on the use of these tests and particularly whether or not they can be problematic when you have a candidate who may have a mental condition, such as bipolar disorder. The commission has expressed concern that these individuals may be at an unfair disadvantage as the result of such a test. Before using a personality assessment, it’s often recommended companies work with a legal professional to ensure they’re not potentially facing any issues as a result.
  • Don’t use these tests as the be all, end all for your decision-making process. From a legal and practical perspective it can often be best to use a personality test as part of a robust recruitment strategy that includes in-person interviews, resumes, references, etc. It can problematic to solely look at the results of a personality test when deciding if a candidate will be disqualified.
  • You may want to pay attention to those personalities who seem a little “out there,” because these are often the people who are going to be the most innovative and creative. Rather than simply using a personality test to try and find candidates that fit in one particular box or meet a specific set of criteria, look outside your own perceptions and you may be able to source amazing entrepreneurial talent.
  • Let your candidates and employees decide whether or not they will take a personality test. Often candidates enjoy taking them—it’s similar to taking a quiz in a magazine, so you may find most people actually want to take the test, then you have the results and you don’t have to worry about legal ramifications as a result.

Does your company utilize the MBTI or any other type of personality assessment in the hiring process?

October 31, 2014   Updated :March 25, 2015   assessments. personality tests, cpp, mbti, meyer-briggs   

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