How Accurate Are Personality Tests & Are They Reliable for Employment?
By Carly Gail
Have you ever taken a personality test and been surprised by your answers? Or shocked that you and a very different friend had the same personality type? While some people find personality tests to be incredibly accurate, others aren’t so convinced. Although personality is difficult to measure, tested frameworks and personality assessments are great tools for gaining a deeper perspective into someone’s behaviors.
Personality assessments typically use questionnaires to measure personality traits and human behavior and help people better understand themselves and others. Using tests, such as the DISC assessment, MBTI, Enneagram, or Big Five for employment can help ensure that the candidates best suited for a role are chosen.
Personality testing for employment can also protect a company's culture by ensuring that the chosen candidate is aligned with the organization's values and needs. However, personality tests are not fool-proof and should not be relied on by themselves to pick the very best candidate.
Are personality tests accurate or flawed?
Because personality is subjective and can change over time, personality tests are considered flawed by some. They have, however, stood the test of time and have accurately provided valuable perspectives and insights for many people about the inner workings of themselves and others.
Tests such as the Myers-Briggs type indicator and DISC measure qualities such as extraversion, dominance, conscientiousness, and agreeableness to categorize people into specific personality types. Through these groupings, people can learn valuable insights into their unique personalities.
Personality tests have grown increasingly popular in both professional settings and for personal use. While some people may question whether a personality test is accurate, many studies test their reliability and ensure accuracy. This article will cover studies about the accuracy of personality tests and if they should be used for employment.
Are personality tests valid based on studies?
Because of their interest amongst respondents, popular personality tests' validity is often researched and studied. For example, the famous Myers-Briggs 16 personalities test has received criticism due to its black-and-white nature (you are either an introvert or extrovert, judging or feeling, etc.). While some may critique the idea of putting individuals into defined categories, others still believe in the insights such categories can provide. Specifically, in the workplace, such insights can lessen the risk of placing candidates in the wrong role and give employers the ability to understand better what motivates and drives their employees.
Personality tests have been around for hundreds of years and have consistently provided test-takers with deeper insights into their personalities, behaviors, and characteristics. Research is the foundation of the well-trusted DISC personality assessment, as it is backed by over forty years of study. Thanks to research like this, personality assessments like DISC are often viewed as valid--meaning they successfully measure what they set out to. Although measuring something as subjective as personality is difficult, studies found that "Overall, participants report that the DISC fit is good or excellent approximately 90% of the time".
Another study by SHRM found that, for some employers, as a result of using personality assessments to drive hiring decisions, “there’s no question that the fit of new hires has improved, as well as the culture and engagement around the hiring process.” SHRM also found that advocates of assessments claim the tools can reduce turnover by identifying candidates who are a better fit while limiting unconscious bias on the part of hiring managers.
What makes a personality test reliable and valid?
Personality tests are an excellent way to assess a candidate's potential cultural fit; however, they are best used in conjunction with other methods, such as resume checking, screening, and hard-skills assessments.
When testing the validity and reliability of DISC, analyses found that the model reliabilities are in the good-to-excellent range, with a median coefficient alpha of .87 and a median test-retest reliability of .86. For reference, a reliability score of .70 and above is considered good reliability-- and higher is better. This helps prove the reliability of personality tests.
Because personality can be challenging to measure and there are usually other factors at play, such tests are generally more reliable if taken multiple times.
While they shouldn’t be relied on solely when making important decisions, using personality profiles to supplement other hiring measures or resources is an excellent way to analyze candidates, colleagues, and clients more in-depth. Get started by integrating the DISC personality model in your hiring today.
Personality tests accuracy and validity in the workplace
Although personality tests are reliable, they should not be the sole measurement of a candidate's fit for a particular job and are a great way to supplement other forms of evaluation. Because the test measures different personality characteristics necessary for specific roles, hiring managers can use them to make more informed hiring decisions. As with any assessment, there are advantages and disadvantages of using them in the workplace.
Benefits of using reliable personality tests for hiring
Employers can better visualize a candidate's cultural fit
Thanks to the insights from personality tests, employers can see whether a candidate has the values and traits needed to align with the current workplace culture. While some teams may value independence and ambition, others may be looking for candidates who thrive in more collaborative and social cultures. These insights will allow employers to visualize better whether a candidate will fit within their current culture and whether they possess the soft skills needed to succeed in the role.
Quicker hiring process
Using personality tests can help narrow down the talent pool much more efficiently, ensuring that candidates best aligned with the role will move forward in the process. Using these tests as a pre-screening tool can significantly impact the time it takes to make a hire, saving an employer time and money in the long run.
Insights into what energizes and what drains an employee
Employers can determine what types of work will keep their employees engaged and productive in the workplace or what activities may drain them or lead to burnout--which can prove key for maintaining an effective and efficient team and process. Understanding whether specific tasks are motivating vs. energy-draining can help employers figure out how to appropriately delegate projects to best suit the needs and abilities of their employees.
May help to eliminate biases
When a candidate is being assessed based on their personality test results rather than factors such as gender, geographical location, and race, there is a more significant chance that unconscious biases may be lessened or eliminated. Personality tests can take these factors out of the equation, allowing hiring managers to make decisions based on merit and potential rather than superficial qualifications.
Limitations of using personality tests for hiring
Candidates may answer dishonestly
When taking a personality assessment, candidates may answer in whichever way they think their employer wants them to or rush through tests and not pay attention to the questions when answering.
Added cost for employer
Personality tests add some cost to the employer to administer; however, they can save costs in the long run by making it less likely to hire a bad fit for a role.
May create their own biases
While personality assessments may remove certain unconscious biases within the hiring process, they also have the potential to create their own. Hiring managers and recruiters need to be careful not to remove candidates from consideration based on personality alone or make their hiring decisions based on whichever personality type they find the ideal for the job role.
May not be completely accurate
Because of factors such as candidates answering falsely, or questions not being appropriately tailored to fit a particular role, there may be discrepancies in the accuracy of the test results. To avoid this, hiring managers may wish to have candidates take the test multiple times and ensure they are using a reliable personality testing provider.
Personality tests reliability: Key takeaways
Although personality tests are not absolutely accurate, they are great tools to improve hiring decisions and ensure that the right people are hired into the right roles. The insights they provide can help better understand yourself and others- leading to a more efficient and productive work environment.
While they should only be used as supplementary resources, they are often considered more accurate if test-takers retest and receive the same results. Get started with a free personality assessment today!
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