Revised and updated Oct. 27, 2020
Smart leaders understand how powerful having different personality types in the workplace can be. Personality tests like Myers-Briggs and Enneagram can measure a person’s specific personality traits in multiple ways. Many companies have begun using these evaluations to help them better understand potential and current employees, providing them with valuable insights they may not have obtained any other way.
As with all approaches, however, there are a number of positives and negatives to using personality tests. To help us understand the extent to which employers should rely on personality tests for their recruitment or employee development efforts, we asked 13 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
What’s one pro or one con for using personality tests for recruiting and/or developing employees? Why?
Pro: They serve as great conversation tools
Personality tests are not a one-size-fits-all tool to identify and recruit employees, but they can be great conversation tools for existing and new staff. When used in addition to staff training and growth tools, personality tests can serve as a tool to discuss aspects of your team members’ behavior or their sense of self, helping them to open up and discover more about themselves. —Darby Cox, Darby Cox LLC
Pro: They can help match people to jobs they’d enjoy
Personality tests can be extremely beneficial in the hiring and development process for employees. I’ve found the DISC personality test to be beneficial for matching people with jobs they’d enjoy and likely be successful at. It also allows you to communicate with others more effectively, as it gives you a better understanding of how people process information. —Kevin Getch, Webfor
Pro: They can eliminate unqualified candidates
I think that you can use personality tests when recruiting employees, but that’s about it. Red flag questions on the test can help you eliminate people who are not qualified, which helps you save time and money. You’ll also improve the chances of hiring someone who will fit into their new role. —John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC
Pro: They may offer better perspective on past experiences
Personality tests are useful in hiring because they can test what people will do in specific situations, so you can get a true perspective on their past experiences. Candidates will tell you great stories about how they handled certain situations, but a personality test will give you better insight into why they behaved that way since most people can’t fake their responses. —Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
Pro: They can identify how employees can be integrated into the team
Understanding how someone operates best is just as important as the education and skill set they carry. The Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment is a great test to gauge where a candidate stands in their natural state and how they will integrate into your existing team. It can be used to identify what candidates and personalities will fill gaps in the company culture that you might have. —Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
Pro: They may be more relevant to an employee’s inner self
I think personality tests are interesting and possibly useful, but they are also limited, especially when it comes to the workplace. They are fairly abstract and probably indicate more about an employee’s inner self and potential than how someone is actually going to perform on a day-to-day basis. You can use them, but also look at more measurable factors, such as what people have actually done. —Kalin Kassabov, ProTextingOther Articles From AllBusiness.com:
Con: They are not a final testimony of character
The important thing to remember with the Myers-Briggs or Enneagram tests is that they are not ironclad reports that give you a final testimony of a person’s character. They are meant to help you understand what a person’s preferences are. This will enable you to help people find work and tasks that they’ll love to do, which will help you create a great workplace with high productivity. —Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
Con: They could set employers up to be biased
I think a significant con of using personality tests for recruiting is it sets you up to be biased. You may attribute a candidate’s behavior and words to what the test says, rather than actively listening to people. It’s important to be aware that you could misjudge a person. Keep an open mind and rely on your experience to help you understand a candidate’s fit with your business. —Blair Williams, MemberPress
Con: It’s possible they will generate false positives
I don’t like personality tests because they’re not always accurate and often measure a person’s state of mind at the time they take the test. Many people aren’t comfortable during the hiring process, so you’re getting a false positive. If you insist on using these tests, make them only one factor in your hiring decision. —Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
Con: They risk pigeonholing employees to generic norms
A personality test pigeonholes employees to standards and norms that apply to a trend of people, but should not be used to judge the individual. The risk with these tests is that we seek to derive too much data about a person, and instead they should just be an indicator as to strategies and ways to manage and motivate individuals to improve. They should be used to provide a guiding checkpoint and start more conversation. —Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
Con: They fail to sum up an individual as a whole
The main con of using a personality test is that it fails to sum up an individual as a whole. People are complex and it takes more than a test or a few tests to understand what they would be like to work with. You’re better off contacting their references to get the most accurate, current information about how they are in the workplace. —Jared Atchison, WPForms
Con: They don’t truly show if an employee is a good fit
One con of using a personality test for recruiting employees is that it will not accurately tell you if the employee is a good fit for the position. Personality tests are good, but you have to combine them with other tests. Listening to the candidate and seeing how they react and handle a stressful situation is just as important. —Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME
Con: It could offer an inaccurate reflection of their personality
One con would be that people may try to guess what you want them to say, so it could turn out to be an inaccurate reflection of that person’s true personality. Then you are tempering your interactions, goals, etc. off information that is not relatable to the person. —Brad Burns, Wayne Contracting
RELATED: The 4 Types of Questions to Ask Candidates in a Job Interview