The Perfect Personality: Using Personality Tests in the Workplace


By: Brittany McClintick

I am an Eagle. I am also an ENFJ, an Achiever, and, according to a BuzzFeed food quiz, if I were a type of cheese, I’d be Gruyere.

Some of you may recognize these phrases and perhaps identify with some of them. Although personality tests have been around for decades, the trend for companies to use them for hiring and team building purposes is on the rise.

According to the Wall Street Journal “In 2001, 26% of large U.S. employers used pre-hire assessments. By 2013, the number climbed to 57%.” For employers, this is a tool to help strengthen your company.

If you’re debating whether or not to jump on the bandwagon, consider some of the benefits and concerns of personality tests below:

Increased Internal Communication and Understanding

We live in a heavily collaborative world and fluid communication is vital. Sometimes just having a team go through the process of taking a personality test can open dialogue and team-building.

Generally, people enjoy talking about themselves and it could be fun to hear what similarities they might have with their co-workers.

Additionally, knowing certain traits about a co-worker can help facilitate understanding as to why someone may react and handle a situation a certain way.

Streamlined Hiring Process

Any hiring manager or HR recruiter knows a single job posting can yield hundreds of applications. Personality tests are a way to help weed out candidates in an objective manner.

A basic personality test included in an online application can help pull out those who would be ideal for the role and offer insights into the candidates themselves. Such insight can also aid the actual interview providing the interviewer a basis from which to ask targeted questions in exploring the candidate’s personality.

Alternatively, a personality test for top candidates can suggest which person might be the best overall culture-fit for your company.

Results Can Change

A special note to be aware in regards to personality testing is an individual can yield different results at various points in their career or life. Personality traits can also be magnified or minimized depending on the group dynamic.

It’s important not to hold too tightly to certain results but view them more like a fluid guide to an individual’s personality.

People May Develop Bias

If your personality tests as a sort of team-building exercise, with newfound understand, can also come bias and justification. Once a person knows another’s test results they may develop biases, or alternatively, once a person knows their own results, they may seek to justify behavior.

For any team-building personality test, it is important to present results in a positive light as well as encourage your team to view them as a guide rather than a hard rule.

You Can Empower Your Employees to Embrace Their Strengths

In addition to team-building, personality tests can also build an individual. Once a person knows their skill set, they may be empowered to utilize it and take initiative to build upon it. This can also foster a positive work environment where strengths are the focus versus weaknesses.

In a 2011 Forbes article research showed “we stand a greater chance of success if we build on our authentic selves–who we already are–beginning with our innate strengths.”

In other words, knowing your employees’ core talents can help both your company and your employee become more successful by merely building off those talents instead of fixing the negative aspects.

Whether your employees are Eagles or Toucans, ESTJs or INFPs, remember there is no “perfect” when it comes to personality. What these types of tests can offer is an indication of good culture fits for your company and a team ready to tackle problems by using their individual personality traits.