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24 jul

Personality Tests In Hiring: How Much Should You Rely On Them And Why

Being the right person for a job often consists of factors that go way beyond skills, knowledge, experience and professional expertise. More and more companies consider candidates’ personality traits, social intelligence, cultural attributes and general mindset to be essential elements of the package.

Even a genius in his/her niche wouldn’t be able to bring a company forward if the two are looking towards different directions. It would be like putting Cristiano Ronaldo to play as a central defender. In other words, the question is whether the professional, personal and cultural visions of the two parties would align, at least to a reasonable extent. This is even harder to answer in the case of remote workers.

Personality tests are a sophisticated method which is becoming more and more widespread within those frames. They are basically personality quizzes, tailored to reveal how a candidate’s personality traits would manifest themselves in the work environment in question.

Personality tests generally enforce the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) - a questionnaire, based on Carl Jung’s theories and created by Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers. It was first published in 1943, and like a lot of top-quality work, its value is of timeless nature. Today, it’s the most acknowledge tool for defining someone’s character.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise then, that work-related personality quizzes are becoming an essential part of the hiring process, especially when it comes to remote workers.

To what extent can employees rely on the Myers-Briggs type indicator to build a team of employees, united by mutual professional culture? When can personality quizzes help you discover the next big talent for your organization, and when can they cost you a great candidate? Do they contribute to the recruiting process, or harm it? Can they pin down something as complex as a human’s inner world? The business of personality tests is growing rapidly, and so is the debate surrounding it.

 

Which Personality Traits Matter The Most To Your Company

To answer those questions, you first have to take a look at your company’s needs and goals, and culture. What are the most important things you are looking for in a candidate on a personal, human level? This will determine what kind of personality test you need to use in order to identify those qualities in a person’s answers.

For example, does your company deal with tight deadlines, stress, pressure? Is there an emphasis on quantity and speed? There you have it - you need to find a personality quiz with a focus on determining a person’s time management skills and ability to cope with stress.

Looking for team-players who would ideally train others or bring new clients to your firm through personal interaction in the long run? The test then needs to dive into real-life-type situations and explore a person’s sensitivity, extroversion, agreeableness, how adaptable he/she is to new environments, how prone he/she is to understand another human being.

Are you looking for a well-rounded employee? You need a test that covers various aspects of a person’s thought processes.

 

How do personality tests work?

The Myers-Briggs type indicator defines four major categories which are meant to encompass all human actions, thoughts, and qualities. These four groups have a lot in common with the widely accepted Big Five personality traits – Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to experiences. The Myers-Briggs questionnaire defines your character in terms of each of the four groups, making for 16 personality types altogether – 4x4.

If that sounds complicated, imagine for a second that your personality was a picture, making personality test selfies. The Myers-Briggs method uses four different pairs of contrasting colors to draw that picture, the colors being key personality traits. Questions are meant to determine which of the two colors would prevail in each pair.

However, the more nuanced the palette becomes, the trickier things get. The hiring process usually consists of personality tests that put you in imaginary situations and offer you choices. As you can imagine, 3 or more options don’t always include the exact reaction you might have in mind, one that might reveal something that makes you stand out.

Some personality quizzes try to tackle that by having you choose an answer that is the closest to the truth, and one that is further to the truth. This method is designed to narrow down your personality without getting overly specific.

However, this approach can sometimes leave potential employees frustrated because none of the suggested options truly reflects the reality. The answer that is meant to be the closest to the truth doesn’t actually come that close at all. The furthest away from the truth might have crossed your mind a couple of times.

The answers can be too complex and lie in the gray areas where even the Myers-Briggs’ brainchild might not have access to. The picture can become blurry, and only real human interaction and specifically-tailored questions that go beyond personality tests and quizzes.

 

Common problem with personality tests

 

They can be inaccurate

In something as complex as human interaction, a few generalized answers can often fall short of covering all possible outcomes and approaches to deal with a problem or a delicate matter. Nuanced situations require nuanced answers, and trying to recreate those through an automated test with automated answers can have a negative effect. Candidates might not be able to shine the light on the strongest parts of their character.

They might end up feeling robbed or as if they are applying for a position where their unique personality will not only stay under the surface but is encouraged to do so. And regardless of the job, that’s something people rarely see as a perk.

 

Self-definition of character

Another key issue many people encounter with personality tests is with the direct questions about the candidate’s own character. For example, some would have you choose 3 personality traits that you consider to be your best, and 3 you see as the worst.

That can force you to become a show-off and define yourself as the super creative, extremely sensitive and fun guy everybody loves on the one hand, and on the other side, cause a bad impression by claiming to be the distracted, slow and procrastinating candidate many employees might see as a potential liability.

You don’t have the possibility of more detailed, in-depth answers that can truly reflect your personality and what you could actually bring to the table. You can’t explain that your biggest shortcoming has always been that you are often late, but one of your best qualities is your self-criticism which pushes you to straighten out your flaws.

This procedure is nothing like a psycho-thriller type of profiling session where you are the main villain, and the deep roots of your evil nature are being pinned down. Personality tests are mostly meant to put you in relatively broad categories, with some that go the extra mile.

Both can be a good or bad choice, depending on the stage of the hiring process and the extent they are utilized in.

 

Manipulating answers – good and bad

And as you can imagine, manipulating answers is far from impossible. From reading a job description and a little bit about a company, you don’t have to be a genius to get an idea about which answers are likeliest to bring success. This task can vary in difficulty, depending on the ambiguity of the personality quizzes.

However, on that note, it’s worth mentioning that manipulating answers isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s similar to preparing cheat sheets for a test. You need to devote some time to try to predict the questions, then writing the answers, which ultimately results in you learning.

Manipulating answers on personality tests can work on the same principle – it can mean a candidate has taken the time to grasp your company’s visions and possibly possesses the sensitivity and adaptability to tailor his/her answers accordingly.

 

Finding the happy medium

As with most complex human issues, finding the happy medium is key. The Myers-Briggs type indicator is ground-breaking work that has contributed enormously not just to the hiring process, but life altogether.

Personality tests can prove to be of huge help when sifting out candidates based on answers you consider to directly correlate to incompatibility with your company’s vision. They can be a very time-efficient method for getting a better idea of potential employees’ personal traits and character, what you might expect from them and what you might have to keep an eye out for. Personality quizzes can help you narrow your choices while saving you a lot of nerves and energy.

However, they should never be the highest authority or the sole factor. They can do you a lot of good as a complement to the hiring process, a reinforcer, and facilitator, but not as a dictator. Personality tests should be used as a stepping stone to getting to know someone even better and asking the real questions yourself while letting the person give real, unautomated answers.


The hiring process today is equipped with more and fancier tools than ever. However, not only will they not do you much good if utilized incorrectly, but they might even end up harming your company. Some tools are meant to be handled by professionals.

Finding the right remote workers for your company is our business. Get in touch with DistantJob, and we’ll take care of making sure the people you get are the people you need!