Personality Tests For Work

Dominic McCanny (Chartered Occupational Psychologist) provides a brief overview of ‘personality tests for work’ highlighting the ‘basics’ you should be looking for when using these type of assessments.

Personality tests for work are today used in an ever increasing way.  Let me first say that I don’t believe they are a test.  They do not have right or wrong answers.  I like to refer to them as an assessment.  However the common perception is that they are tests and this is how they are referred to in this article.

Personality Tests for Work - Man at WorkEssentially there are two formats used.  A ‘Type’ approach and a ‘Trait’ approach.  Most people and organisations have heard of Myers Briggs.  This is a ‘Type’ assessment.  Quite a number of psychologists do question whether or not it is useful test at all, with articles stating: ‘The Myers-Briggs Personality Test Is Pretty Much Meaningless’ ( and ‘Are Scores on MBTI Totally Meaningless?’ (  Whatever anyone thinks, it is the most used assessment in the UK today.  In using personality tests for work the Myers Briggs or any ‘Type’ approach should not be used in a recruitment context.  They may though have some merit in a development context or in improving communications in teams and so forth.

This is where a ‘Trait’ approach is the proper way in which to assess candidates in recruitment situations or for internal promotion.  So what are ‘Trait’ assessments.  A trait, is something distinctive a person has.  It can be measured, and it may correlate with other important things.  For example ‘how analytical are you?’ or ‘how results driven are you’.   The fact that these traits can be measured and then compared against others, provides the rationale as to why they provide an insight into an individual’s likely behaviour in a work setting.  A ‘comparison’ group then allows for understanding the individual’s likely behaviour to ‘achieving results’ or in how ‘analytical’ you are.

Are Personality Tests For Work Reliable and Valid?

The simple answer to that is that those that have been rigorously designed, developed and made available for independent assessment most definitely are.  From an organisation’s perspective the single and most simple question to ask before deciding to use any personality tests for work is – ‘What criterion-related’ validity evidence is available?  In other words, how well does this assessment correlate with the relevant work performance criteria.  It is the single most important technical property of any assessment.  So if you are going to use personality tests or are using personality tests check this aspect out with your provider.

What personality tests are available for work?

There are a huge number of personality tests available today.  Indeed with advances in computer technology it is likely that these will increase even further.  Probably though it is wise to look to see what appropriate comparison groups are available in which to compare candidates.  For example in a ‘Sales’ test, you would look to see that the candidate is being compared against other ‘sales people’ and not for example ‘apprentices’.  Generally though personality tests measure specific personality characteristics for example in an individual’s relationships with people, their thinking style and in their emotions and feelings.  Very detailed reports are available and many now come with suggested interview guides in a recruitment context.

We find in our extensive work in this area personality tests are generally used in – Work | Sales | Leadership | Emotional Intelligence.

They are also used in a development of individuals within a work setting, used in ‘Onboarding’ and in 360 Performance contexts.  They are very useful in understanding the ‘Entrepreneurial’ capabilities of individuals and in career contexts.

Are Personality Tests Expensive?

Personality Tests For Work - Person Completing Paper and Pencil TestWith the ever increasing use of online assessment, the cost of using reports has reduced quite considerably.  When I first started assessing individuals, I had to sit with the individual as they completed their assessment using a paper and pen format.  They I had to score these and provide a written report.  Today, many reports provide narratives in a easy to read format.  However, it is important to stress that interpreting some of the reports does require an ‘accredited user’.  It is also important that feedback is provided to the individual who has completed the personality test.  At Testing Talent we always discuss with the organisation the reports to ensure that they fully understand the content.

Therefore, personality tests offer considerable value for an organisation and at price that most can afford.

What are Behavioural Tests?

Personality Tests For Work- Man Repairing CarWith at times very large numbers of people applying for job vacancies using personality profiles for large numbers of people can increase costs, even when these individuals are shortlisted.  A new approach developed by a number of leading test publishers has seen them develop a ‘behavioural profile’ based on their personality products.  These tend to not have as much in-depth information but they have maintained excellent reliability and validity.  They are not expensive and are in the main intended for initial entry into an organisation.

Reports are available for Work Behaviours | Customer Service | Technical & Safety | Administrative | Commercial Sales Roles in Call Centres

I hope this short ‘post’ provides you with some information on using personality tests for work.  For further information on personality tests and to view various sample reports | Click Here

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