6 Signs to Recognize Good Personality Tests from the Bad

Assessment 6 Signs to Recognize Good Personality Tests from the Bad

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Business owners, HR professionals, hiring experts, and candidates often ask: Do pre-employment personality tests actually work?

The key to making personality assessments work for you is to choose well-designed, thorough tests and bypass those that rely on unscientific and easily manipulated questions.

Choose a strong, validated test to discover a candidate’s suitability – or incompatibility – for your latest opening. Personality tests can work for you.

Here, we’ll explore three characteristics of good personality tests and three elements to avoid.

Good Personality Tests

A good personality test is an insightful evaluation of character traits and behavioral tendencies. Avoid tests which place candidates into strict either/or categories. For example, a simplistic division into those who can work alone and those who can work in teams fails to highlight those who can both, which is likely your preference.

–        Behavior-based questions. Tests should include questions about behavior. “I am confident” is less reliable and revealing than “I am willing to bring my ideas to my superiors.”

–        Designed for Recruiting not Coaching. Most personality tests on the market are strictly designed for team building and personal development. It is key the test is designed to help predict success in choosing candidates. It must have multiple methods for checking for reliability since personality is very subjective on the individuals own self perception. If the candidate cannot commit or feels like they must exaggerate who they are then they have a high likelihood of failure.

–        Validation (reliability). Testing companies should have a method for evaluating their own assessments. This includes ensuring the test measures what it’s supposed to, as well as seeking to assess how honestly and accurately the candidate answered the questions. Some companies rate each individual’s test according to predicted reliability.

Poor Personality Tests

Bad personality assessments are poorly designed and may feature nearly useless questions. Their creators have good intentions. Yet the tests tend to encourage deception, confuse candidates, or have questionable “grading” methods.

Here are some common traits of poor personality test:

–        Excessively general questions. Unfortunately common, these questions typically ask candidates to agree or disagree with statements such as “Usually I’m happy, but sometimes I feel sad.” They provide little insight into a candidate’s personal mindset, let alone their behavior in relation to on the job success. These tests do not target particular traits or abilities.

–        Limited categorization. Ideally, assessment results will measure and discuss a variety of relevant traits and beliefs. Tests which treat traits that are not necessarily mutually exclusive, such as creative thinking and following directions/policy, as conflicting, are criticized by psychologists.

–        Lack of validation (reliability tests). Assessment providers should be aware of the potential failures of their products. Look for testing companies which discuss their validation techniques and who explain their tests have been assessed for accuracy.

These days, upwards of 50% of all companies use electronically administered personality tests. If your company has an online applicant system through a third party, don’t assume the personality test they offer are strong. Take time to explore your options and choose an assessment that incorporates the useful elements described above.

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