Successes of Personality Tests within Job Applications

Everyday employer’s strive to hire individuals for their company who demonstrate various different characteristics and will be an asset to the company.  During an interview and hiring process, it is common that employers try to learn as much about a job candidate as possible in order to ensure that this individual will be a gain for the company and not a loss.  Unfortunately sometimes individuals present well during an interview, but their behaviors and personality changes when they actually begin working and are faced with challenging or difficult tasks at work.

The Five-Factor Model of Personality described five personality traits which are Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness to experience, and Extraversion.  (PSU, 2016)  A personality test that incorporates questions that rate an individual on all five of these traits is well rounded and is the most appropriate test, and predictor of an individual’s potential contribution, or lack thereof, to an organization.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Delaware North Cos., a hospitality group, has seen positive results from administering these tests for online job applicants.  Overall, turnover has been reduced for the company and applicants better suited for the job in the long run have been hired.  This is extremely important because turnover is very costly to a company and especially time consuming to managers and leaders who constantly have to spend time training new employees.  Another important factor noted in the Wall Street Journal’s article is that individuals who sit down to apply for these positions at the Delaware North Cos. Group and quickly realize the application is too long for them due to the incorporation of this test, can be “weeded out” and the applicants who are left are presumed to have more drive and more motivation to spend the sometimes lengthy amount of time required to apply for a position within the company.

One of the most important of the five factors to an employer is Extraversion.  Extraversion is defined as The tendency to be social and assertive in nature, and to bring a positive energy to a group.”  (PSU, 2016)  Extroversion vs. Introversion may be generally difficult to measure or determine on a job application or during an initial interview with a potential job candidate.  However, if extraversion is measured on a personality test using different scenarios and analyzing an applicant’s responses to these scenarios, an employer can measure it more closely and determine the level of extraversion a job applicant has.  Extraversion is essential to teamwork in an organization, therefore if there is a lot of teamwork and interdependence needed within an organization to reach the company’s goals, this is an essential trait for an employer to measure.

 

References

 

Weber, L. (2015, April 14). Today’s Personality Tests Raise the Bar for Job Seekers. In Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-personality-test-could-stand-in-the-way-of-your-next-job-1429065001

 

Penn State University. (2016). Unit 04, Lesson 09: Personality.

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Larissa Seeberger October 30, 2016 at 8:01 AM #

    Paulina,

    This was a great topic to write about in this unit! Personality Tests are interesting on multiple levels. On the one hand, it’s clear to see why companies would wish to implement them. As you mention, turnover can be costly to an organization, and hiring individuals with ineffective personalities can also result in shakeups in company culture. This can have an impact on turnover as well, but also has potential to drastically influence morale, which can in turn impact performance.

    On the other hand, the tests themselves have flaws. For instance, they generally involve self-reporting. This may mean that an inaccurate personality snapshot emerges and is not actually indicative of how an individual will act in a particular setting. I would also think that the more aware individuals are of these tests, the more they may “study” for them and attempt to outthink them. There are even books written on the topic of “beating” them (Hoffman, 2001).

    This is not to say that these tests don’t have value, only that they are not fool-proof. In researching a bit on the topic, I even stumbled on a recently developed personality test that builds on the Five Factor Model and attempts to mitigate some previous limitations, focusing on specific professional profiles when assessing personality (Sartori, Ceschi, Costantini, & Scalco, 2016).

    Thank you for your post – it prompted me to seek out information I wouldn’t have otherwise!

    References

    Hoffman, E. (2001). Ace the Corporate Personality Test. McGraw-Hill.

    Sartori, R., Ceschi, A., Costantini, A., & Scalco, A. (2016, September). Big Five for work and organizations: FLORA (Role Related Personal Profile), an Italian personality test based on the Five-Factor Model and developed for the assessment of candidates and employees. Quality & Quantity, 50(5), 2055-2071.

  2. Heather Herring Casey October 29, 2016 at 11:13 PM #

    HI Paulina – Thank you for your analysis of personality tests for hiring. At my organization, we rely on the DISC personality profile to identify key information that may not be found through the interview process. We often have them take this during the process, so that we assess before final decision making and drill down on any areas of concern.

    Within the DISC profile, your high “D”/”I” individuals are those that would line up well with extraversion, as they are high energy, enthusiastic, and direct. One interesting thing I have found is that four years ago, when we looked at all of the DISC profiles on my team, we found that 80% of the team fell into the “D”/”I” category. While I thought that was a great thing, I quickly realized that I was also a “D”/”I”, and after reflection, realized I may be encountering the “like me” hiring phenomenon. I took some time to identify what the strengths and weaknesses of some of the other combinations of personality are, and have been successful in hiring a wide variety for my team since then. Matter of fact, my highest performer is a self-professed introvert, however he has very strong relationship and soft skills.

    One thing I would caution based on what I have encountered, is to look for ways that each person may have worked to overcome some of the potential perceived weaknesses in their natural personality type , prior to eliminating them based on these factors. I think the personality factors are a very good hiring tool, especially if you have certain job skills that someone could be more successful if they had, such as detail oriented, or enjoy repetitive tasks. However, if I had looked at extraversion alone in hiring my top performer, the organization would have missed an extraordinary opportunity.

    Thank you for your thoughts on this! It is definitely a topic near and dear to my heart! Best of luck in the course and the remainder of your studies.

    Heather

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