Personality tests are a very useful tool. They can tell you about a person’s inclinations, habits, the way they approach the world, what type of people they work best with, and jobs their skill sets naturally fit. Personality testing has become very popular in both business and in general. You may very well have taken a personality test in your free time simply out of curiosity.
It’s very important, however, not to become over-reliant on personality profile testing and the associated results. With such testing being so common, clichés* have arisen surrounding them as a predictive tool. Here are five, in particular, you should watch out for when using personality testing in a business setting.
A personality test tells you everything you need to know
While a personality test can provide a great deal of useful information it is not the only tool you need. In business, there is more to hiring than a personality test. Experience, education, and personal goals greatly influence how an employee will fit into your company. A personality test is quite valuable and can point to needed skills or a worldview that is beneficial to your company but these are not the only things to keep in mind.
People exactly match their results
People are complex. Two people with the exact same results on a personality test are still unique individuals with their own personalities, interests, and way of interacting with the world. Results on a personality test are a sign post and a person may still have traits or habits that don’t reflect their test results or personality profile. It is important to learn how to interpret these results.
Personalities never change
A person’s personality can change over time. While, generally speaking, our personalities are set around the age of 20, someone’s personality can change from a major life event. Getting married, having a child or even a death can have an impact. We’re complex. Life experiences and personal development can alter a person’s results on a personality test. It’s important to keep this in mind when reviewing results as a potential hire may not have the exact results you’re looking for but they may very well develop them with experience. Key in on their ability to develop.
A person is an ‘either-or’
Most personality tests categorize people in either or classifications such as extrovert versus introvert. Despite how a person may test this does not imply that such a personality trait is permanent. For example, introverts can be quite effective in dealing with people or in large gatherings when this needed. It may not come as naturally to an extrovert but it is a skill that can be developed. Just as the introvert can act extroverted so can the opposite be true. People are versatile and can change their behavior if needed in certain situations.
Hiring a certain type of personality guarantees a successful employee
It will definitely increase your chances, yes. When hiring you may be tempted to hire people based on certain personality profiles that have been successful in the past. This can create a type of tunnel vision where you hire based not on test results but on preconceived notions. Many different types of personalities can be quite successful in a multitude of roles. A personality test is a guide but it is only one part of the hiring process. More important are the impacts of their traits on the competencies requisite of the role.
* Clichés are defined as, “an opinion (or phrase) that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought”. As it relates to personality testing, the above cliches relate to an over-reliance on test results. Many incorrectly hold up personality test results to predict future behavior or define unchanging core personality traits. It’s important to use such test results in their proper context and that is a way to discover a person’s behavior patterns and inclinations which give you an idea of how they react to the world. A personality test is part of the interview process but should be reviewed against other collected information and interview results. Remember people can surprise you in how they react to things and also in how they change and grow.