Pre Employment Personality Tests: How Effective Are They?

[fa icon="calendar'] Jul 9, 2015 8:00:00 AM / by Deborah Lechner

The use of personality assessments for pre employment screening has risen dramatically in recent years. According to the Wall St. Journal, these tests are used to assess personality, skills, and cognitive abilities, among other traits, in about 60 to 70 percent of prospective U.S. workers today as opposed to 30 to 40 percent 5 years ago. As use of these assessments has become more common, many businesses that are not yet using them are curious to know just how effective these tests are and whether making them part of the hiring process is worthwhile.

Are Personality Tests Effective as a Pre Employment Screening Tool?

The answer to that question depends largely on the quality of a particular test and how it is used. According to  Harvard Business Review, personality tests do have some value in the employee screening process when combined with other screening tools. However,  businesses that are relying primarily on personality tests, reference checks and interviews for candidate screening are using a process that is significantly less effective than it could be if other measures were included in the mix.

To support that statement, Harvard Business Review quotes the findings of a meta-analysis of productivity data, performed by researcher Frank Schmidt, to rank various assessment tools on a scale of 0 to 1 as to how effective they are in predicting job performance. According to that data, multi-measure tests were most effective, earning a score of .71. On the other hand, personality tests alone ranked quite poorly in comparison, with a score of .22.

About Multi Measure Assessment

What measures besides personality tests should your business be using to build an intelligent, efficient hiring process? According to a study done by the Aberdeen Group, for entry-level employees, basic assessments are important, including skills, abilities, cognitive, values, conscientiousness, and integrity testing. In physically demanding industries, physical abilities testing can be very important in evaluating the level of performance that can be expected of a potential new hire, while businesses that are focused on sales may benefit from motivational assessments and/or multi-dimensional whole person assessments.

Additionally, the Aberdeen group stresses that candidate assessment is most effective when businesses use a selection of tests that are customized to the specific needs of their business and chosen with care. According to their selection criteria, it is important to choose pre employment testing providers who can show valid and reliable science behind their assessment tools, including evidence of accuracy in predicting performance.

So the bottom line answer to whether or not personality testing is an effective method for pre-employment screening is "yes," but only within the proper context. Personality testing is but one component of a comprehensive screening process, used in conjunction with other effective screening tools relevant to the skills, abilities, and traits necessary to thrive in the particular positions your business is working to fill.

When are Physical abilities test best performed

Topics: Pre Employment Screening

Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.