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What Can Pre-Employment Personality Tests Tell You About Your Next Hire?

Lauren O'Donoghue
Lauren O'Donoghue April 28, 2021
Pre-Employment Personality Tests

A company's core values, ethos and beliefs are often just as important as their objectives and strategy – so it makes sense that pre-employment personality tests have increased in popularity, as employers seek to find out more about the people they're hiring.

Designed to assess everything from an individual's key traits and interaction style, to their core values and behaviours, a pre-employment personality test can offer a revealing look at the candidate behind the CV.

It will give you more of an insight into how they're likely to fit within a role or team than their professional history ever could.

What are pre-employment personality tests?

When tailored to the role you're hiring for and designed to assess the key traits and competencies you're looking (or not looking) for, pre-employment personality tests can be a really valuable resource for employers and recruiters seeking to understand more about the personality types of those they're assessing for a role.

A personality test can help you to get a good idea of someone's key competencies, a nuanced look at their character, a view as to how they are likely to fit within a wider team, and even a direct comparison between the candidate's character and the requirements of the role they're applying for.

The tests require candidates to answer instinctively and honestly and aren't governed by 'right' or 'wrong' answers. Instead, they pose questions that can't be revised and are designed to reveal information about the character of the person taking the test.

As well as offering prospective recruiters and employers a better understanding of someone, personality tests can be really useful decision-making tools when it comes to choosing between people with similar professional backgrounds for a role.

The personality test can also be useful in helping to build personal growth objectives for new hires. For example, if someone has shown a lot of desirable skills on their personality test, but has revealed (for example) a lack of confidence in presenting to senior employees, this is useful information for a hiring manager to have from the start.

Are pre-employment personality tests accurate?

Although candidates are asked to answer honestly, it's fair to say that some candidates may make an educated guess as to the types of answers a particular company may be looking for. However, they'll be made aware that answering dishonestly doesn't get you very far.

This is because a lot of the skills candidates are being examined for will also come up in assessment centres, interviews, and of course the job itself.

Candidates are made aware that personality tests are used in conjunction with other psychometric tests, interviews and assessment centres to develop an overall picture of a person. They're never used in isolation to make a hiring decision.

Answering truthfully is beneficial for the candidate to, since it offers a chance for them to delve deeper into their own psyche and find out more about the type of role they may be best suited to.

Are pre-employment personality tests legal for hiring?

Pre-employment personality tests are a perfectly legal part of the hiring process. However, it's important that any personality testing you do is deemed a necessary part of the recruitment process, and that it doesn't discriminate against any candidate taking the test.

It's also important to note that personality tests should always be used in conjunction with other recruitment tools, such as interviews and psychometric tests, to make a full and informed decision about a candidate.

What can personality tests tell me about my next hire?

Pre-Employment Personality Tests

There's a huge wealth of data and information to be gained from pre-employment personality testing. Especially in these areas:

Cultural fit

As important as fulfilling the requirements of the role itself is the ability for your chosen hire to immerse themselves into the ethos, values and culture of the company. Not only is this crucial for day-to-day harmony, it's also beneficial for retention (which in itself is important for reducing hiring-associated costs).

The right pre-employment personality test can help you to determine whether a candidate is likely to be a good cultural fit for your organisation, or the organisation you're hiring for. It can even help you make decisions on a very granular level, such as whether someone is likely to work well within the smaller team you're hiring them into.

Response to conflict and problem solving

Knowing how someone is likely to react to conflict or common workplace issues, in advance of hiring them, can be really helpful in heading off any potential issues and trying to build balanced, harmonious teams.

It may be that for the role you're hiring for an ability to deal with conflict calmly is crucial or that actually, you need to find someone who isn't afraid to have difficult conversations. Either way, getting an insight into how someone might cope with these issues before they start can be really valuable and save you time, money and energy.

Identify key skills, qualities and traits

Whether it's finding the company's leaders of the future, selecting a candidate with traits that are missing from a current team or looking for particular skills always required in a certain role, the pre-employment personality test is one of the best tools at your disposal when it comes to getting to know someone beyond their CV.

Choosing the right personality test and ensuring it's perfectly tailored to the role you're hiring for is important, and it's worth putting the groundwork in as the right test can offer a really valuable additional perspective and even stop you from making costly hiring mistakes.

Should I use pre-employment personality tests in recruitment?

Pre-employment personality tests offer a wealth of benefits to recruiters and hiring managers when selected correctly.

As well as learning more about candidates who you may be tempted to hire, they can make it easier to decide between people with similar experience, ensure you fill vital skill gaps in teams, help you identify areas you may want to work on with someone you do end up hiring, and even stop you hiring someone with incompatible traits — a mistake that can be very costly in the long-run.

However, using pre-employment personality tests correctly is vital. Firstly, it's important to make sure they're always looked at in conjunction with an interview, and alongside any psychometric tests and assessment centres you may also expect candidates to take.

Remember the results shouldn't replace the human decision making of your recruitment process (just enhance it), and if possible, probe anything you see on the test you don't feel to be totally accurate.

It's also important that the tests are free from bias and discrimination, and used in a constructive way to make the hiring process fairer.

In conclusion, personality tests can act as a really strong indicator of a person's character, as well as their individual strengths and skills. They can also help you to identify any traits you think might not be compatible with the requirements of the role and wider team.

When used as part of a full and dynamic recruitment process, personality tests can offer incredibly rich and detailed insights that might just lead you to hire incredible talent.

Lauren O'Donoghue
Lauren O'Donoghue April 28, 2021

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