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Who Are You? Assessing Employee Skill Sets Through Personality Tests

7.2.20

In Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek says “The ability of a group of people to do remarkable things hinges on how well those people pull together as a team.” And anyone who has managed employees can appreciate that varying management techniques is a necessity when working with individuals from diverse backgrounds who have varying personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.

The need for varied leadership responses has only been amplified in recent months as employees have experienced and expressed increased stress response due to COVID-19, layoffs, and other crises. Employers may turn to personality assessments as a guide for effective management techniques for their employee population to help facilitate a more inclusive and productive workforce.

Similarly, as employers across the globe begin re-hiring staff at a time of high unemployment rates, personality tests may serve as an attractive tool to help weed through candidates. As with any creative tool, however, the use of personality assessments for potential or current employees can carry risks. 

Found Out About You: Widely-Used Personality Tests

There are several different types of personality assessments that have been used in the workplace, but not all were developed for that purpose. Some well-known personality assessments include:

Take Me On: Personality Testing as a Means to Assess Soft Skills for Positions

Personality assessments can be an attractive tool at the employee application stage to narrow candidates down based on “soft skills” required for different positions before the interview stage. In an ideal world, a personality assessment would identify strong candidates without implicit human biases by helping to center the focus of the search on the requisite traits for a specific position.

Managers of current employees could also potentially benefit from personality assessments of their teams. Managers who better understand communication and appreciation styles can better tailor their communications, directives, and conflict resolution plans. A well-tailored management style can improve efficiency and retention.

Danger Zone: Risks Of Personality Testing In The Workplace Setting

Using personality assessments in the workplace does not come without risk, however. With tests intended for clinical settings — as opposed to the workplace — the assessment results could infringe on candidates’ and employees’ medical privacy as it relates to their mental health. Utilization of a test that has not been validated can lead to potential claims of disparate impact discrimination on different protected groups.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy: Best Practices

To avoid legal pitfalls with the utilization of personality assessments, employers should be mindful of these best practices:

As with any tool, the utility of personality assessments should be weighed against the risks.  But used with the correct protections in place, you may find you’ve built a better stronger team.

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