Personality tests. Why are they useful for job interviews?

Personality tests are widely used today by individuals, schools, organisations and institutions. These tests are supposed to provide an honest, objective answer about the personality of those taking them.

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In essence, no recruitment process is easy, whether we are talking about an entry-level vacancy or a top management position, because it is difficult to make performance predictions about a candidate based on a face-to-face interview alone. This article focuses on the importance of applying personality tests when interviewing candidates for the applied position.

One of the reasons why many interviewers turn to tools such as personality tests is to find out additional and useful information about the candidate, information that will facilitate the final decision in the selection process.

How do we define an individual’s personality?

Personality is the expression of our characteristics and behaviour, and is what gives us uniqueness in our relationship with ourselves and others. We are different social beings and this is reflected in the existence of several personality types. Psychology as a science is directly related to the understanding of personality, and the methods and concepts of in-depth explanation and analysis of personality are of great value in understanding the nature of human behaviour.

How does personality influence decision-making in relation to others?

Some theorists argue that personality can only be studied by observing outward, social behaviour. It can be difficult to understand why we behave the way we do or why we are attracted to some people and not others. This is because our personality and behaviour are not random, they are actually shaped by our life experiences and the people around us.

Extroverts are more likely to have many close friends, while introverts usually have only a few close friends, but the nature of relationships is often deeper.

Our personalities also dictate how we behave in social situations. More impulsive people are more likely to act on their feelings, while more conscientious or reflective people are more likely to think and analyse before acting.

Ultimately, our personalities dictate how we live our lives. People who are more optimistic are more likely to take risks, while people who are more pessimistic are more likely to ‘play it safe’.

How useful are personality tests in the recruitment process?

The results of psychological questionnaires show what the person completing them says about themselves. Of course, they may have distorted views of themselves or may choose to complete the questionnaire incorrectly, and their relevance then diminishes. The human capacity for self-deception is often underestimated. Thus, you may say you are a calm person, but those around you notice your impulsiveness.

However, professional questionnaires have a fairly high level of accuracy, most often managing to identify the reality behind the words.

These tests, when used in interviews in the recruitment process, are not eliminatory, they simply provide an x-ray of what the candidate’s personality is like.

Why do we use them? Because in order to identify the best candidates for a company or a position it is very important to identify the skills that the candidate has, i.e. their fit with the position and role we have in the organisation. For example, if we need someone who by the nature of the role will be exposed to people a lot, who needs to have a very high level of sociability, a personality test will confirm or deny this. If we have a job as an auditor where we need a person who is extremely attentive to detail, to figures, to analysis, a personality test will tell us whether the person has the necessary skills for the role.

There are many types of tests used by companies in their recruitment processes, such as Life Orientations (LIFO), Disk, Myer-Briggs, etc). One of the most popular methods of personality assessment is the assessment of the five traits through the Big Five test, also known as the five factor model. The five factors detailed are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism, characteristics that are also very useful in creating a successful team.

Companies are most often looking for candidates who are charismatic, proactive, able to take the initiative, easily adaptable to the professional social climate. In this context, because CVs are not always conclusive, personality tests play a very important role, as they help to analyse them in more depth, with a higher level of objectivity and therefore help to consolidate the decision.

Scientific research clearly shows that personality assessments developed according to modern professional standards can predict, with some probability, which candidates are most likely to perform well in a given role. So we expect their use to be increasingly widespread in the future.