Personality Testing During the Hiring Process Personality testing is not a new topic. What is new is the ongoing shift in mindset that has diluted the value of personality testing during the hiring process and only finds a value in using personality testing after the candidate has joined the organization. This will be challenged by first providing a brief history on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and reviewing the years of dedicated research that went into the development of the test.
Second, it will reveal the correlations of the test results to job requirements through specific examples. Third, it will discuss why applicant honesty and company policy makes personality testing necessary. Fourth, it will identify and support how many organizations successfully use the MBTI for applications other than pre-employment. Finally, organizations utilizing personality testing, specifically the MBTI, as a part the hiring process will identify the strongest and most compatible candidate for the required organizational needs.
Many organizations are following the notion that personality tests have no relevance to job performance and should not be used as a tool to support the hiring process; however, it can be used appropriately for leadership identification, self-awareness and team building (Robbins & Judge, 2008). The testing of personalities was at its peak in the early nineteen fifties with MBTI leading the way (Overholt, 2004). Banks initially used the MBTI as a pre-screening tool in nineteen forty six. Not one or two banks, but the entire industry was committed to utilizing the MBTI.
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This concept of capturing personality was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katherine Cook Briggs. They performed rigorous studies of some earlier work by a Swiss psychiatrist by the name of Carl Jung. The first assessment was a couple of simple questionnaires that would gauge people by their personality type. There are sixteen possible types that are configured out of four specific categories. The dedication of the Myers-Briggs team was unsurpassed. Even after her mother passed away, Myers spent her life advancing this body of work. Rubis et al. , 2005) For those who may not be familiar with the structure of the test, here are the parameters. There are one hundred questions that are situational based. The participant is to choose the answer that best describes the general actions or feelings they usually have when in that situation (Robbins & Judge, 2008). The questions are built around general concepts of personality, and by answering the questions it helps to reveal the participant’s personality type (Pepper, Kolesnikov-Jessop, & Herman, 2005).
There is no right or wrong when answering. The questions are open to interpretation, because every question is presented on logical opposition (Bentley, 2007). The participant simply determines which one fits them the best. Some examples of the questions a participant would be asked are as follows: "Would you rather be considered a practical person or an ingenious person? ", and: "Does following a schedule appeal to you or cramp you? " (Ross, n. p. ) Once the participant finishes the test, the answers are consolidated into one of the sixteen personality types.
Anyone that takes the test will fit into one of the sixteen personality types that the MBTI generates (Rutzick, 2007, June). To understand how the MBTI can be beneficial in the hiring process, a further definition of the different personality types is necessary. Robbins & Judge (2008) state the following: Individuals are classified as extroverted or introverted (E or I), sensing or intuitive (S or N), thinking or feeling (Tor F), judging or perceptive (J or P).
These terms are defined as follows: Extroverted verses introverted. Extroverted individuals are outgoing and assertive. Introverts are quiet and shy. Sensing verses Intuitive. Sensing types are practical and prefer routine and order. Intuitives rely on unconscious processes and look at the “big picture”. Thinking verses feeling. Thinking types use reason and logic to handle problems. Feeling types rely on their personal values and emotions. Judging verses perceiving.
Judging types want control and prefer their world to be ordered and structured. Perceiving types are flexible and spontaneous. (p. 108) Examples of how the actual results would be presented and what would be learned about the participant are: the INTJ or introverted, intuitive, thinking, judging individual and would be considered a visionary; they are strong willed and could sometimes be considered bullheaded; they are creative and like to act on their own ideas and thoughts. (Robbins & Judge, 2008).
Another example would be the ESTJ or extrovert, sensing, thinking, judging individual and would be considered as the organizer; they are planners who like solving real problems, they work well around others and are very business minded (Robbins & Judge, 2008). Using the two previous examples of personality types, consider the following scenario: Employer “A” has a position open in the operations department for a supervisor. Of the two candidates, the INTJ or the ESTJ, which one would be the better fit in an operations supervisor, knowing both candidates interviewed equally?
The ESTJ would make the best choice, organized, business minded, like solving problems, and as an extrovert will do better working around other people. In contrast if the INTJ is placed in this operational position, it would not challenge his visionary traits and his strong will would work against him when trying to supervise others. It would not be long before the employer or employee, or both, realized they were the wrong fit and separating the employee may be the best solution. This would cause an increase in turnover and training costs that could have been avoided.
The information personality testing provides becomes extremely useful when trying to find the proper job fit, and it would have to increase job satisfaction because now the candidate is in a position or role that suites his unique personality, increasing the potential for them to naturally excel. In conjunction with the interview process, personality testing opens up insight that could easily be missed when trying to assess if a candidate will be the right fit for the position (Baker, 2008).
There are other factors that create an importance for personality testing during the hiring process. Two of these factors are: the increased levels of misrepresentation on resumes and applicants learning or paying for coaching to teach them how to give a great interview (Van Steenwyk, 2008). Another factor to be considered is that references are getting harder to validate. Many organizations have implemented policies that do not allow the providing of job specific references, they will only validate dates of employment (Van Steenwyk).
Having the ability to draw consensus between the information on a resume, the information given by references, what is learned in the interview, and then match all that information up against the results of the personality test allows the perspective employer to have more points of congruency when making a final decision. It helps the employer find the personal side of what is on the resume and reduces failure based on job incompatibility (Baker, 2008). It could be argued that candidates could learn to give what they believe to be the desired answers on a personality test, like the MBTI.
Although not impossible it is a bad way to start a new job and most tests check for continuity of the participant’s answers to make sure the candidate in not lying (Overholt, 2004). Some other highly accepted ways the MBTI is used in organizations are for leadership identification and selection, self-awareness, and team building (Rubis et al. 2005). When an organization needs to select or identify leaders, testing becomes very useful to find the personality traits that are essential to successful leaders (Robbins & Judge, 2008). There are benefits to the established leaders learning more about their own personality.
Once the leaders are armed with the characterizations of their personality type, they can make accommodations for their weaknesses or soften overly direct qualities helping them in their handling of situational outcomes (Rutzick, 2007). During the training or coaching of leaders, many professional trainers or coaches choose to use the MBTI as the first step for helping the leader better understand who they are so they can better understand and lead others (Bentley, 2007). For any leaders to be truly effective they must be able to understand others, allowing them to tap into what motivates or drives an individual or group (Bentley, 2007).
Personality testing provides that essential information. Work teams find personality testing to be helpful during times of conflict resolution as many times personality differences are at the center of most communication barriers (Bentley, 2007). By understanding their individual differences, team members learns to become more tolerant of the other because now they understand why the others think what they think or react the way they react to certain situations, this understanding creates a more cohesive and productive team (Bentley, 2007).
Stronger cooperation will decrease costly turnover and increase job satisfaction because it stimulates open sharing and sparks creativity. (Robbins & Judge, 2008) Currently, there are eighty nine of the Fortune One Hundred businesses that employ the MBTI for their pre-hiring process, team building, and leadership identification and selection (Pepper et al. , 2005). Personality testing works and the results are trustworthy.
To state it more directly, eighty nine of the top one hundred companies choose not to lower the bar, and place a higher importance on wanting to know who they are getting into business with before they make the job offer. This type of emphasis on the selection process helps these companies sustain the strong cultures that are in place, by realizing that several candidates will have the skill or the talent to perform at high levels (Robbins & Judge, 2008). They only hire the candidates that possess that high level to perform and exemplify the highest compatibility with the organization’s culture (Robbins & Judge, 2008).
The MBTI has a history of proven success and worldwide acceptance as a pre-screening tool (Robbins & Judge, 2008). Many organizations make costly mistakes in the hiring of individuals only to discover that because of their personality they just do not fit in. Organizations utilizing testing, in cooperation with the appropriate interview process, greatly reduce costly hiring mistakes and job incompatibilities, while increasing individual and team performance. The trend in people management and development has moved from hard cutting and insensitive to a softer hyper-sensitive approach.
It is time to find the middle ground between the engaged work environment and putting the right people in place that will achieve greater results. References Baker, B. (2008). HIRING HINTS. PM Network, 22(9), 26-27. Bentley, R. (2007). Fit for What Purpose?. Training and Coaching Today, n. p. Overholt, A. (2004). Personality Test: Back With a Vengeance. Fast Company, n. p. Pepper, T. , Kolesnikov-Jessop, S. , & Herman, M. (2005). Inside the Head of an Applicant. Newsweek, 145(8), E24-E26. Robbins, S. P. , & Judge, T. A. (2008). Organizational Behavior (13 ed. . Upper Saddle River: Pearson/Pentice-Hall. Rubis, L. , Fox, A. , Pomeroy, A. , Leonard, B. , Shea, T. F. , & Moss, D. et al. (2005, December 2). 50 FOR HISTORY. HRMagazine, 50, 10-24. Rutzick, K. (2007). Personality Test. Government Executive, 39(9), 22-23. Van Steenwyk, J. (2008). Using Tests to Screen Employees. Journal of Financial Planning, n. v, n. p.. Williams, R. L. , Verble, J. S. , Price, D. E. , & Layne, B. H. (1995). Relationship of Self-Management to Personality Types and Indices. Journal of Personality Assessment, 64(3), 494.
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