The Pros and Cons of Using Personality Tests for Hiring Employees

Pros and Cons Personality-Tests

Hiring employees for your business is a critical decision, one that can either propel your organization to new heights or lead to obstacles and setbacks. The importance of finding the right candidate, ready and willing to grow with your business, cannot be overstated. But what defines the ‘right’ candidate? While skills and qualifications are crucial, the right candidate is also someone who demonstrates a positive attitude and a personality that aligns with your company’s culture.

The Importance of Personality in Hiring

Consider this: research from Hiring for Attitude suggests that nearly half of all new hires fail within 18 months, and of those, 89% fail because of attitudinal reasons. This highlights the importance of considering personality traits when making hiring decisions.

The right candidate for any position typically possesses a mix of hard and soft skills. Hard skills, such as proficiency in a specific software or understanding of a particular industry, are easy to quantify and evaluate. Soft skills, on the other hand, are more elusive and relate to how a person interacts with others. These can include qualities such as teamwork, leadership, communication abilities, and adaptability.

The Role of Personality Tests in Hiring

Personality tests have become a valuable tool in the hiring process, providing insights into candidate’s behavioral tendencies, work style, and potential cultural fit. They are used to predict how individuals are likely to behave in different circumstances and to assess whether they would be a good fit for the role and the company culture. Interestingly, as many as 88% of Fortune 500 companies use some form of personality test. But what traits do these tests measure, and are they really important?

Traits Measured by Personality Tests

Personality tests typically measure a range of traits that provide insight into an individual’s behavior and attitudes. Some of the most common traits assessed include:

Extraversion vs Introversion

This dimension of personality reflects where an individual draws their energy from. Extraverts tend to be outgoing, sociable, and feel energized by being around other people. They are often assertive and love to be in active, fast-paced jobs, where they have opportunities to work in teams and meet new people. 

Introverts, on the other hand, are more reserved, prefer solitude, and enjoy working alone or in small groups. They usually prefer more structured and predictable environments and may excel in roles that require deep thought and concentration.

Openness to Experience

This trait assesses a person’s openness to new ideas, experiences, and perspectives. Those high in this trait are typically creative, adventurous, and open-minded. They thrive in roles that involve innovation and require them to think outside the box. 

On the other end of the spectrum, individuals low in openness to experience may prefer routine over change and may be more focused on concrete details rather than abstract concepts.


This trait is about how reliable, organized, and disciplined an individual is. People high in conscientiousness are usually meticulous, responsible, and like to plan ahead. They tend to excel in roles that require precision and attention to detail. Those with low conscientiousness might be more spontaneous and prefer a more laid-back approach to work.


This trait refers to an individual’s tendency towards kindness, empathy, and cooperation. Highly agreeable individuals are often considerate, friendly, and good at teamwork. They are likely to excel in roles that require collaboration and interpersonal interaction. 

Those who are low in agreeableness may be more competitive and challenging, which can be beneficial in roles that require negotiation or assertiveness.


This personality trait reflects a person’s emotional stability and resilience. Individuals high in neuroticism may be more prone to feelings of anxiety, depression, or vulnerability. In the workplace, they may be more sensitive to stress but can also be highly motivated. Those low in neuroticism are typically emotionally stable and calm, dealing well with stress.

These traits, often measured by the Big Five personality model, help employers understand how a candidate might fit into a team or role.

Pros and Cons of Using Personality Tests for Hiring

So, are these tests really important? And if so, what are their pros and cons? Let’s delve into this further.


Deepening Insight

Personality tests can help employers understand a candidate’s inherent traits, motivations, and working style, offering a deeper insight than what might be gleaned from a resume or an interview.

Guiding Interviews

These assessments can highlight key areas to focus on during interviews, helping employers probe deeper into a candidate’s capabilities.

Improving Team Dynamics

By understanding an individual’s personality, employers can make more informed decisions about team composition and dynamics.

Reducing Turnover

Personality tests can help predict job satisfaction and fit, which can lead to lower turnover rates.

Enhancing Diversity

When used appropriately, personality tests can help create a more diverse workforce by focusing on traits rather than demographics.


Time and Cost

These assessments can be time-consuming and expensive, potentially limiting their use in smaller organizations or for large-scale recruitments.

Risk of Misinterpretation

Without proper training, employers may misinterpret the results of personality tests, leading to biased or incorrect hiring decisions.

Not a Silver Bullet

While personality tests can provide valuable insights, they should not replace other critical aspects of the hiring process, such as interviews and reference checks.

Risk of Deception

Candidates may try to “game” the system by answering in a way they believe the employer wants, rather than being honest.

Potential Legal Issues

If not administered or used correctly, personality tests could lead to legal challenges if they’re perceived as discriminatory.

Navigating the Complexities of Personality Tests in Hiring

In conclusion, personality traits are not black-and-white but rather exist on a spectrum. Each individual possesses a unique mix of these traits, which shape their personality and influence their behavior in various situations.

When it comes to hiring, personality tests can undoubtedly provide valuable insights into a candidate’s inherent traits, motivations, and working style. They can guide interviews, improve team dynamics, reduce turnover, and even enhance workforce diversity.

However, it’s important to remember that these tests are not infallible, nor should they be used as the sole basis for hiring decisions. Risks such as misinterpretation of results, potential deception by candidates, and possible legal issues highlight the need for caution.

Therefore, while the use of personality tests in hiring can be beneficial, they should be part of a comprehensive and ethical hiring process. The key is to use them thoughtfully and effectively, ensuring they contribute positively to the goal of finding the best fit between the candidate and the role.


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