Your hiring team’s guide to personality tests

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Your hiring team’s guide to personality tests

guide to personality tests

Personality tests can be a powerful tool for HR professionals in the recruitment process, if used correctly.

They help recruiters gain a better idea of candidates’ personality traits, behavior, emotional response to certain situations, or they can shine a light on what drives candidates to succeed. 

Sometimes, hiring people based only on their technical skills can turn out to be the wrong decision down the road.

Assessing a candidate’s personality traits, characteristics and behavior can play an important role in determining whether they’re the perfect match for a given role.

For example, if someone is going to be working with people all day, it’s probably best if they enjoy being around people. 

Personality tests help recruiters determine who is the perfect fit among shortlisted candidates. 

Although they should definitely not replace the decision-making process, personality tests can also help recruiters formulate intentional questions that allow for more fruitful interviews with candidates. 

In short, personality assessments allow recruiters to identify talent that will be both a good technical fit and a good personality fit. 

Evaluating someone’s personality during an interview isn’t always accurate. For example, a shy person may not stand out during the interview process but may be a perfect fit for the role. For this reason, using personality tests during the hiring process can give you more data to make an informed decision. 

While it may be easy to assume that anyone in a sales position should be extraverted, in reality, being people-oriented and a good listener is much more valuable in sales roles. And personality tests help you determine whether someone possesses the necessary personality characteristics for the roles you’re looking to fill. 

Table of contents:



What are personality tests?

Simply put, a personality test is a tool used to measure and identify one’s personality traits.

There is some controversy when using these tests in the recruitment process, but when personality tests are paired with other tests like cognitive ability tests or role-specific skills tests, they tend to reveal a lot of useful information about candidates. 

According to SHRM, nearly one out of four companies uses personality tests to evaluate candidates in the hiring process. Many organizations understand that personality tests are a powerful tool to use in the hiring process, in order to get to know candidates better. 

Personality tests are different from cognitive ability tests or aptitude tests, and work best in combination with them. While they can be powerful, personality assessments are not meant to inform employers of someone’s intelligence or ability. They shouldn’t be used as a final decision maker in the hiring process, either. Rather, they should be used to understand candidates and help hiring managers prepare appropriate questions for interviews, and also assess the potential for a culture add



Why should you use personality tests in the recruitment process?

There are several different types of personality tests, but all help identify traits in candidates that can better inform the hiring decision. 

For the best results, we advise you to administer personality tests before you interview candidates, as a part of a pre-employment skills assessment. This gives you actionable, in-depth information on applicants’ traits, skills and behavior, which allows you to make an initial selection and conduct more productive interviews.

Using personality tests in the recruitment process will help you in a number of ways. With them, you’re able to:

why should you use personality tests in the recruitment process

  1. Reduce turnover. High turnover rates have a negative impact on productivity and business performance, and personality tests are one of the ways to reduce turnover. They allow you to hire applicants whose personalities make them well-suited for the roles you’re looking to fill. 
  2. Make data-driven decisions. Data always leads to a better decision-making process, and personality tests give you more actionable insights to use in recruitment.
  3. Eliminate bias. Personality assessments help you understand a candidate’s traits without the interference of your own unconscious bias. Similar to data-informed decision-making, they offer you the ability to make objective decisions. 
  4. Gain a better understanding of your candidates. Being able to accurately assess someone’s personality and behavior is crucial when considering who is the right fit for a job. For example, a personality assessment can help you gauge someone’s ability to be persuasive, which could be particularly beneficial for sales roles. 
  5. Compare candidates. Personality tests can also highlight differences between similarly qualified candidates. If two or more people have similar qualifications for a role, then personality assessment tests can help you identify the right candidate.
  6. Save time. What’s one thing most recruiters need more of? Time. Using personality and skills tests helps you save time by creating a shortlist of applicants that fit your criteria and expectations. 
  7. Create a succession planning strategy. When hiring a new employee, it’s always important to think about that individual’s growth trajectory at the company. What makes the most sense for them at the company? Could they grow there? Would they want to? Personality tests help you answer these questions, which can better prepare both you and your new hires for succession planning and upward mobility. 

There’s no question that personality tests are helpful for hiring managers. They help support many crucial elements of the hiring process, and help ensure objectivity when making new hires. Not only is this a best practice, but it also builds trust, both internally with your current employees, and with any future employees that may join your team. 



What exactly do personality tests measure?

Unlike aptitude tests and cognitive ability tests, which measure ability and specific skills, personality tests measure traits, such as, for example, extraversion or conscientiousness, or give insights into someone’s personality type. 

There are no right or wrong answers, and it’s important to communicate this to candidates when administering personality tests, in order to improve the candidate experience and get authentic replies.

Personality tests don’t provide a direct measurement of performance potential; in fact, they’re fairly inaccurate in predicting job performance, according to Frank L. Schmidt, a professor at the University of Iowa

Instead, tests aim to provide a deeper understanding of the individual’s traits, experience, perceptions, motivation, and preferences. The results are used to identify how they would behave in certain situations, or where they stand in a continuum, regarding specific characteristics. For example, a question about how one interacts at a party could be an indicator of how they would act as a team member. 

Each personality test is unique and measures different core traits. Some dive into the things that drive someone to make specific decisions. Others can give you a better understanding of how a candidate might act when faced with difficult decisions in a leadership role. 

All tests have interesting and useful outcomes when working through your pre-employment process, but it’s up to you and your organization to decide which test makes the most sense to implement.



How do tests actually measure someone’s personality? 

To assess someone’s personality and character, tests use either objective or projective measures. Both types of personality assessments don’t measure one’s aptitude or intelligence, they measure one’s response to different situations or stimuli.

  • Objective tests. Objective tests often rely on self-reporting, where test-takers simply provide answers on questions about their behavior or preferences. This is the most common form of pre-employment personality test, as it yields the most accurate answers, which are also relatively bias-free.

Sometimes, when taking personality tests for pre-employment, candidates may fib their answers to adapt to what they think employers want to hear. To prevent this from happening, explain to applicants why you’re administering a personality test, and encourage them to simply provide honest and authentic replies. 

At TestGorilla, we offer many different types of personality tests for employers. In the next sections, we’ll look into each of these tests, and whether they may be a good fit for your hiring process. 



Types of personality tests

There are a lot of personality tests that you can use in the hiring process. 

Some, like the Myers-Briggs test, are well-known, both in and out of the recruitment world. There are others, like TestGorilla’s Culture Add test, that has been developed by our own experts in psychometric testing, and that you cannot find elsewhere. 

At TestGorilla, we have five different types of personality and culture tests to choose from. Some are more focused on organizational culture; others are popular personality tests, like the Enneagram assessment. The five tests we offer are: 

types of personality tests

Each of these tests uses a different approach to measuring candidates’ personality traits. Some are popular tests that are renowned for their objectivity (for example, the Big 5 (OCEAN) test), while others can help you hire talent that fits in your culture and helps you build a strong workforce with a high level of team cohesion. 

Below, you’ll find more details about each of the personality tests we offer, how they could help you make better hiring decisions, and for which types of roles you could use them. 

1. Enneagram 

The Enneagram personality test defines nine interconnected personality types, and was originally designed by Bolivian psycho-spiritual teacher Oscar Ichazo and Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo. 

The test has been used both in spiritual settings and, more recently, in the workplace, to measure how potential employees handle interpersonal situations and how they build relationships. The test results in one of the nine “enneatypes” based on a nine-point geometric figure, symbolizing that all types are interconnected to each other. 

What it tests for: The Enneagram tests one’s interpersonal relationships, what their passions and desires are, and, ultimately, what drives them. It also evaluates the test taker’s communication style in the workplace. 

Format of the test: The Enneagram is a series of this-or-that questions where candidates must choose between two answers. Candidates have to select the answer that best reflects their view. 

Sample questions include prompts such as: 

Describe yourself as you generally are now, not as you wish to be in the future. Describe yourself as honestly as you see yourself, in relation to other people you know of the same gender as you are, and roughly your same age. 

They are then prompted to choose between one of the two answers: 

  1. I rarely display signs of affection.
  2. I am not afraid of displaying signs of affection. 

What the test helps determine: The Enneagram can help employers identify candidates who are best suited for specific roles. For example, Type 7, The Enthusiast, may be a good fit for a Flight Attendant position, since their main desire is to explore and experience new things. The nine types all have recommended jobs for each as well, and can help employers identify which Еnneagram type they think would be best suited for what role. 

As with other personality tests, this test is not recommended to use when making final hiring decisions.  Instead, it should be used to get to know candidates, and to gain a better understanding of their interpersonal skills. 

Simply because there are recommended jobs for the different Enneagram types, it does not mean that those are the only jobs suitable for each type. They are mere recommendations, and each individual’s passions and uniqueness will be expressed in different ways. 

2. Culture Add 

In many ways, company culture contributes to the success of your recruitment and retention strategy. It goes well beyond having a hip office space or providing lots of nice perks; instead, organizational culture is about how managers and leaders are seen, how team members interact with each other, and how the company’s values and mission are interwoven throughout the entire organization. 

Every company culture is unique. And because of that, we’ve designed a test that fits your company’s specific attributes, which allows you to hire top talent that is aligned with your vision, mission, and values. 

The Culture Add test assesses how an applicant’s values and interests align with your company’s values and mission. It lets you evaluate whether their behavior would make them an ideal hire, based on a customized survey you fill out.

What it tests for: The Culture Add test is unique to your organization. You’ll fill out a customized survey and then we’ll generate a test aligned to your company’s needs. This is an example of a projective test, as it measures the subjectiveness of the company’s needs against the employee’s fit. It’s great to use when building your company culture in an intentional way. 

What the test helps determine: This test helps determine candidates’ culture add potential for all job roles. Whether you’re a rising startup or an enterprise-level organization, developing and maintaining a strong culture provides one of the greatest competitive advantages you can have on the market. This Culture Add test will help you map the way.

3. 16 Types 

The 16 Types test is based on the work of Carl Jung, a renowned Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychotherapy. The 16 Types test is very similar to the Myers-Briggs test. It is a self-reporting test that measures the different ways in which people perceive the world and make decisions. 

What it tests for: The 16 Types allows employers to gain insight into a candidate's source of energy, the way they process information, and how they make decisions. It also asks about the kind of lifestyle they prefer. Like in the Myers-Briggs assessment, the 16 personality archetypes from four dichotomies: 

  • Introversion (I) or Extraversion (E)
  • Intuition (N) or Sensing (S) 
  • Feeling (F) or Thinking (T)
  • Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

Format of the test: The format of The 16 Types Test comes as closed-choice questions where candidates must give answers that best reflect their personality. 

Sample questions:

What positive effect do you have on people?

  1. I calm and relax them 
  2. I energize and motivate them 

What the test helps determine: This test shouldn’t be used as an evaluation tool on its own, but as a way to gain an in-depth understanding of your applicants’ personality traits and behaviors. It can help you get to know the candidate better and identify questions to ask during the interview. The test can help determine how people perceive the world around them; it shouldn’t be used as a final decision-maker, but rather a supportive measure to understand the potential employee. 

4. Big 5 (OCEAN)

The Big 5 (OCEAN) personality test evaluates candidates’:

  • Openness (O)
  • Conscientiousness (C)
  • Extraversion (E)
  • Agreeableness (A)
  • Neuroticism/emotional stability (N)

The test uses the five-factor model (FFM) to assess where someone falls on a scale for each of these traits.

It was discovered that two people who share similar aspects of their personality often also shared similar personality traits and habits. For example, someone described as “open to experiences,” would be more likely to adapt to change than those who aren’t open to experiences. 

Additionally, some of these traits are related to job performance and can predict it to an extent. Conscientiousness is the strongest predictor of success in the workplace, especially for low to moderate complexity roles.

What it tests for: The Big 5 (OCEAN) tests for a candidate’s openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability (neuroticism).

Format of the test: The Big 5 (OCEAN) is different from the Enneagram and the 16 Types tests in that it doesn’t use forced-choice questions. Instead, it asks candidates to rate the statement from very accurate to very inaccurate. Like other self-reporting personality tests, the Big 5 (OCEAN) should not be used in final hiring decisions, but rather to get a better understanding of your candidates.

Sample questions:

I am the life of the party. 

  1. Very accurate 
  2. Moderately accurate 
  3. Neither accurate or inaccurate
  4. Moderately inaccurate
  5. Very inaccurate

What the test helps determine: This test will help determine where test-takers’ fall on a scale for each of the five personality traits, and predict job performance to an extent. It can help you create development opportunities that are best suited to your potential employees. This can help determine succession planning and other upward mobility trends for future employees. 

5. DISC

The DISC test is a behavioral assessment based on the model developed by lawyer and psychologist William Marston. The test centers around four core personality traits and how candidates express emotions. The traits are those of dominance (D), influence (I), steadiness (S), and conscientiousness (C).

What it tests for: The DISC assessment measures candidates’ behavioral style and their attitude when placed in certain situations. It explores how test-takers show emotions by classifying behaviors in one of the following four categories: 

  • Dominance (D): Confident, outgoing, and task-oriented 
  • Influence (I): Outgoing, people-oriented, and relational
  • Steadiness (S): Supportive, people-oriented, and reserved 
  • Conscientious: (C): Cautious, detail-oriented 

Format of the test: The DISC assessment requires candidates to take a self-reporting test of 48 personality statements. Like the Big 5 (OCEAN) test, it asks test-takers to rate each statement from very accurate to very inaccurate according to their personality and preference.

Sample questions:

I put people under pressure.

  1. Very accurate 
  2. Moderately accurate 
  3. Neither accurate or inaccurate
  4. Moderately inaccurate
  5. Very inaccurate

What the test helps determine: The DISC test gives candidates and employers a general description of their behavioral type. It also provides employers with insight into how candidates behave in personal relationships, which can help inform how they’ll behave with professional relationships as well. 

The test can help your team understand how candidates collaborate and work as team members, but should not be used as a final decision-maker. 

How to choose the right personality test for your organization 

We offer five personality and culture tests to choose from. They all can help you understand how candidates will react in certain situations, how they’ll interact with other team members, and how they approach decisions they need to make. 

So, with all of this knowledge, how can you know which personality assessment is best for your organization? 

The truth is, you know your company best, so you can only answer that question, but we can help you choose.

When deciding which personality test is the best fit it’s important to assess the following: 

1. Does the test measure traits that are likely to change over time?

Answering this question can help you decide which personality test is best for your pre-employment process. Sometimes, it’s helpful to know how and what drives a person in their life. This is where a test like the Enneagram can help.

Other times, it’s helpful to know where folks are, emotionally, in a given moment. This can help determine the best fit for the current position and allows you to change course and reassess employees as they grow in their careers. 

2. Is the test objective or projective?

Are the results you're seeking meant to be objective? Or are they meant to give information about a specific area? Answering this question before determining which personality test is best for you, could help you in getting the most fruitful results from the assessment you build.

Objective tests are often self-reporting like The 16 Types or the Enneagram. Projective tests, like our Culture Add test, are customized to your own organization’s culture and how employees may or may not fit into it.

3. Are you going to use the test to make a final decision?

Many of the personality tests we offer are not recommended to be used as a final decision-maker when hiring. While the results of different assessments are helpful and can give you in-depth insights about your candidates, using them on their own to make a final decision is not recommended. 

For the best results, we advise you to combine them with 2-4 other tests to build a comprehensive assessment. You can combine our personality and culture tests either with cognitive ability assessments or role-specific tests, or also with situational judgement tests.

But if you are going to use any of the personality and culture tests to make a decision, we recommend going with our Culture Add assessment, since it’s tailored to your organization and its culture. 



How to implement personality tests into the hiring process 

It can be a challenge to know where to start and how to build a solid pre-employment process that features skills assessments. 

Should you simply pick a test and send it to candidates? Should you ask current employees to take the test to see where they fall within certain personality traits? 

The questions could be limitless, so we’ve put together a brief guide to help you implement personality assessments for recruitment. 

1. Choose the right personality test for your organization.

Use the questions above to determine which personality test is best for you and your organization. 

Is it the Enneagram test’s ability to give you insights into what drives your applicants? Or is it The 16 Types test to better understand how candidates emotionally react to situations? Or is it the Culture Add, which allows you to assess someone’s culture add potential?

Perhaps it’s a combination of some of them. The first step in implementing personality tests is to decide which one would work best for your company.

2. Decide what other assessments will pair with the personality test.

We recommend to use personality and culture tests in combination with other tests as a part of your pre-employment screening process, in order to assess your candidates’ skills. We suggest pairing the personality assessment with some of the other tests we offer, for example:

A combination of a few tests can help you easily identify top talent for your organization, and gives you a complete overview of each of your candidates’ skills, behavior and knowledge. 

Using cognitive ability tests and role-specific tests alongside a personality test, for example, can be a powerful tool to identify the best talent.

3. Conduct the test.

We recommend conducting skills and personality tests before interviewing candidates. This allows you to pre-screen applicants and invite only the best ones to an interview, and can also help you ask them better questions during interviews. 

This way, you’ll also make sure you have a holistic idea of the candidate’s technical skills and experience, as well as of their personality and behavior.

4. Analyze test results and prepare for the interview.

Once you have shortlisted the best applicants based on their experience, knowledge and skills, analyze the results of the personality test. Here, you’ll be able to prepare for an interview by understanding how an applicant feels and behaves in certain situations.

For example, if they are introverted, prepare follow-up questions to assess their level of introversion and ascertain how they behave in a team setting.

5. Make a decision.

The final step! Decide on which candidate is the best, and hire them! Of course, as previously mentioned, don’t rely only on the results of the personality test to make your final decision. Simply use it as a tool to understand and get to know your candidates and future employees a bit better. 

You can also adapt onboarding, training and management to them and their personality traits, in order to be more efficient and help them achieve more. 



Do’s and don’ts of personality tests 

Personality tests can be powerful tools to use in the recruitment process, or to assess your company culture: they can help you obtain useful information on your applicants and current employees, and can help you build a stronger organizational culture

But there are some things you need to know about using personality tests, especially when using them in the workplace. Some potential employees may love to take a personality assessment, while others might not be too keen on revealing too much of their personality upfront, or might not understand the need of a personality assessment at all.

To guarantee a stellar candidate experience (which is key when you’re looking to attract top talent), make sure to give your candidates enough context and explain why you’re using personality tests as a part of your hiring process. Explain that you aren’t looking to hire a certain personality type, but simply to better understand them and build a strong, diverse team.

After all, personality tests are all about better understanding your applicants, not about gauging their cognitive ability or aptitude in certain areas (which is best achieved with other tests). 

Do: Be honest with candidates

Let candidates know why you’re using a personality test in your recruitment process. Many candidates may think that you’re using personality assessments to make hiring decisions, and might also not give honest answers, in order to present themselves in a more favorable light. 

Being transparent about your hiring plan is important. This will make candidates feel more comfortable, and will ultimately show them they can be transparent and honest in their answers. 

Don’t: Use this as a deciding factor 

According to the US Department of Labor’s Testing and Assessment guide, personality tests should be used in combination with other assessments. 

Using personality tests as a deciding factor could put you at risk of discrimination and making decisions with an unconscious bias. 

For example, if you’re more likely to hire someone who’s like you and you’re extroverted, this could potentially eliminate an entire pool of talented introverts who would be a great fit for the role. Diverse, inclusive teams perform better, so hiring diverse personality types and profiles is one of the best ways to build a strong team.

Do: Use the results to understand the candidates 

When you take the time to analyze and understand the personality test results of candidates, then they will likely feel more comfortable with you. It could help build trust in knowing that you care about them and what interests them, regardless if they’re the right fit or not. This could also help you build a strong employer brand

Don’t: Ignore comments and concerns about personality tests 

Listen to candidates and carefully consider their feedback, even if they aren’t the person you’ve decided to hire. 

If certain personality tests are intimidating to many of your candidates, then you might need to rethink whether you should use them in the future, or how to better explain to candidates why you’re asking them to complete a personality assessment.

Do: Understand any negative outcomes 

While personality tests are not intended to be intimidating, or to be a deciding factor in the hiring process, understanding and measuring any negative outcomes is imperative in building a strong company culture and a positive candidate experience. 

Don’t: Disclose test results to others

Results are not meant to be shared with others or discussed with team members, for example. They are confidential and you shouldn’t share them with anyone who isn’t a part of the hiring process. The only exception to this might be your future employee’s team lead, who could use test results to adapt their management style to the needs of the new hire.

Do: Analyze results with the hiring team

While it’s not recommended to share the results with anyone not involved in the recruitment process for this specific role, sharing them with your hiring team can help them better understand the candidates they’re interviewing, and allow them to prepare appropriate questions for the interview process.



Testing tools and resources

You can use TestGorilla to build a pre-employment assessment that’s adapted to your needs, analyze results, compare candidates, and also learn more about personality tests (and plenty of other topics related to recruitment) on our blog.

In addition to our personality tests, we have tens of other tests in our Test Library. Personality tests work better when paired with cognitive ability tests or other aptitude tests. We offer a lot of different tests in a number of categories: 

  • Cognitive ability tests
  • Language proficiency tests
  • Situational judgment tests
  • Role-specific skills tests
  • Programming skills tests

If you want a more customized approach, you can build specific assessments based on specific roles that you need to fill. You can create tests that are relevant to any type of job, from a software engineer to an administrative assistant and everywhere in between. 

TestGorilla will give you real-time test results that make analyzing and results easy to manage. 

Make personality tests a part of your recruiting process

There’s no doubt that personality assessments are great tools when hiring top talent: they allow you to gain a better knowledge of your candidates, build diverse teams, and improve your organizational culture.

TestGorilla makes adding personality tests into your hiring process super simple. Our five personality tests, The Enneagram, DISC, The Big Five (OCEAN), The 16 Types, and The Culture Add, all work in different ways to give you insight into your applicants’ personality traits. 

To start using TestGorilla, request a demo or get started with a free trial now.

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