One of the greatest challenges facing any business is the recruitment and retention of staff. Having to replace an experienced team member can pose an incredible strain on the business, especially those with a small team. Anyone who has advertised a role will have received a myriad of applicants showing how amazing they are (even though their experience barely meets the desired criteria, if at all) and then the task of sifting through each application to find the right one begins.

The introduction of personality testing for job applicants has revolutionised the hiring process over the last three decades. This type of testing has given employers the ability to quantify an applicant’s personality traits, as well as their skills, effectively giving an applicant a score out of ten. It has proved to be an efficient way to reduce the number of applicants and ensure that only the most suitable applicants move past this stage.

Since the early 1980’s the number of organisations that use personality testing as part of their hiring processes has risen considerably. There are now a vast array of organisations implementing personality testing as part of their standard hiring procedures, from military special forces to fashion and banking. The implementation across the varied industries has also led to the development of a number of tests, each with their own levels of success.

Why has it become wide spread?

The majority believe that the identification of key personality traits will lead to better placements, therefore increasing the effectivity within an organisation.

Whilst there are some significant differences between the types of tests, generally they all aim to show compatibility in the following areas:

“Person to Job fit” (PJ)

The Person to Job fit aims to make sure that candidates possess the values and beliefs that they will be both beneficial and compatible with the role. For example, finding someone who is detail orientated is vital for a role in quality assurance, not so important in other careers. The ability to pick certain personality traits over others, in theory, ensures that a candidate is suited to the role, hopefully preventing the incorrect person from being hired.

“Person to Organisation” (PO)

The PO fit identifies how the applicant should fit within an organisation. This is an increasingly important trait as organisations look at internal promotion as the preferred hiring ground for managers. This process hopes to find an applicant that shares the same ideals and values by the organisation

“Team fit”

While it is important that the applicant shares the same view as the organisation, their ability to fit into the team /department is vital. If the core values of the team are known then similar traits can be hand selected during the interview process. This potentially increases harmony within the department, preventing personality clashes from occurring or issues with incompatible management styles. This also prevents incompatible personality traits from pooling within a department, whist having a strong personalities within a department is a definite positive, too many can end in conflict. Hiring the wrong fit for the team can have a negative effect on the efficiency of the department as well as lead to long term damage to the organisational culture.

“Corporate culture”

This is a key concern for many employers, as the new team member will need to fit within the current value and belief system. Unfortunately, this is also one of the hardest to test for, as applicants are more likely to answer in a way that will be seen in line with corporate values, than their true feelings.

So, is this something that you bring into your business?

Well, it depends.

Whilst there are a number of benefits to testing applicants, it is critical to remember that testing should be a guidepost and not a fixed label. It is important to understand that personality profiling is not as clear cut as a skills assessment, but rather it is an assessment of potential behaviour and tendencies under stress or in other given circumstances.
It is also important to remember that the desired result of a personality test is only as good as your understanding of the testing. If you are looking for the wrong traits, you’ll never find the right person.