Science | August 23, 2017 9:30 am

Is Your Personality Holding You Back?

Companies are turning to personality profiling to find the right candidate.

Most people are not expecting to take a personality test when they walk into a job interview. Instead, they are expecting to answer questions about their job performance or previous experience.

However, managers are increasingly turning to personality and behavioral assessments to sort through job candidates, reports the BBCA 2014 survey of global HR professional by one of the largest providers of online talent tests, CEB, indicated that 62 percent of respondents used some sort of personality test before they hire anyone.

Neil Cleaver, co-founder of management training consultancy EML UK, said that in addition to an uptick in firms being familiar with personality and behavioral assessments, he also sees a difference in what companies want to get out of these tests, writes BBC. 

He said before 2008, it was much more about having fun because business was going great. Now, it is less about fun.

“Now there’s been a steady trend with the global financial situation, with companies expecting more return on investment,” he said to BBC. “They want to be more forensic. They still want events to be fun, but it’s more about what it means and how they can use it.”

Personality can actually tell employers a lot about a potential hire. It can predict job performance and employee motivation. A 2016 meta-analysis found that a general abilities test combined with an integrity test — which is correlated with personality traits — was “one of the best combinations for accurately predicting job performance,” writes BBC. 

Deniz Ones, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota, says that personality predicts typical performance.

“There is an underlying behavioral tendency that is not that different, it’s just a different manifestation,” Ones said to BBC. Conscientiousness is also predictive of positive work behavior, and extroversion is indicative of good performance in managerial jobs, according to Ones.

There are pitfalls to this method though. Many employees feel uncomfortable with personality tests, which can feel “intrusive, arbitrary, unfair or irrelevant to some, and their use can have unintended and counterproductive consequences.” They also might pigeonhole someone for specific jobs, and they will, in turn, be overlooked for leadership or management opportunities.

Either way, Ones suggests that you take an honest approach to taking personality tests if asked during a job interview.

“The best advice is to complete personality questionnaires as you are. You’ll do yourself a disservice if you do not,” she said to BBC.