Unlocking Your Career Potential: The Importance of Personality Tests in Job Selection

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Jul 7, 2023 10 min read

With new jobs being created almost every day, it’s important to know yourself in order to make well-informed career decisions.

It doesn’t really matter if you have or have not yet started your professional journey. Personality tests can benefit all - juniors and seniors.

If you still haven’t put your mind to a specific career path, then the right personality test can be used as a guide.

Depending on the depth of the test, it can help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, and values. All of these are crucial for feeling good at your new job in the long term.

Some personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (also known as the 16 Personalities Test) can even list the most suitable professions for you.

And if you already have started growing in your career - don’t close the tab. Using personality tests to define improvement opportunities can help you move up the job ladder more quickly than you think.

What’s more, if you’re currently on the lookout for a new job, knowing yourself and what you bring to the table will certainly help you choose the best future employer for yourself. Don’t forget - you know a job is a good fit if your values match those of the organization.

Personality tests can also be used by employers, recruiters, and human resource managers alike during the hiring process, but also to enhance team dynamics and promote collaboration.

In this article, we will:

  • Answer some of the most popular questions about personality tests and jobs

  • Discuss the different types of personality tests

  • Look at how employers use personality tests when interviewing candidates and hiring new employees

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Question #1: Are personality tests even accurate?

The short answer: yes, if taken seriously.

The long answer: the reliability of personality tests depends on several factors. These include the time taken to develop the test, its validity, but also the consistency of your responses.

Suppose we’re talking about professional, in-person personality tests that measure behavior, brain activity, and even hormone levels. In that case, the person administering the test and coming up with the results is also of huge importance.

But since these tests are usually quite expensive and not too accessible, we’ll focus on online personality tests that are, for the most part, free.

When you take an online personality test, keep your environment in mind. Being in a busy, noisy environment might make you frustrated and influence your answers as well as your results.

Another thing that can compromise the reliability of the results is the levels of stress in your life.

If you’re feeling too stressed, or, on the other hand, utterly optimistic, your answers may be biased and not fully objective.

In fact, you may find yourself responding differently to personality tests at different times of your life.

Keeping this in mind, we recommend taking the past 6 months of your life into account when taking personality tests.

Let’s say you’re usually outgoing and love meeting new people but you’ve felt burnt out for the past couple of days and don’t feel like socializing right now.

A question about your desire to make new friends and meet new people will most probably come up in every personality test. And just because you don’t feel like doing these things currently, it doesn’t mean that you’re generally not a fan of socializing.

So take into account your usual state and not only your current state.

Otherwise, you can get different results almost every day. And this would definitely decrease the accuracy of the test, even if it was created by mastermind psychologists.

In addition, if you’re using personality tests when looking for a new job, keep in mind that it’s a good idea to ignore your mood. Especially if you want to find a job that really matches your character and not just the short-term state of your emotions.

Question #2: What are some examples of free personality tests suitable for job selection?

As already mentioned, personality tests can be used by both applicants and hiring managers. Thus, it’s only natural for you to want to check what your results could look like.

We get it. That’s why we’ll now discuss some of the most popular free personality tests that will help you choose the right job.

The DISC assessment

Let’s start with one of the simpler personality tests called the DISC assessment.

It’s a strictly professional test that helps you identify your personality at work. There are 4 possible personality styles - Drive, Influence, Support, and Clarity.

  • If you score high in Drive, you’re probably results-oriented and competitive
  • If you score high in Influence, you’re interested in relationships with other people, cooperation, and social situations
  • If you score high in Support, you’re perceived as warm, open, ready to help others
  • If you score high in Clarity, you’re one of the people who take their time to make the right decision and work intentionally when faced with problems.

And if you score high in more than one style - your results will change, as well as their interpretation.

The Big 5 test

The Big 5 test measures personality using 5 different factors. These are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

The interesting part here is that all these factors are measured independently of each other.

So you could, for instance, rank high for agreeableness but low for conscientiousness.

The Big 5 test can also make you understand how you and others are expected to react in various work-related situations, making it great for assessing your strengths and choosing the right career path.

The 16 personality types test

If you’re looking for something that combines multiple frameworks into one - look no more.

The 16 personalities test relies on a trait-based model that uses the Myers-Briggs format but actually measures personalities using 5, rather than just their 4 scales. These are:

  • Mind: How we interact with surroundings
  • Energy: How we process information
  • Nature: How we deal with emotions and make decisions
  • Tactics: Our approach to work and planning
  • Identity: Our level of self-confidence

Based on these 5 scales, there are 10 personality aspects grouped into pairs:

  • Extraverted vs. Introverted
  • Observant vs. Intuitive
  • Thinking vs. Feeling
  • Prospecting vs. Judging
  • Assertive vs. Turbulent

And depending on your answers, you will get a 5-letter result.

If you’re extraverted, observant, feeling, judging, and assertive, for example, your profile would be ESFJ-A.

Once you take the test, you will be able to see some typical strengths, weaknesses, but also career paths, and workplace habits that people of your type have.

This could give you insight into what the best jobs for you are and what work environment you’ll thrive in.

For instance, according to the 16 personalities guide, possible career paths for ESFJ-A people include being employed as a social worker, or even as an accountant.

But how are personality tests used by hiring managers?

Question #3: Why and how are personality tests used by employers in the job selection process?

Pre-employment tests have become increasingly popular among hiring managers.

They often include skills assessment, language assessment, knowledge assessment, and, since we’re here - personality assessment.

All these tests are used for one reason - to find out if a candidate is a right fit for the position and the company.

And being the right fit means different things for different employers. That’s exactly what makes pre-employment tests impossible to cheat on.

But let’s go back to how employers use personality tests.

Truth is, personality plays a huge role in job performance.

If we turn to science, we can see that character traits such as agreeableness, conscientiousness, and open-mindedness could positively enhance personal efficiency.

Neuroticism, on the other hand, could impact job performance negatively.

But don’t worry if you don’t think of yourself as an agreeable person and would rather state your opinion in a more direct way - many employers surely value this quality.

If the personality test has been crafted by professionals and assesses the applicant’s character traits in detail, it can save both the employer and the candidate some precious time.

Moreover, sometimes interviews can put too much pressure and make the applicant do worse than expected. A personality test could show focus on the applicant’s multiple positive traits while emphasizing that working under pressure just isn’t one of them.

In such cases, hiring managers can decide if they’re up for a tradeoff.

For instance, if working under severe pressure isn’t part of the everyday job, they won’t necessarily be looking for someone with this skill.

Another reason why employers use personality tests for hiring is to predict potential. Especially with more junior candidates, but even with more senior ones, it’s difficult to really understand the potential someone holds.

This is also something very positive for job seekers, as it shows them room for improvement, but also the things that make them stand out.

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Pro tip:

Looking for ways to stand out in front of other applicants? Using a professional resume builder can help!

Last but not least comes diversity.

Companies that want to put more emphasis on the fact that they’re a real equal-opportunity employer often use personality tests for hiring.

In fact, employers that rely on pre-employment tests can find it easier to encourage feelings of inclusion and equality among employers and candidates alike.

Question #4: What are the most popular criticisms of using personality tests in job selection and how can we get past them?

Despite the popularity of personality tests, common criticism points out that they rarely measure soft skills.

Rather, they measure traits and characteristics that are innate and need to be worked on heavily if they were to be changed or eliminated completely.

At the same time, people change. Often, surroundings can dictate behavior.

We go through crises and learn how to be more open-minded and considerate of others.

Lastly, the results of every personality test out there are subject to interpretation.

For instance, one hiring manager might think that being extraverted is crucial for being a good salesperson - you need to be able to talk freely with others, cold-call, etc.

However, another hiring manager might believe that introverted people are actually more suitable for sales positions because of their ability to listen carefully and read body language.

This makes room for personal preferences and interpretation.

Which, in turn, doesn’t really help us get rid of discrimination and bias. Just the opposite.

So should a decision as important be based solely on a personality test?

Well, there’s no easy answer. We would always advise you to choose carefully and think critically.

If you’re looking for a new job - don’t base your life only on 1 or 2 (or even 5, actually) personality tests.

And if you’re a hiring manager - don’t base someone else’s life on a couple of personality tests either.

Yes, they could be a great tool to get to know someone’s type a bit better.

But let’s keep in mind that putting people into well-defined boxes doesn’t work as well as assessing all their qualities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and experience.

In short, the best way to get past the downsides of personality tests is to always aim for the bigger picture.

Personality tests in job selection: what’s next?

All in all, personality tests can be valuable in the job selection process. So let’s not get rid of them completely!

They can point out your potential strengths and weaknesses. And they can also offer valuable insights into what could make a suitable career for you.

And if you’re on the recruiter’s side - they can show you some of the reasons why someone might or might not excel at work.

But don’t think of them as all-encompassing prophecies. Because they’re not.

Treat them as guidelines and don’t make decisions only based on the results you or someone else gets.

In short - use them for what they were created to be - questionnaires that can identify traits and types that never claimed to do so 100% accurately.

For better results, you can always turn to a professional. Book a call with one of our career counselors if you need help:

  • Crafting a job-winning resume with a modern feel

  • Updating your LinkedIn profile

  • Creating an impressive cover letter

  • Preparing for a job interview

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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He applies his deep knowledge and experience to write about a career change, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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