There are a variety of pre-employment assessments, including intelligence tests, personality tests, job fit tests, interest inventories and work skills tests. Personality tests are designed to measure an individual’s emotional, motivational, interpersonal and attitudinal characteristics, as opposed to abilities. Although personality tests were originally designed for use by psychologists and psychiatrists in clinical settings to diagnose and treat mental illnesses, the increasing use of such tests by employers has spawned an entire industry focusing on developing job-specific personality testing.
Are pre-employment personality assessments effective?
According to a 2012 study by Oracle and Development Dimensions International (DDI), a global human resources consulting firm whose expertise includes designing and implementing selection systems, more than 250 staffing directors and over 2,000 new hires from 28 countries provided the following perspectives on their organization’s selection processes (the following are excerpts from the study):
- [O]nly 41 percent of staffing directors report that their pre-employment assessments are able to predict better hires.
- Only half of staffing directors rate their systems as effective, and even fewer view them as aligned, objective, flexible, efficient, or integrated.
- [T]he actual process for making a hiring decision is less effective than a coin toss.
In a 2007 article titled, “Reconsidering the Use of Personality Tests in Employment Contexts”, co-authored by six current or former editors of psychological journals, Dr. Kevin Murphy, Professor of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University and Editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology (1996-2002), states:
The problem with personality tests is … that the validity of personality measures as predictors of job performance is often disappointingly low. … The argument for using personality tests to predict performance does not strike me as convincing in the first place.
What are examples of test questions?
Set out below are examples of questions from an assessment test. Applicants are to respond to each statement with one of five choices: Strongly Disagree, Slightly Disagree, Not Sure/In Between, Slightly Agree, and Strongly Agree.
1. I don’t mind changes in my daily routine.
2. Others consider me a good teammate.
3. I hardly ever finish things on time.
4. Even if they are correct, I find criticism from others difficult to take.
5. I find unexpected changes to be frustrating.
6. It bothers me when people ask me to help them get their work done.
7. At work, I sometimes don’t finish things on time.
8. I prefer things to stay the same and not change.
9. I usually won’t go out of my way to help someone else.
10. Unexpected problems at work cause me great frustration.
11. I believe that others have good intentions.
12. I don’t always see things through.
13. I complete tasks before being told to do them.
14. I do not get emotional in stressful situations.
15. I can change course, if necessary.
16. I am willing to help other people, even if I am very busy.
17. I do everything I say I will do.
18. I jump into action before others.
19. I am not easily stressed.
20. I can handle criticism without getting upset.
21. I am put off by unexpected events.
22. I only help others if I have extra time at the end of the day.
23. I rarely finish doing things before they are actually due (such as paying bills, finishing work).
24. I am the first person to volunteer for new projects.
25. I am easily stressed.
26. I dislike the unknown.
27. I only offer my assistance to others if my own workload is complete.
28. I prefer to have the same structured schedule every day.
29. At work, you simply can’t help everyone and get your own job done.
30. I get frustrated at work when there are too many demands on my time.