Using Personality Testing in the Hiring Process


A few days ago, I was sitting in a Barnes & Noble in downtown Chicago killing time before I had to get on a flight out of O’Hare and I came across a great book called Have a Nice Conflict by Tim Scudder, Michael Patterson and Kent Mitchell. After settling myself at a cafe table, I read through the book and gleaned its primary takeaway that understanding the four basic personality types we all fall into is the key to forming more positive and effective relationships.

It got me thinking about how this idea can be amazingly effective when introduced to the workplace, and can minimize your risk of making a bad hiring decision when implemented as a key component of your hiring process.

My coworker Eric Semon, our Director of Customer Success, just put out a great blog post on Recruitment in Smaller Orgs where he stresses the importance of targeting personality characteristics when recruiting rather than looking only at skills and experience. Once you’ve determined the personality traits you are looking for, the question for smaller organizations then becomes how to best identify the personality types of your candidates in an affordable and efficient way.

Unless you have participated in personality testing before or have a degree in psychology, you might not be familiar with personality typecasting. There are quite a number of personality theories out there but they boil down to the following essentials:

  • It is commonly recognized that there are four distinct personality types classified frequently as 1) the Analyzer/Organizer 2) the Helper/Supporter 3) the Leader/Promoter and 4) the Creator/Performer .
  • That doesn’t mean that we have to be only one of the types; a person can fall somewhere between two personality types. For example, you might be predominantly one type with just a touch of a second type in you or you might fall smack in the middle of two of the personality types. Think of it as a spectrum.
  • None of the personality types is good or bad; they all have strengths and they all have weaknesses.
  • We tend to channel our “dominant personality type” when acting out everyday situations but we all know how to use the skills of all four personality types when called upon to do so.

The best way to implement personality testing in your hiring process is to start with an evaluation of your current employees. As I mentioned, there are a lot of options out there for personality tests, but if you are looking for one that takes only a few minutes and is free, try The Four Color Personality Test .

Just have your employees give you a copy of the results or, better yet, have them print the results and set a company wide meeting to review. Here is an explanation of the four color types for this particular test and what the strengths and weaknesses of each are. Once you know the personality types you already have on board, you can make better informed decisions about what kind of personality traits you are looking for in the perfect fit.

Keep in mind that you generally don’t want to hire only one or two personality types even though it might make for easier communication. The exception to this would be if your employees all perform the same role, like a fire station where all the employees are fire fighters. While it takes more effort to educate your organization on how to communicate and interact most effectively with different personality types, you end up gaining significantly by diversifying because you are assured of having at least one person on your team whose strengths are well suited to tackle whatever challenges your business faces.

Once you’ve had your current employees tested and you’ve analyzed the results, you should have a clearer picture of what strengths your organization prides itself on and in what areas it might need a boost.

You should definitely start your personality requirements definition process by looking at the role you are trying to fill. If you are hiring an accountant, you need someone whose personality naturally counts attention to detail as one of their strengths and will probably be seeking an Analytical/Organizer personality to fill that role. But as a secondary step, figure out what else that ideal hire should be naturally adept at. Using the accountant example, Analytical/Organizers can sometimes get too bogged down in the details. Perhaps your company is looking for someone who can problem solve, accept new challenges and get immediate results because that is an area in which you need a bit of a boost. In that case, you might want to look for someone who falls somewhere in between the Analytical/Organizer and Leader/Promoter personality types.

Personality testing is just one more tool in your arsenal to make the best hiring decisions possible for your company. Another important tool is having the right applicant tracking system, and I can point you in the right direction on that one. Here’s another little nugget to chew on…personality testing can also be amazingly effective in personal relationships. Sit down with loved ones, friends and family and discuss your personality test results and see how effective it can be in opening up an even deeper understanding of one another.

Happy and fruitful personality testing!

Author: HiringThing

HiringThing is easy to use, intuitive online recruiting software that makes it easy to post jobs online, manage applicants and hire great employees.