If you’ve landed here, you’re probably considering whether or not to hop on the personality test train with the many companies already doing so. Is it helpful? Is it ethical? How do actually use the test results when hiring a new employee?
You have questions. Luckily for you, we’ve got research, answers, AND a testimony from someone with a lot of experience in using personality tests to hire! Let’s dive in.
The MBTI (and Other Personality Tests) Explained
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI) is a test developed by Isabel Briggs Myers in the 1940’s. It’s based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type, and it serves to classify people into categories used to assess their perception and judgement. The assessment is based on four pairs of preferences: extraversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, or judging vs. perceiving. Based on answers to a series of questions, test takers are designated one of sixteen personality types.
Another popular personality test is the Enneagram of Personality (commonly known just as the ‘Enneagram’), in which test takers are assigned a number of one through nine. Each number represents one of the nine personality types. CliftonStrengths (formerly known as Clifton StrengthsFinder) helps you to identify your strengths, and encourages people to concentrate their efforts on enhancing strengths instead of improving weaknesses. The Kolbe A Index helps you to discover your natural strengths, or instincts, so that you can increase productivity and reduce stress.
Personality Tests Provide Valuable Insight When Hiring- Here’s Why
Understanding the personalities of potential new employees and pre-existing employees helps you to assess the range of personalities at your company. Please note that these tests should be used in conjunction with a variety of other pre-hire assessments such as interviews, skill assessment tests, and/or cognitive ability tests. This data can be examined and applied in a few different ways.
On an individual basis, you can use their results to consider how they would fit with your company’s culture, core values, and then the role, manager, and team. The MBTI helps you to understand the kind of work environment that someone works best in. Their introverted or extroverted result may help with this! MBTI results also suggests what kinds of values they may personally have, which could launch a discussion into the relationship they may have with your company’s core values.
Since personality tests indicate strengths, you can use their results as a compass to point you in the right direction when considering tasks they may excel in and/or enjoy. Additionally, this information may help you to determine the best ways to communicate with them.
Organizations sometimes use the MBTI to improve their teamwork. Personality tests provide insight into the way that people operate to offer you guidance on how best to train them, manage them, motivate and encourage them, give feedback, resolve conflict… the list goes on.
"You don’t use the Myers-Briggs to predict how someone will perform – you use it to get the best performance out of the people you’re working with.” - CPP Connect
So let’s be real about limitations of personality tests, too, because they aren’t silver bullets. Self-reporting bias is one possible drawback- candidates may choose the answers or traits that they think the company wants to see rather than the ones that truly reflect themselves.
Test takers who have taken the test multiple times have reported testing into multiple personality types.
You might be pigeon-holing your candidates based on these tests. Can your personality test results predict all decisions you make and how you will act? I’m going to take a guess that you answered with a big no- the same goes for your potential hire. At the end of the day, we’re all individuals that make decisions off a variety of factors.
That said, using a personality test in hiring is not a bad idea. As long as you don’t go about applying the results in an overly deterministic manner (don’t take it like the law), you needn’t worry about mis-using it.
Incorporating the MBTI in your Hiring Process
“While many organizations use personality testing for career development, [only] about 22 percent use it to evaluate job candidates, according to the results of a 2014 survey of 344 Society for Human Resource Management members.” - Society for Human Resource Management and ACT
Personally, we love personality tests. It helps us understand one another’s preferences and tendencies as a way to better set someone up for success in a role and/or how to pair them with the things that light them up.
We also find them useful when resolving conflicts. Have you ever been in a fight with your partner - one says “but this is how you made me feel” and the other says, “can you give me examples of when I did that?” Yeah. Classic F vs T argument. But these types of preferences in how we process and interact with the world come up in teams… between manager and a team member, between team members, between someone on the team and a customer, or even when working with a contractor/freelancer.
They help us become more emotionally intelligent so we can be better leaders of people, not managers of skills.
Now that we’ve covered what the MBTI is as well as why we think it deserves a place in your business, let’s talk about how to use it in your business. Based off of the hiring chronology recommended in our FREE Ultimate Dream Team Hiring Roadmap, we would place this in the screening step (right before the interview).
Sort out the applications for candidates you’d like to move forward with. When you reach out to invite them to a 20 minute screening call, ask them what their MBTI result is. If they don’t know it, you can send them a link to this website (or leave it up to them and see how resourceful they are).
Once they inform you of their personality type, take a look at what their result says about them. Have a read on how that mixes with your MBTI, especially in areas where you will work well together and not. OR, how about considering the strengths of an MBTI type and the strengths of the person who would be successful in the role you are hiring for?
To build your dream team, you want to make sure you’re hiring the right people for the right positions. Let me know if you decide to try using the MBTI the way we discuss in the article and how be sure to come back and let us know how that goes in the comments!
Have you ever been asked to take a personality assessment while applying for a job? Has anyone ever recommended that you take the MBTI to help you figure out what career to pursue? Maybe you have experience using these tests in hiring, and you have questions or you’d like to share your thoughts. Comment below and let us know what you think- we want to hear it!