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Personality Test for Employment - Why You Need It

Published: February 23, 2017 In: HR Tech & AI

When you hire a candidate for an open position, you don’t simply hire for skills. Skills do not play themselves out nor do they remain intact. It is the personality that you should hire for.

What is Personality?

Merriam-Webster defines personality as a complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual. It further adds that it is the totality of an individual's behavioral and emotional characteristics.


Why Test Candidates for Personality?

There are three questions the employer has to find answers for during the selection process:

  • right skills and experience
  • enthusiasm and motivation
  • fitment, in terms of personality, attitude, and general work style

To answer the last two questions, employing a personality test is important as it is the personality that is playing an important role in answering the questions about motivation, fitment, trainability, and attitude towards work. 

Previously, personality checks were not scalable for various reasons. With technological advancements and the help of competency mapping in place, it is easier to find the right candidates. 

Significance of Personality to Employment

Employers worldwide are using different forms of tests and tools to decide whether you have the enthusiasm, cultural fitment, and motivation that the employer is looking for.

In terms of cultural fitment, employers assess the personality, attitude, and general work style of the candidate.

In this article, I will elucidate different personality test types, different tools used to measure personality, theories behind each one, and their significance.

I will also discuss common psychometric test* questions asked during job employment.

(*Psychometric tests and personality tests are interchangeably used in the TA industry. If you’d like to get into the depths of it, follow this link.)

What is a Personality Test?

Personality testing refers to techniques that are used to accurately and consistently measure personality.

Personality is something that we informally assess and describe every day. When we talk about ourselves and others, we frequently refer to different characteristics of an individual's personality.

Psychologists do the same thing when they assess personality but on a much more systematic and scientific level.

Different Types of Psychometric Tests

Behavioral interview tests differ from the type of job being assessed for. These are usually included in pre-employment tests.

strengths and weaknesses test

The most common types include:

1. Verbal Reasoning

This type is used when the candidate requires good communication skills. The tests usually include questions that require sentence completion, reading, and paraphrasing a passage.

This test is used when employers seek clearly written reports and documents from the candidates. Also used to understand if the candidate can articulate work-related issues in a clear and simple manner to colleagues, managers, and customers.

2. Numerical Reasoning

These tests are used to find the candidate’s ability to analyze, interpret, and draw logical conclusions based on numerical data presented in graphs and tables, not just find mathematical answers.

3. Abstract Reasoning or Conceptual Reasoning

As the name suggests, it measures the candidate’s ability to think laterally or out of the box for any given problem. Usually, the answers have multiple ways to find the solution. It is the way in which the candidate solves the problem that matters.

This is usually used to find the capability of the candidate to quickly analyze new information and come up with a solution for a difficult situation.

4. Logical Reasoning

This is similar to abstract reasoning tests, the only difference is that in this test the candidate’s ability to work flexibly with unfamiliar information and solve problems is assessed.

Test for logical reasoning

5. Mechanical Reasoning

This is also called a Mechanical aptitude reasoning test. Commonly used to test engineers. This is employed when the employer would like to know if the candidate understands the use of each mechanical and engineering principle & concept.

6. Situational Reasoning

Also known as Situational Judgement Test or SJT is almost always tailored to a job requirement. For instance, questions are presented that are Sales or customer support specific situations and asked to respond to the situation. This lets the employers know how well can the candidate assess the situation and respond.

7. Cognitive Ability Test

The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT, CAT) is a test designed to measure a candidate's learned reasoning abilities. Questions are mostly asked related to Verbal, Quantitative, and Nonverbal reasoning.

Tools Used to Measure Personality Type

Globally, many organizations have realized the importance of hiring for personality along with assessing the candidate’s skills. And hence, there are innumerous tests, tools, and vendors who provide personality tests.

Stress test comic

You can find free personality tests, premium ones, simple personality tests, and even comprehensive test reports as per your requirement.

  • Hogan Assessments

The Hogan Assessment captures key behavioral tendencies relevant to the job and is based on the 11 personality scales.

This is applied in selection, development, and identifying leadership qualities of new hires or existing employees.

  • DISC Personality Test

DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance/Conscientiousness. In a DISC personality test, employers can find out the applicant’s DISC type. This helps to predict the everyday behavior towards others and everything you do.

Most commonly applied to a group of coworkers to find their likeability and match to avoid any internal conflicts.

MBTI test comic

Mostly used in building productive teams, finding effective leaders, minimize team conflict, and develop stronger sales skills.

  • 16 Personality Test

A common career personality test where the candidate is categorized under INTJ-A, ENFP-T, or ESTJ-A. Each letter refers to a specific trait -  it helps describe how people belonging to a specific personality type are likely to behave. Various vendors have their own version or variant of the test based on how they perceive the parent theory.

The 16 personality types from the Myers-Briggs Personality Test

This test is loosely based on Myers-Briggs (MBTI) model which is an introspective report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people make decisions. Has several deficiencies including reliability and validity of the measurement.

  • Behavioral Insights

TBI is a behavioral test based on the Big Five theory - each personality type is tagged to a skill that the job demands. Based on the responses from the candidates, the test reveals the likeability of the candidate to fit the job.


This is the only type of test that DOES NOT ask apparent behavioral questions to the candidate. It leverages psycholinguistics and video interviews to assess the candidate. This test has been designed with the help of experienced occupational psychologists.

You can read more about Talview Behavioral Insights here.

What makes this test reliable than most is that the candidates come prepared to answer a job assessment test or an online personality test. They provide socially acceptable answers to pass the test.

cheating-on-personality-tests - comic

Whereas TBI has targeted the selection of interview questions in such a way that it invokes the applicant’s true intent. It consists of open-ended questions that invoke the respondent to respond with what comes to their mind, and not with answers that are expected from them. Thus, providing accurate personality mapping of each candidate.

Pre-Employment Personality Test

It is apparent that all the tests here are for employment. What constitutes a pre-employment test? It completely depends on the employer or the job. A mixture of all the tests and tools mentioned above are used as a pre-employment test.

Profile analysis of the candidate happens on various levels for various reasons. For example, it may be for selection or training, or leadership. It may also be used for the personal development of the candidate or to test the strengths, weaknesses, and trainability.

A child taking a personality test

Trainability is an important trait the candidate must possess. Most freshers cannot prove their trainability as they have no prior experience at a job. These tests provide insight into a candidate’s trainability or in other words, ability to grasp information and use it to improve on a personal and professional level.

Moreover, this can also be used to invoke a need for personal development in the candidate. This is a plan that lets the candidate set personality goals to nail the next job or attain the next step at the workplace.

Popular Personality Tests in the Market

There are numerous free personality tests out there that help candidates prepare for the test beforehand. To a large extent, it diminishes the authenticity, reliability, and genuineness of the responses. However, they are available, and here are what some of the popular vendors ask.

1. Institute of Psychometric Coaching

This is based on a 5 point scale. Asking candidates to choose between options ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. There are no right or wrong answers.


    • My goals in life are clear
    • If people are rude to me I just shrug it off
    • I can work even when things are disorganized
    • I consistently put full time and effort into everything I do
    • I would describe myself as an extremely competent person
    • I tend to take on other people’s problems
    • People often comment on how comfortable I am in giving orders

2. 16 personalities.com

They ask similar questions but are based on a 7 point scale. Again, no right or wrong.

    • You find it difficult to introduce yourself to other people.
    • You rarely do something just out of sheer curiosity.
    • Your home and work environments are quite tidy.

3. Talview

The questions are bespoke to each job role. The following was asked to engineering graduates.

    • What programming languages do you know? Describe the process that you will use to join two data tables, and you can use any programming language to illustrate the answer.
    • Why are recursive relationships bad? How do you resolve them?
    • Describe a time when you worked in a group on your last technical project.

Cons of Commonly Employed Behavioral Tests

  1. The tests employed usually have questions that are unrelated to work situations. Common questions include:
    • Do you consider yourself to be shy?
    • Do you like parties?
    • Do your friends sometimes say about you that you are a somewhat self-important person?
    • Do you like to talk to strangers?
    These have no correlation to work or the problems faced by the candidate in the day-to-day work environment.

    personality traits

  2. These questions make it easier for the candidate to provide socially acceptable answers defeating the purpose of employing psychometric tests.
  3. These tests are often expensive reducing the scalability of the tests.
  4. And more importantly, most tests come in lengthy, complicated formats that require psychometrician to analyze and interpret them.

Choosing a Vendor

As an employer, it is a true challenge to find a vendor that provides accurate personality results. It is more difficult to find a vendor that provides a detailed report that doesn’t require a psychometrician to interpret the report. The vendor must be able to provide a scalable solution as well.

Example of a personality test report

It is important don’t end up spending more on resources to help you select candidates.

Some famous personality test providers around the globe are Thomas International, CEB, 16 Personalities, Talview, and OPP.


Employers Looking to Assess Candidates' Personality, Click Here.


Tags: HR Tech & AI

Written by: Pavana KR

I am a seasoned expert in my field, with several years experience behind me. I have a proven success record, with a focus on strategic projects and helping to build successful, effective teams that are motivated and goal-oriented.

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