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Personality tests are “self-report measures of what might be referred to as traits, temperaments, or dispositions” (Hart & Sheldon, 2007, p. 15). There are several types of personality measures that are used by organizations to select the right employees. Some personality measures use the standard adult functioning range to characterize potential employees, while others aim at identifying psychopathology. Personality measurement instruments such as the “Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)” (Hart & Sheldon, 2007, p. 79) can be used to assess several personality traits. However, some instruments focus on the measure of only a single personality trait. Thus, the instrument used by an employer depends on his needs. As competition intensifies in most industries, companies are focusing on improving their human resources in order to enhance their competitiveness. Part of this process involves hiring the right employee in order to prevent failures in the future. Consequently, the use of personality tests has become a common practice in the recruitment process of most organizations. Personality tests not only help the employer to identify the traits that may enhance the candidate’s performance, but also provides important information that can be used to design training programs. I argue that personality test should be used to select employees since it helps in reducing employee turnover, adverse impact, negligent hiring, and improves career assessment. Thus, this paper focuses on the justifications for personality test.
Benefits of using Personality Tests
Avoiding Negligent Hiring
Recent research indicates that “the tort of negligent hiring” (Danies & Price, 2000, p. 67) is increasingly being adopted in many states in America. Consequently, employers have had to defend an increasing number of suites which seek redress for offenses committed by their employees. Such offenses include theft or assaults in which either the customers or other workers are victimized. Under these circumstances, liability is considered to have been caused by the employer’s act of negligently hiring a person with propensities that could have been avoided by conducting reasonable investigations at the employee selection stage (Bariff & Lusk, 2007, pp. 820-829). In this context, reasonable background checks can help the employer to foresee the fact that a worker posses a threat of injury or damages to other stakeholders in the organization. Consequently, psychological tests become pertinent since the plaintiff is likely to argue that the employer is expected to know the characteristics of the worker who causes harm. Personality test acts as a probative evidence or proof that the employer performed his duty of investigating an applicant’s fitness.
Organizations that use pre-employment personality tests to screen job applicants are, thus, likely to limit their exposure to claims attributed to negligent hiring. This is particularly beneficial in states where accessing criminal records or information about applicants’ background is difficult. The personality tests used to avoid negligent hiring claims include honesty and integrity tests (Bogdoan & Ghina, 2011, pp. 116-120). These tests are important in the retail and banking industries where junior officers may have unsupervised access to cash or merchandise. Integrity tests, for instance, can be used to predict proneness for theft or any other unacceptable behavior at the workplace. Thus, it is apparent that personality test can help an employer to avoid selecting a worker who will caus liabilities to the company.
Research indicates that personality tests have little adverse impacts as compared to other tests such as cognitive ability tests. Among the racial or ethnic groups in United States, African Americans have always attained the lowest marks in cognitive ability assessments or tests (Bogdoan & Ghina, 2011, pp. 116-120). Consequently, it is necessary to use personality tests as a complement to cognitive tests in order to realize a fair, as well as, a legally defensible employee selection process. Personality tests can help organizations to select excellent performers from minority groups who might be overlooked if the selection process considers only their cognitive ability. In this context, personality test will help the organization to achieve its diversity goals by increasing the chances of employing persons from various ethnic groups.
Personality tests enable organizations to evaluate contextual performance which tend to have greater scope of applicability than other performance tests. Task performance tests normally focus on assessing ability with the aim of matching the applicant’s qualifications with the job (Bogdoan & Ghina, 2011, pp. 116-120). However, jobs do change over time, and this necessitates new skills and abilities. This implies that the abilities that were assessed during the selection process may become irrelevant when jobs change. This can force the management to reassess the ability of the job holder to perform in his or her position, given the changes in the job. This inconvenience and the financial resources associated with it can be avoided by adopting a selection process that is based on personality tests. The merit of personality test, in this case, is found in the fact that characteristics which were originally used to select the employee are not likely to change even if the job changes (Bogdoan & Ghina, 2011, pp. 116-120). Thus, as long as, the employee continues to bear the characteristics that are needed for excellent performance, he will continue to excel even if the job changes. This premise is based on the fact that personality predicts how an individual will work. For example, a person’s personality determines whether he will work intelligently, cheerfully, and diligently. Personality also affects the way a person approaches his work and cooperates with others.
Today, most employers hire workers for careers rather than just jobs. Employers are keen in retaining their most talented and committed employees in order to improve or maintain their competitiveness. Besides, retaining top performing employees enables firms to use little time and financial resources to fill vacancies by simply promoting best performers. However, retaining employees or reducing turnover requires the employer to identify the personality traits that will make the applicant more satisfied with the job (Shoss & Strabe, 2011, pp. 163-171). For example, a cleaning job normally involves following some standardized routines. Successful cleaners tend to enjoy routine tasks, are a bit introverted, and are not highly ambitious. These personality traits can not be adequately measured through typical job interviews, or intelligence tests (Shoss & Strabe, 2011, pp. 163-171). However, by using a personality test, the employer will be able to precisely measure the relevant personality traits. Thus, an organization can significantly reduce turnover by properly configuring personality tests to identify individuals who are likely to be highly satisfied with variious important aspects of a given job. For example, if the job mainly involves performing a series of routine tasks on a daily basis, it will be important for the employer to hire a person who is not only capable of executing the task, but is also capable of repeating the task for a long period of time. Personality tests, thus, become important in providing information about the applicant’s type. Therefore, selecting employees who are likely to be satisfied with the job will help in reducing turnover.
Resources Needed for Selection
The selection and recruitment process can be costly to the organization if appropriate methods are not used. The number of applications received and the system used to select applicants determines the time and financial resources to be used in the selection process. Compared to typical job interviews, personality tests tend to be cheaper and convenient to both the employer and the applicants. Using personality tests enables employers to screen the resumes in order to identify qualified applicants who will then be invited for the personality tests. The results of the personality tests, normally, reduce the number of applicants to a few selected candidates who are then invited for a final interview (Hart & Sheldon, 2007, p. 90). Thus, reviewing resumes followed by personality tests reduces the time needed to select the right employee. Besides, it is cheaper since the test can be done online by the applicants.
Perceived Demerits of Personality Test
Personality tests have often been criticized due to two reasons namely; failure to predict job performance and the possibility of faking answers (Shoss & Strabe, 2011, pp. 163-171). The criticism that personality test fails to predict performance is partially true. This is attributed to the fact that there are dubious personality tests in the market. However, there are also effective personality tests which accurately predict job performance. Thus, the problem of poor test outcome can easily be avoided by purchasing the right personality test instrument. Validation can help to avoid the problem of faking answers. Those who oppose personality tests in employee selection process also cite ethical issues such as invading the applicant’s privacy (Shoss & Strabe, 2011, pp. 163-171). Such ethical issues, however, do not arise if the personality test instrument is designed in accordance to the law. This is because there is no employer who can design or purchase a personality test instrument that is likely to attract legal liabilities.
Personality tests are self reports that are used by employers to obtain information about a job applicant’s personality. Research indicates that a person’s personality determines the level of his job performance. This fact has prompted many employers to adopt the use of personality tests in their selection and recruitment procedures (Bogdoan & Ghina, 2011, pp. 116-120). As discussed above, personality tests have several benefits which include reducing turnover and expenditure on employee selection. It also helps to avoid negligent hiring and the liabilities associated with it. Notwithstanding its benefits, personality test has been opposed due to perceived demerits such as failure to predict outcomes. However, the above discussion indicates that the perceived demerits of personality tests can be easily avoided. Thus, we can conclude that personality tests should be used to select employees since it helps to reduce employee turnover, adverse impact, negligent hiring, and improves career assessment.