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Why Doing a Candidate Personality Test Might Be a Bad Idea

Posted December 4, 2017

For 100 years, U.S. employers have relied on traditional personality tests. Even as new research has shown them to be unreliable, harmful to the hiring process, and even downright discriminatory, some employers just can’t let them go.

It’s time to break up with traditional testing. Here’s why personality tests are probably a bad idea for your company - and what you can do instead.


People Cheat the System

Do you want to hire liars? Of course not. Unfortunately, a personality test basically encourages every applicant to lie. In order to pass the test, people feel pressured to give certain answers and modify their true personalities to fit what employers want.

The American public has been trained to cheat on employment tests for decades. News stories, business colleges, and social media posts are full of tips on the right and wrong things to say in interviews. It’s become a widespread joke: Turn every weakness into a strength. Tell them you’re a “people person.”

Do you really want to hire new employees based on such a tainted system?


They’re Unhelpful

Here’s something else to think about: Traditional personality tests weren’t even developed for employment. They were developed for war. In the early 1900s, the government began to use them to assess soldiers returning from the battleground. Employers followed suit.

Maybe that’s why most personality tests seem so strange and hypothetical. They ask you to rank your agreement with statements like, “Most people are fundamentally honest,” or “My friends would say I rarely get angry.”

Having candidates’ answers to these questions is simply not good enough for most modern jobs. Today’s employers need to know whether people can handle the complex demands of technology, collaboration, diversity, and global commerce.


Culture Fit is More Important

This leads to another important downside of traditional tests: They don’t they measure culture fit. The culture of your workplace is a key factor in employee satisfaction. If a new hire doesn’t match your culture, they’re unlikely to stay or perform at a high rate.

Culture fit is proven to be more important than almost every other employment factor, including skills and abilities. Your company’s culture includes its style of collaboration, communication, and fitting in - all things that are more a part of personality than ability.

Ironic, isn’t it? Personality tests don’t really even measure personality.


Tests Stifle Diversity

In the effort to measure and standardize, tests also weed out diverse candidates. This has the long-term effect of stifling creativity and innovation, which restricts company growth.

Take it from Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur behind Virgin Media. He welcomes diversity in the hiring process and looks for one-of-a-kind mavericks.

“Somebody who thinks a little differently can help to see problems as opportunities and inspire creative energy within a group,” Branson said. “Some of the best people we’ve ever hired didn’t seem to fit in at first, but proved to be indispensable over time.”


Are They Even Legal?

There’s an even more pressing reason to re-evaluate your company’s dependence on traditional tests: They might be illegal. Research has shown that some tests disproportionately favor white candidates, eliminate women, or overlook disabled people who are qualified for the job.

The legal issue has been clarified in recent lawsuits. In 2006, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) won a lawsuit against a manufacturing company that was eliminating female candidates through biased testing. In 2012, a food distributor paid $500,000 after a judge ruled they were using personality tests to rule out African-American, Latino and Asian candidates.


An Effective Alternative

So what’s the alternative to flawed personality testing? Cutting-edge technology provides a solution: employment matching software, like GoGig.

In a way, it’s like a dating site. Employers and employees are matched using a robust vault of information. Career information is submitted through questions and personality traits are gathered from a special GoGig personality algorithm that analyzes language use from social media profiles. This helps give an in-depth look at who you are hiring. After a match is made, candidates and employers can meet in a neutral space - through in-app messaging - and start a genuine conversation.

Curious about GoGig and the new paradigm for employment matching? Join free for 30 days and see it in action. GoGig uses a candidate’s Twitter account or writing sample to analyze personality. It’s much more accurate than traditional testing practices.

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