History of Personality Tests
Throughout history there is evidence of the importance of evaluating personality and character to make judgements about individuals. In 1115 BC, the emperor of china would examine government officials to determine their fitness for office based off “the six arts” - music, archery, horsemanship, writing, arithmetic and the rites and ceremonies of public and private life.
But what about today? Are personality tests worth the investment in our modern age? Pre-employment personality tests can be a very useful tool if they are used for the right purpose. They can provide a guide to understand what a person values, the lens through which they perceive their world, and what type of organizational system they will most likely thrive within. Some of these tests can also be used for other purposes such as helping create teams that work well together, finding the right coaching style for a specific personality, and assigning projects that work with a person’s specific strengths. However, when using personality testing as part of the recruitment process there are steps that employers must take to ensure that they remain in compliance with candidate privacy rights and human rights.
Legal considerations when using personality tests as part of your screening process
There are few legal considerations that employers should familiarize themselves with when choosing to use personality tests as part of their screening process. At a Federal level there is the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). At a Provincial level there is the Ontario Human Rights Code. If these are not taken into consideration, employers may find themselves in hot water. According these pieces of legislation, when using personality tests in the screening process employers must:
- Tell the employee what information is being collected, why and what they intend to do with it.
- Allow participants to access all the information they collect, which includes any results of the personality test.
- Not use a personality test that can provide results which directly or indirectly classifies an applicant based on a prohibited ground of discrimination (age, sex, creed, etc.)
- Ensure the test is valid and is a bona fide requirement of assessing an applicant’s ability to do a job.
- Ensure that tests are specifically tied to the job duties that the applicant would be expected to perform in the job.
There are a variety of personality tests – some more routed in scientific principals than others. Make sure you do your research before investing in one. Ensure that the testing that you select does not inadvertently create a bias against any group of people. Above all, make sure the test you choose follows the guidelines set out by the American Psychological Association for Standards of Psychological testing and follows their principles for the validation and use of personnel selection procedures.
Not sure where to start? Consider using the following two tests:
When interpreting the results of any personality test it is prudent to take that information into consideration along with everything else you know about the candidate to form your final decision. The personality test should never form the basis of your hiring decision.
Looking for more advice on selecting the best candidates for your role the first time? Check out our blog on Social Profiles and Potential Recruits. If you would value the security of a team of HR rock stars in your corner, and on your speed dial (who can also guide you through setting up solid HR recruitment and selection systems), contact us today! Whether it is helping point you in the right direction, or partnering with you though the entire process, we are here for you!