Employers often use personality tests to get information about their employees’ behaviors, work habits and capabilities. These assessments have some value in helping employers determine the best onboarding strategy and training for each individual, but the accuracy of the results can vary. Mistakes can lead to a multitude of problems.

These conflicting points beg the question: Do personality tests help or hurt employees? Here are some of the pros and cons.

How Personality Tests Help

A comprehensive and accurate personality test can reveal helpful information about a new employee. About 80% of Fortune 500 companies use them to evaluate new hires and optimize the onboarding stage.

Here are a few of the most beneficial insights employers can gather using personality tests:

  • Basic characteristics, such as introversion or extroversion, attention to detail, etc.
  • How a new hire responds to conflict and solves problems.
  • What motivates or stresses employees out.
  • Work habits and tendencies.
  • Employees’ overall attitude about their job’s responsibilities.
  • Employees’ ideal work environment, and desired traits in co-workers and supervisors.

Armed with this information, learning and development (L&D) can adjust a new employee’s training to fit their personality. They can create assignments and obstacles that target the worker’s weaknesses and slowly push them out of their comfort zone. Both parties can also work together to set realistic but challenging goals that enable constant improvement.

In the long run, personality tests help employers put their unique group of individuals in the best positions to succeed and get along, boosting the company’s productivity, communication and morale. Your company’s talent acquisition team, management and staff all stand to benefit from personality tests.

How Personality Tests Hurt

The main problem with relying on personality tests is the potential for inaccuracy. Psychologists are still divided on their usefulness outside of academic purposes, and the measurements are often too simple or vague to create meaningful results. At best, experts see these assessments as comparative tools that only scratch the surface of basic personality traits.

Restricted comparisons can lead personality tests to put unnecessary barriers between an employee and future success. The company can weaponize negative traits and avoid giving the worker new responsibilities. The results make the adverse characteristic appear permanent, implicitly stifling growth and preventing career advancement.

This problem can also arise during the application process, hindering underrepresented groups the most — especially those with physical disabilities — by eliminating them from the application pool early on. Traits that have nothing to do with a person’s skills or qualifications might prevent them from being hired.

Businesses use personality tests to “marry” people with specific traits to corresponding jobs. The problem with this approach is that the marriage relies on correlation, not causation. It seeks to uncover a hidden connection between a trait and task without considering the nuances of each individual. This process can quickly become pseudoscientific and lead to poor matchmaking.

Personality isn’t the only factor that motivates people to work. People with various backgrounds and characteristics can succeed in an identical position. They will do the necessary work if they truly want to succeed in a role. It doesn’t matter if they’re introverted or extroverted. Passion and work ethic are much stronger forces than personality in determining a person’s success.

The Final Verdict

Personality tests can provide interesting information about employees, but companies should not rely on them to make hiring and training decisions. They should utilize them as secondary resources to make small changes to the organization’s work environment, like rearranging desks, getting new technology and offering a hybrid schedule.

Standard onboarding practices should remain intact, with qualified applicants getting hired and trained for their desired positions. The matchmaking system is too unpredictable. Personality tests are best utilized when helping companies create work settings that accelerate employee growth. Responsibilities, expectations and advancement should all remain the same.