All business owners and C-suite executives know that a strong workforce is the backbone of an organization. Choosing the right candidates is more important than ever before. Underperforming employees can negatively impact a company’s success, making it challenging to remain competitive in the marketplace.

One common tool many human resources (HR) departments use in their hiring process and beyond is a personality test or assessment. According to Psychology Today, approximately 80% of companies in the Fortune 500 use personality tests for multiple purposes, including coaching, employee development and team building.

There’s some debate over whether personality tests are effective tools to measure one’s personality, but they’ve become increasingly popular in the business world. They come in handy in the early stages of the employee lifecycle, but is it possible to use these assessments at other times?

Read on to learn more about personality tests, the stages of the employee lifecycle.

The Stages of the Employee Lifecycle

To understand how to use employee personality tests wisely, you should first learn about the critical stages of the employee lifecycle. This  model addresses the various stages people go through as they advance in their careers.

Learning and development (L&D) teams help employees progress in their careers, so they should understand these stages and what company responsibilities come with each step. Additionally, knowing the lifecycle stages can help learning professionals analyze employee performance data at each step to monitor overall accomplishments.

The employee lifecycle typically includes the following stages:

  • Recruitment
  • Interviewing
  • Onboarding
  • Development
  • Retention
  • Offboarding


There is no one standard employee lifecycle model a company can use for its workforce. However, most start with an employee’s first contact with the organization and end when they leave it.

How Personality Tests Play a Role in Employee Lifecycle Stages

Now that you know what a basic employee lifecycle looks like, you can better understand how personality tests can be used at each stage to foster a more positive, cohesive and collaborative workplace environment.


An employee’s attitudes, patterns of behavior and traits play an important role in whether or not they’re a good fit for the company, so it makes sense to administer a personality test at this time.

However, some professionals describe personality tests as invasive or unethical if used in recruitment or interviewing. If you test an employee during these stages, use the results wisely to remain ethical and avoid invading a candidate’s privacy. One way to do this is by using the results to appreciate your team’s diverse strengths rather than as an uncompromising system of classification.

These tests provide a general overview of the candidate, not an entire breakdown of who they are or if they’d be a quality employee. In other words, do not use the results as the only determining factor during the recruitment or interview processes.


Onboarding is key in employee retention, yet it isn’t always a company’s top priority. However, people who receive a highly effective onboarding experience are 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to the organization.

During onboarding, you can administer a personality test to gain more insight into the employee’s learner preferences, how they respond to feedback and what you can do to help them feel welcome in their new role. The test results should guide how to personalize your new employee’s onboarding experience.


Many companies pride themselves on having collaborative teams that can solve cross-departmental challenges. Employees should be able to work well together toward the business’ goals.

Personality tests can give employees a new perspective on their professional development and goals. They can share their results with other team members, creating a higher level of self-awareness in the group.

Employees who are self-aware of their behavior are more likely to show strong leadership characteristics than those who are not. Personality tests are indispensable tools in the development stage of the employee lifecycle.


A core element of employee retention is understanding your employees and engaging with them based on that knowledge. Certain personality tests can tell you more about which environments people work well in, if they enjoy collaboration, if they work best independently or other details.

From there, managers can based on their employees’ personalities. Companies that use this approach could improve retention rates because team members know their voices are heard.

For example, research shows that 65% of information technology (IT) employees claim workplace flexibility is a major factor in their decision to stay at an organization. Learning these types of preferences through personality tests allows leaders to make more informed decisions to meet employees’ needs.


The offboarding process is the last stage of the employee lifecycle. In this stage, the employee is ready for the next step in their career — but ending the working relationship on good terms is important. You can administer a personality test at this stage for two main reasons: to show people how they’ve changed since they were hired or to gain insight into whether their personality impacted their decision to leave.

If you choose the former, you can send that employee off with new information about their personality so they can use it in the future. Compare their initial results with those they provide during the offboarding process.

If you choose the latter, you can harness personality data to explore why someone left, which could help you make informed decisions during the earlier stages of the employee lifecycle. Many organizations will also survey outgoing employees for the same purpose.

Administering Personality Tests at All Stages of the Employee Lifecycle

Successful organizations are increasingly using personality tests. Consider using them during all stages of the employee lifecycle to gain more insight into potential candidates, current team members and people leaving the company to advance in their careers.