Personality tests offer a way to increase synergy, identify strengths and tailor workflows for different employees. According to Psychology Today, approximately 80% of Fortune 500 companies use these tests to assess their workers.
For hiring and promotions, human resources company SHL found that over 75% of companies with more than 100 employees used some type of assessment tool. This can help identify candidates best suited for a role or company culture, reducing attrition.
Here are five of the most popular personality tests, how they work and when to use them.
1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI Test)
The most widely used test, the MBTI Test groups users into 16 personality types. Based on their answers, employees are assigned letters related to four traits: introverted versus extroverted, sensing versus intuitive, thinking versus feeling and judging versus perceiving. The system then explains what the traits mean, the strengths and weaknesses of the test-taker’s personality type, as well as the environment where they work best.
- Number of Questions: 93
- Time to Complete: 10-30 minutes
- Cost: There are free Myers-Briggs testing sites, but experts recommend using the assessment provided by the official Myers-Briggs Company. Prices start from $49.99 per person with enterprise pricing available.
- When to Use: Used by teams of all sizes across industries, “this personality test is great for…team building exercises,” notes Scott Hirsch, co-founder of the hiring platform TalentMarketplace. Hirsch recommends that individuals take the test and discuss the results in a group, so they can “learn about their colleagues and see how [their personality types] might [work] together for certain activities.”
2. DiSC Personality Test
The DiSC assessment groups users into four personalities, one per letter in the acronym. People with dominance (D) spend time driving bottom-line results. Influence (i) employees often focus on relationships and persuading others. Teammates with steadiness (S) are dependable. Those with conscientiousness (C) strive for quality and accuracy. According to DiSC experts, knowing an employee’s dominant personality trait leads to better interactions within the workplace.
- Number of Questions: 24
- Time to Complete: 15-20 minutes
- Cost: Prices start at $72 per individual. The official testing site also offers a sliding scale for larger teams, starting at $48 per test taker.
- When to Use: DiSC tests are often taken as a team-building or strategy exercise, especially in sales. The assessment creates a common language to discuss strengths, weaknesses and productivity. For example, managers can learn who is more outgoing or introverted, allowing them to adapt workflows accordingly.
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3. Clifton StrengthsFinder
An assessment created by Gallup, Clifton StrengthsFinder assesses users’ thought patterns and behaviors, then groups them into 34 themes. These themes reveal employees strengths and group users into four domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking.
- Number of Questions: 177
- Time to Complete: 35-45 minutes
- Cost: Prices start at $49.99 per person. A version specifically geared towards managers costs $39.99.
- When to Use: “Strenghtfinders is a great tool to identify what strengths a team is exposing, and what their vulnerabilities and weaknesses are,” says Ira Wolfe, president at Success Performance Solutions, a company that builds assessments for employees. Wolfe recommends using this assessment for team building activities, as a way to maximize positive traits in employees.
4. Big Five Personality Test
Also known as The Big Factor Model or OCEAN, this test measures five personality traits: openness (level of creativity), conscientiousness (level of self-discipline), agreeableness (the degree a person focuses on social harmony), extraversion and neuroticism (ability to regulate emotions). The assessment presents users with a variety of statements, asking them to agree or disagree on a scale. Results indicate where on a spectrum the user falls for each trait.
- Number of Questions: 60
- Time to Complete: 5-10 minutes
- Cost: There are many free, open source versions of this assessment online. Some human resource companies offer a more tailored test from $70 per candidate to $2,000 for unlimited users.
- When to Use: Often used in hiring, this assessment helps human resource leaders decide if a job seeker’s personality fits with the available position. “The Five Factor Model is really good at measuring how people deal with stress, so it can help predict if someone will be a good fit at certain tasks,” Wolfe explains. Further, Wolfe says, the test often accurately predicts employees’ job satisfaction.
5. Custom Personality Tests
“We generally don’t endorse standard personality tests for hiring or promoting, because when it comes to that, it’s not one-size-fits-all,” explains Matthew Spencer, co-founder of the AI-powered predictive recruiting network, Suited.
Instead, teams can utilize services, like Berke and Hire Success, that will build custom, psychometric-based assessments. These tailored tests account for the company’s culture, traits most relevant to the open role and the specific qualities valued by management.
- Cost: Test prices varied widely. Custom tests for lower-level positions can cost hundreds of dollars. Custom-made tests for C-suite positions can set a company back over $10,000.
- When to Use: Even though they have a higher price tag, custom tests are often used for hiring. “When you build and develop an assessment specific to the role that you’re hiring for, not only are you doing something that’s going to elicit the appropriate information and ensure no adverse impact, you’re also able to get it to a much higher level of accuracy than if you’re deploying a generalized assessment,” Spencer says. Human resource experts agree that using these tests can help identify candidates who will be most effective and satisfied in their role, keeping churn and long-term recruiting costs low. These tests may also be used for internal promotions.
What to Watch Out For…
When using personality tests, executives should ensure that these assessments are not used to discriminate against current or potential employees.
“Some of the commonly used tests can create substantial adverse impact against underrepresented demographic groups and have real challenges for the firm, because they are so broad,” Spencer says.
A report from The Center for Democracy & Technology warns that personality tests could screen out candidates with depression and anxiety, which may constitute as discrimination under The Americans with Disabilities Act.
However, tests crafted for specific roles or team building exercises can offer opportunities to build cohesive work environments.
“People are very biased, we tend to make assumptions about others all the time,” Wolfe says. “When used in the right way for team building…you get to see your teammates in a different light and change some assumptions you may have about them.”