Personality tests are often used to gain insight into who people are, along with what motivates them. From an employer’s perspective, understanding the personality of a potential hire can shed light on their work style and how they might fit into the company’s work culture.
In this article, we cover some background on eight of the most common types of personality tests used in psychology and how they can be applied in the workplace.
What is a personality test?
Stemming from the field of psychology, personality tests have been used to better understand character traits in a variety of settings—including, if not especially, the workplace. Otherwise, they can be useful for psychological diagnoses by mental health professionals, personal development, or nurturing positive relationships with others. Over the years, an innumerable amount of personality tests have come into popularity, many of which still circulate or are easily accessible online.
History of the personality test
The roots of personality tests are enmeshed with that of psychology emerging as a respected science. Psychology itself traces back to Wilhelm Wundt, the “Father of Psychology,” who first made the distinction between the human personality and the human body during the 19th century. However, the personality test didn’t exist until post-World War I in the 1900s with the Woodworth Personal Data Sheet, which was used to assess psychological trauma in returning soldiers.
Around that time, another personality test that came into popularity was psychoanalyst Herman Rorschach’s inkblot test—better known as the Rorschach test—that’s still sometimes used today in psychology.
8 personality tests used by employers
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to encounter a personality test during the job search. Employers often use different personality tests to understand the character traits of their employees. Pre-employment personality assessments can also be used to estimate the likelihood of success in job applicants. Some of the more common of these personality tests include:
1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Also known as the MBTI, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is often used by companies during the hiring process. Its questions determine where an applicant falls within four key groupings: extraversion vs. introversion, judging vs. perceiving, intuition vs. sensing, and thinking vs. feeling. The results of these groupings place test-takers into one of 16 personality types. With 93 questions in all, it’s a fairly long assessment.
2. Caliper Profile
The Caliper Profile measures how the personality traits of an applicant or employee correlate to their performance in their work role. This personality test is frequently used during employment screenings.
When taking this test, you’ll answer questions in various formats, the most common of which presents a set of statements and asks you to choose which most aligns with your views. Other question formats include true or false, multiple-choice, and degree of agreement scale.
This assessment looks at both the potentially negative and positive qualities of a candidate to provide a wider picture of how they would perform in a role. It can also be customized to target specific behaviors that are particularly important to a certain job or function.
3. 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire
In 1949, Raymond B. Cattell, Maurice Tatsuoka, and Herbert Eber published the first version of the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire, also called 16PF, though it has been revised over the years. It helps measure behaviors in individuals and has many applications, including career development and employee progression. The types of personality traits it measures include dominance, rule-consciousness, sensitivity, emotional stability, perfectionism, self-reliance, and openness to change.
4. SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire
The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire, also called OPQ32, provides insight into how an individual’s personality traits and behavior may influence work performance. It includes 104 questions that measure 32 key characteristics, which are categorized into three main areas that impact an individual’s behavior at work: emotions, thinking style and feelings, and relationships with people.
Each question includes multiple statements, and the taker selects the one that describes them most and the one that describes them least. The results come in the form of a customized report for each taker, which describes their strengths and weaknesses in detail, as well as a graphical summary that can be used to compare applicants to one another.
5. HEXACO Personality Inventory-Revised
More than two decades ago, researchers constructed the HEXACO Personality Inventory to assess the various dimensions of an individual’s personality and how they apply their theoretical interpretations to various situations.
It measures six key personality dimensions: honesty/humility emotional stability, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. In the revised version, you can choose from three assessment length options: the full-length (200 questions), half-length (100 questions), and the HEXACO 60 (60 questions).
6. Revised NEO Personality Inventory
The latest version of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory was finalized in 2005. It measures and tests the five main traits outlined in the five-factor personality model: neuroticism, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and extraversion, with each of those five traits breaking down into further subcategories.
For example, the neuroticism trait includes vulnerability to stress, anxiety, depression, impulsiveness, and self-consciousness. Many of the traits it measures are important in the workplace, which has led to an increase in its use as an employment screening tool.
7. Eysenck Personality Inventory
The Eysenck Personality Inventory assesses an individual’s personality based on two key dimensions: neuroticism vs. stability and extroversion vs. introversion. The results include three main scores, rated as “E” (extroversion level), “N” (neuroticism level), and “lie,” which measures honesty in the assessment based on a desire for better scores. The full assessment includes 100 questions, although there is also a shortened version with 57 yes/no questions.
8. DISC personality test
Based on the categories, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance (DISC), this test breaks into 28 statements each with four options for the test-taker to rate how they identify with the statement, ultimately resulting in one of 12 different personality types.
Why personality testing is useful in the workplace
Understanding your character traits can be a powerful tool when deciding your career path. Additionally, this self-awareness could give you an advantage when being assessed by potential employers. Taking a personality test could help you to:
Understand your skills and interests: Having insight into your personality type will shine a light on strengths you can highlight on your resume while also surfacing skills you could potentially improve.
Identify promising career paths: When considering potential training or college majors or possible career shifts, a personality test can help guide your vocational development.
Present yourself positively to employers: Personality assessments may come up during the interview process. It could be beneficial to know your personality type beforehand so you’re prepared to discuss it with your interviewer.
Identify ideal work environments and relationships: In a broader context, you’re probably already aware if you’re more introverted or extroverted, but having a more thorough view into how your personality classifies can help you understand what environments or relationships are most likely to help you thrive.
Be aware of potential challenges in a given work role or environment: Understanding what circumstances are likely to be more difficult can help you to prepare for them or avoid them entirely. You’ll also be able to focus on self-improvement if you’re aware of traits and situations more likely to pose obstacles for you.
I hope you find this article helpful.