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Personality in the Workplace: Why It’s Important & 5 Tests To Measure It

July 27, 2015

8:00 am

In today’s work world, managers and HR professionals want employees who bring more to their organization than work-related skills. It’s the employees who are engaged and loyal to the organization that succeed and move up through the ranks, and personality assessment technology is making it easier than ever to track them down.

Now, managers and HR pros can assess their team members and find out who has the personality traits that succeed best in their organizations and who possesses the shared values that build loyal, engaged employees.

Is personality really that important?

In April 2014, global learning institute Hyper Island released results from its survey of more than 500 CEOs, managing directors, hiring managers, and employees in the tech, communications, and business development industries. The results paint an interesting picture of the importance of personality in today’s job market.

Hyper Island found that 78 percent of respondents felt that personality was the most important aspect when it comes to hiring, even over a candidate’s skill set (38 percent). When asked which personality traits were most important, respondents listed drive, creativity, and open-mindedness as traits they are looking for in new hires.

So why is personality so important?

The right personalities can make your business more successful

Moving people with the right personality through your organization can positively affect every aspect of your business. As Virgin Mobile CEO Richard Branson put it, “Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality.” Because of this, matching your employees personalities with the right roles early on can set them — and you organization — up for success.

Putting employees in roles that do not fit their personalities can nurture the kind of lower employee engagement that, according to Gallup, results in 21 percent lower productivity, 22 percent lower profitability, and an average of 45 percent higher turnover.

When used as a tool for screening your current employees for leadership and managerial positions, psychometric tests help you avoid these issues. The tests allow you to focus your energy on the employees who will succeed and save you countless wasted HR and managerial hours during the review process.

Psychometrics are the key to understanding an employee’s personality

When it comes to the “how” of finding the right personalities in your office, psychometric tests are an organization’s best tool. Sure, hiring managers can rely on a hunch during hiring, and managers can take that into account later, but personality testing provides standardized, reliable information that helps organizations decide whether or not an employee is a good organizational fit.

Here are five personality tests that organizations can, and should, use to make sure their employees are the right ones for the job:

1. Myers Briggs

One of the most well known tools for mapping employee personalities, Myers Briggs (MBTI) assessments describe an employee’s tendencies toward: Extraversion vs. Introversion, Intuition vs. Sensing, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving. Results from these tests place the employee into one of 16 personality types, which each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Although personality type doesn’t predict success on the job, knowing a new hire’s personality type can help you to understand whether they’ll be a cultural fit for your company, as well as guide you toward integrating them effectively with the team.

2. Big Five

The Big Five are the five broad dimensions of personality that most researchers in the personality testing community use when evaluating a person’s personality. For organizations, where an employee falls on the range for these five traits (Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Neuroticism) can provide great insight into how a new hire — or current employee — interacts with co-workers, manages work-related stress, deals with managerial decisions, and more.

3. Occupational Interest Inventories (OIIs)

In organizations with multiple positions and different career paths, occupational interest inventories can be effective tools for putting employees in the right roles. These tests, like the Holland Code Career Test, measure how interested a participant is in different tasks and roles. They also provide insight into the career interests of that participant. OIIs are especially effective for increasing employee retention when administered to current employees to determine what their role in an organization should be.

4. DISC Behavior Inventory

Understanding an employee’s work behavior style can be important, especially when it comes to team building. Used frequently in larger organizations, the DISC classifies candidates into four different “styles” based on questions about their behaviors at work. It helps organizations find out more about a candidate’s tendencies toward: dominance, influence, support, and control.

5. Situational Judgment Tests (STJs)

If you’re looking to see how an employee interacts with customers or handles the pressure of common challenging situations, consider using STJs as a part of your evaluation process. STJs put your employees in realistic, simulated situations to find out which pre-loaded responses the employee feels are most or least effective. Tools like FurstPerson’s customized hiring solutions are especially effective for determining whether or not employees will make good customer service representatives.

Personality is the key

It’s not just that personality is important in retention and team building; it’s integral.

Consider what personality traits are important in your organization and how you can take advantage of personality assessment technology to build more effective teams. Whether that’s working with a test vendor or having employees take free tests and discussing the results, incorporating personality testing into your employee-evaluation process can save time, energy, and money for your organization.

Do you use personality testing in your employee evaluation process? What other tests do you use?

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Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity, developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment and other scientifically validated, user-friendly personality assessments that connect people with powerful insights about their strengths, talents, and traits.

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