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The Complete Guide To Personality Tests For Recruitment

- 17 Apr 2020 by Yehezkiel Faoma Taslim
Updated 27 May 2020


Finding talent that perfectly meets expectations is like looking for a needle in a haystack.


In fact, recruitment itself often feels like a guessing game because even after resume screening and multiple interviews, recruiters still can’t be 100% sure if this candidate is the one. Only after they’re hired that we can see if they’re not a good fit — by then it’s too late. Ask the 33% of new hires who decided to quit after only six months when they realized they didn’t match their new jobs.

So the problem is that interviews and resume screening alone aren’t enough to tell us about our candidates. But here’s the good news: personality tests can make it possible to find the right talents that actually meet expectations.

A good personality test can tell you if a candidate is really the right one for your company, and it can tell you early on in the recruitment funnel.

If you’re just getting started in personality assessments or looking to deepen your understanding about its applications in hiring, then you’re in the right place. This complete guide contains all you need to know about personality assessments and how they can help you discover the right candidates and avoid hiring the wrong people.

Let’s begin.


Understanding Personality Assessments

1. The Basics of Personality Assessment

2. Uses of Personality Assessments in the Company

3. The Importance of Personality Assessments

4. Types of Personality Assessments

5. Validity & Reliability: Which Test to Choose?

Applications in Your Company

6. Manual vs. Online Personality Tests

7. Interpreting Personality Test Results

8. [Sample] Job-Specific Personality Facets for Sales

9. Is There a “Best” Personality Type?

10. Can You Cheat In a Personality Test?

Final Thoughts

11. Should You Make Your Own Assessment?

12. Dream5: Personality Assessment by Dreamtalent


Understanding Personality Assessments in The Complete Guide To Personality Tests For Hiring by Dreamtalent.


1. The Basics of Personality Assessment

Let’s start by understanding the fundamentals of personality assessment, especially in the context of hiring: definitions, how it works, and its role in recruitment.

  • What is personality?
  • Why test for personality?
  • What is personality?

What is personality?

Personality is the collection of an individual’s characteristics and traits that determines behaviors and attitudes. No two personalities in the world are truly the same, and they are relatively permanent and unchanging in nature. This explains why everyone has different tendencies in acting, thinking, feeling, and responding to situations in and out of work.

Personality tests or assessments are classified under a discipline called psychometrics. Psychometrics is concerned with the measurement of human psychology (psychology + metrics). Personality measurement is one of the major components in psychometrics, the other being cognitive (intelligence) measurement.

Why test for personality?

The business world is already familiar with personality tests. Today, requiring candidates to complete some form of personality assessment is considered a staple, and there's a good reason behind this trend: personality affects performance.


Research found that personality has a direct impact on job performance.


Research in industrial-organizational psychology has asserted that personality fit has a direct impact on work performance. Personality fit looks at how an individual’s personality matches the job and the company culture. An extroverted candidate might perform better in a sales position compared to introverted people, for instance.

In the past, getting a read on candidate personality fit was often no more than gut feeling. Today, personality assessments allow recruiters to quantify and measure this previously “hidden” quality, to identify the most promising talents early in the pipeline, and filter out the least fit candidates before it’s too late.

Skill, intelligence and experience remain important factors in candidate quality, but companies have realized the equally important role of personality fit in determining candidate success in their new position.

Skills, intelligence and experience remain important factors of candidate quality, but in today’s Industry 4.0 jobs change and evolve ever so rapidly. This is why companies put more importance in potential rather than skills alone, and this potential for performance is what we can find out by looking at the fit of candidates.

2. Uses of Personality Assessments in the Company

The insight and data gathered from personality assessments has a variety of uses in your organization. It is invaluable for decision making in processes that involve people, which is what your company is made of.

  • Recruitment
  • Training and development
  • Appraisal and promotions
  • Team dynamics

Recruitment

Recruitment is the biggest reason why personality tests are famous with organizations. Besides being a tool to filter out candidates, recruiters have realized the ability of personality tests to discover candidates’ hidden strengths.

In hiring, personality tests are employed as a… test that candidates have to pass alongside skill-based assessments. This helps recruiters to spot candidates who don’t fit the job or the company culture from the start, and avoid making bad hires.

More sophisticated personality tests can tell you the strengths that candidates have, not just what they’re missing. It’s possible that good talents get rejected just because they flop the initial interview. Personality tests let you know if a candidate is actually creative and hard working even if introverted and reserved, which explains their interview performance.

Better yet, personality tests make it possible to redirect instead of reject. If a candidate is not fit for the position they’re applying for, but the data shows great potential for success in a different position, a personality test can easily turn a rejection into a star candidate.

Training and development

From personality data, HR specialists can learn about the strengths and weaknesses of individuals, teams, and even entire departments, especially regarding “soft skills”. This information proves useful in identifying the right training programs to address what your talents actually need.

Apart from gap analysis, personality tests also drive strength-based development by focusing on the unique strengths of each individual, like leadership, creativity, emotional stability, etc. and improve that to enhance their specific roles in a team.

Appraisal and promotions

Seeing that promotions are basically internal recruitment, it’s clear that personality assessments are useful here. By measuring the fit between personality and the new position, we can predict the performance of candidates and promote the one with the highest potential for success to the new office.

Appraisals for mapping and forecasting also make use of personality tests. They assist the organization in identifying the required personality aspects to fill a vacant position, and to determine the job rotation that would best suit an employee based on their personality fit.


Personality tests are also useful for promotions, appraisals, job rotations, and team composition.


Team dynamics

Last but not least, personality assessments are a vital tool in examining team dynamics. The different personalities of each member can make or break the team. The key to building a great team is making sure these personalities get along and complement each other’s strengths.

Google’s Project Aristotle discovered that clearly identifiable roles are one of the key aspects in making an effective team. Besides technical roles, we should also pay attention to the different psychological roles that team members have.

5 psychological team roles according to Winsborough & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2017. The 5 psychological team roles are Results Oriented, Relationship Focused, Process Oriented, Innovative & Disruptive, and Pragmatist.

Source: Winsborough & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2017

For example, the members in a team may be leaders or relationship builders, rule followers or risk takers, etc. A team full of only leaders would be problematic, and a team full of risk takers would need someone to keep them in line. From personality tests, we can learn about the different personalities of potential members and build a balanced, effective team from this information.

3. The Importance of Personality Assessments

The purpose of personality tests is simple: to make recruitment more accurate. In the past technical skills alone were enough, but today’s jobs demand more of the “human” in human resources.

Recruiters are looking for people whose personality fits the nature and nuances of specific jobs, who would complement the team’s strengths and weaknesses, and would fit into the company’s unique culture. Talent with good fit is a company’s greatest asset, but poor fit could spell disaster. This is where personality assessments come in.

  • Fit determines job performance
  • Understanding candidates beyond the interview
  • Objective and bias-free hiring

Fit determines job performance

When we talk about fit, we refer to person-job fit which describes how well a person matches their job. More specifically, P-J fit can be divided into job fit and culture fit. They both rely heavily on having the right personality to match the work itself and the workplace.

How important is job and culture fit in hiring? More than 90 studies over a period of 30 years say that fit is a vital factor in candidate quality. Ehrhart and Makransky in 2007 consolidated the findings and found that good fit is positively correlated with high levels of job satisfaction, commitment to the company, and job performance.


Good personality fit equals high commitment and performance. Poor fit equals stress and turnover.


On the other hand, poor job and culture fit makes employees stress out and want to quit, resulting in poor performance. This also leads to increased costs in recruitment due to higher employee turnover (Lovelace & Rosen, 1996) which is very expensive.

In 2013, Frank Schmidt compared the effectiveness of different selection tools in predicting future job performance. His research discovered that the most effective method is the multi-measure test — a combination of personality tests, intelligence tests, and structured interviews with over 70% chance of accurately predicting job performance. Without personality assessment, interviews alone drop the predictive validity to .51 — that’s a 49% chance to get a wrong hire.

The predictive validity of different selection methods in hiring, from Frank Schmidt, 2013. The selection methods are multi-measure test, cognitive ability test, structured interview, integrity test, work sample test, emotional intelligence test, personality test, and job experience. Multi-measure test has the highest predictive validity coefficient at 0.71.

Source: Schmidt, 2013

If the predictive validity of personality tests alone looks quite low, this is because they are never meant to be solely relied upon. Personality tests must be used in conjunction with other recruitment assessment tools. Personality tests are important because, when used together, it’s able to push up the accuracy of hiring more than any individual assessment tools. Read more about it in Chapter 7.

Understanding candidates beyond the interview

In an earlier example we illustrated how a candidate’s hidden strengths may not show in interviews. Vice versa, an interview that goes well could be hiding a candidate’s red flags, if not accompanied by hard data from a personality assessment.

When hiring for a driver position, Peter Gasca was charmed by a candidate’s ambition, enthusiasm, and persistence shown in the interview. Seems like a perfect candidate, no? Well, after only 3 (three) days within hire, the new driver quit via phone and abandoned the car, with merchandise inside, in the middle of some highway.

Though some interviews try to become objective (e.g. structured interview, behavioral evidence interview) all interviews are always influenced by the interviewer’s subjectivity. This is why we need a personality assessment to provide data-driven confirmation. If they claim to be a good leader, a test will measure their score in the leadership scale. If they claim to be a team player, a test can back it up by measuring their altruistic and competitive tendencies.

This is known as behavior prediction. The aspects of human personality can predict candidate behavior at work and work-related situations: in doing tasks, facing challenges, resolving conflict, etc. By enabling recruiters to really know their candidates deeper as an individual, personality assessments provide valuable information to make confident, data-driven hiring decisions.

Objective and bias-free hiring

Discrimination and bias has no place in recruitment. Unfortunately, it could still happen in hiring practices without us even realizing it — it’s called unconscious bias. An easy example is how we form opinions from first impressions alone, like when we tend to favor a candidate because they have a similar personality with us.

The bias could impact our judgement on the candidate positively or negatively, but certainly unfairly and the impact is quite costly. And unconscious bias is rooted deep in our psychology, so human error is bound to happen when evaluating candidates.

But what if it’s not a human who evaluates candidates?

Technology-based personality assessments are a potent tool in eradicating bias in recruitment. After all, algorithms can’t be biased. Valid and reliable personality assessments give recruiters the data to make fair and accurate hiring decisions based on science, not opinions.

4. Types of Personality Assessments

There are many different kinds of personality tests developed over the years. In this guide, we will discuss the 3 most prevalent personality measurement tools used by companies: the Big Five, MBTI, and DISC.

  • Big Five Personality Model (OCEAN)
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • DISC

Big Five Personality Model (OCEAN)

Overview

The Big Five Personality model is also known as the Five Factor Model or its acronym OCEAN. This model measures personality from 5 factors: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Each of these factors are divided into aspects, which can be further broken down into specific facets.

Research in personality has gone on for decades and brought different perspectives, so the Big Five was developed to become the descriptive model to make sense of the various findings. Dream5, the personality assessment in Dreamtalent, employs this model as its theoretical basis.

Since its inception in 1961, the Big Five has been regarded as the best and most complete framework of human personality according to the consensus of researchers and psychologists worldwide (Digman, 1990; Corr & Matthews, 2009). This is why organizations favor the Big Five over other personality measurement tools to use in recruitment.

Measurement

In the Big Five, every personality factor is measured in a continuum. This emphasizes an individual’s unique personality tendencies and avoids oversimplification by grouping. So instead of saying you’re an introvert, the Big Five tells you that you are 70% introverted, which acknowledges the reality that you have a 30% extroverted side.

This is the accurate way of describing personality because there is no such thing as a 100% extrovert or introvert. We all lie somewhere in the middle of the continuum. What makes us different is that we lean closer towards one side, while still maintaining some aspects of the opposite side.

The Extraversion continuum in the Big Five Personality Model. The continuum is more accurate because it doesn't oversimplify personality using a binary measurement.

Here are the 5 personality factors measured in the Big Five:

1. Openness

Openness is the interest to learn and accept what is beyond the ordinary. It reflects the willingness and ability to adapt to new concepts and situations. It involves curiosity in two respects: intellectual (philosophy and abstraction) and experiential (imagination and the arts). Because of this, this factor is often called Openness/Intellect.

The Openness factor in the Big Five Personality Model. Its aspects are Intellect and Aesthetic Openness. Its facets are Ideas, Actions, Aesthetics, Fantasy, Feeling, and Values.

2. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness represents responsibility, vigilance, and productivity. This factor measures an individual’s tendency to fulfill obligations, be planned and organized, and driven to achieve goals. Out of the five factors, Conscientiousness has the highest correlation with actual job performance.

The Conscientiousness factor in the Big Five Personality Model. Its aspects are Industriousness and Orderliness. Its facets are Achievement Striving, Competence, Self-Discipline, Deliberation, Dutifulness, and Order.

3. Extraversion

Extraversion measures how an individual’s energy responds to social settings and stimulation. Contrary to popular belief, Extraversion is actually much wider than the stereotypical shy-versus-outgoing characteristic, and includes the thresholds of excitement and activity levels.

The Extraversion factor in the Big Five Personality Model. Its aspects are Enthusiasm and Assertiveness. Its facets are Gregariousness, Positive Emotions, Warmth, Excitement-Seeking, Activity, and Assertiveness.

4. Agreeableness

Agreeableness measures interpersonal orientation, specifically an individual’s tendency to lean towards competition or collaboration. This personality factor determines if a person would care about other people’s wellbeing, or if they see others as a competition and would rather prioritize themselves.

The Agreeableness factor in the Big Five Personality Model. Its aspects are Compassion and Politeness. Its facets are Tender-Mindedness, Altruism, Trust, Compliance, Modesty, and Straightforwardness.

5. Neuroticism

Neuroticism measures a person’s stress tolerance and mental strength.This factor looks at how someone would respond to stress, namely if they are prone to maladaptive coping mechanisms, vulnerable to negative and anxious thoughts, and their control over impulses and temper.

The Neuroticism factor in the Big Five Personality Model. Its aspects are Volatility and Withdrawal. Its facets are Angry Hostility, Impulsiveness, Anxiety, Depression, Self-Consciousness, and Vulnerability.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Overview

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a very popular personality test. You can find it everywhere from social media to everyday conversation where individual personalities are categorized into “types” arising from 4 dichotomies, such as INTJ or ESFP.

The MBTI was created in 1944 by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers based on the theory proposed by Carl Jung. Neither of them were formally educated in psychology, and both were only self-taught in psychometrics, though Myers did seek an apprenticeship with a bank personnel manager to learn basic statistical methods before working on the MBTI.


Despite its popularity, there is overwhelming proof that the MBTI is not a valid or reliable personality measurement tool.


Despite the widespread criticism and lack of evidence for the validity and reliability of the MBTI as a psychometric tool, it continues to be a popular personality test to this day, especially for casual and recreational use. Even then, many organizations maintain the usage of MBTI as part of their recruitment test.

Measurement

The MBTI groups people into 16 personality ‘types’. These types are derived from 4 dichotomies measured by this tool: Extraversion-Introversion, Sensing -Intuition, Thinking-Feeling, and Judging-Perceiving.

As opposed to a continuum, a dichotomy suggests that if you are one thing, you cannot be another. For example, if the MBTI tells you that you’re an Extrovert, it’s suggesting that you can’t be the least bit introverted. This is not accurate because not only a 100% extroverted personality is unrealistic, but all of us possess tendencies towards either side.

In addition, the tendency to classify the complex human personality into only 16 ‘types’ raises questions regarding the MBTI’s ability to accurately and reliably measure personality (see the table in Chapter 5).

An example of the MBTI personality type test. Its dichotomies are Extrovert Introvert, Intuitive Sensing, Thinking Feeling, and Judging Perceiving.

Here are the 4 dichotomies measured in the MBTI:

1. Extraversion-Introversion

The MBTI concept of extraversion is similar to that of the Big Five. Extroverts tend to seek outwards in actions and interaction, while Introverts tend to seek inward with thoughts and introspection. Extraversion here also acknowledges that extroverts ‘recharge’ their energy in social activities, while Introverts do the same during me time.

2. Intuition-Sensing

These are psychological functions that explain how someone gathers information. Intuition-type personalities tend to prefer information gained from implicit patterns or underlying principles, while the Sensing-type prefers to trust data that is tangible and look for details.

3. Thinking-Feeling

These are psychological functions that explain the decision making process using information gathered earlier. The Thinking-type tends to make decisions from a logical, detached, and impartial standpoint, whereas the Feeling-type bases their decisions on empathy, harmony, and the impact on people.

4. Judging-Perceiving

Judging and Perceiving a person’s attitude towards the outside world, and generally how they behave in day-to-day life. Judging-type personalities prefer to make plans, be organized, and get closure. Perceiving-type personalities tend to be spontaneous and stay open to opportunities before making decisions too early.

All 16 personalty types in the MBTI personality test. The personality types are ISTJ, ISTP, ESTP, ESTJ, ISFJ, ISFP, ESFP, ESFJ, INFJ, INFP, ENFP, ENFJ, INTJ, INTP, ENTP, and ENTJ.

DISC

Overview

The DISC assessment is actually a behavioral assessment tool, not personality. It measures 4 points called behavior areas: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Like the MBTI, an individual would be assigned to one of 12 profiles depending on their results.

DISC was published in 1928 based on the theory by William Marston. Aside from being a Harvard PhD graduate, Martson also played a part in the creation of the polygraph (lie detector) and Wonder Woman. DISC was later developed into a behavioral assessment tool by Walter Clarke, an industrial psychologist.

As an assessment tool, DISC scores well in validity and reliability. However, it is not predictive — it’s even stated so in a DISC website. This means the DISC is incapable of predicting a candidate’s future performance or rate of success. Ira Wolfe (2011) wrote that the Big Five can accomplish the job much better. Additionally, DISC measures behavior, not personality, and behavior alone is not a good predictor of work performance.

Measurement

In DISC, human personality is visualized as a circle. Each of the 4 behavior areas make up a quadrant, and your personality would end up in a point somewhere in that circle, being closer towards one or two quadrants. Like darts. Then, depending on your position, you will be categorized into one of 12 profiles.

Like the MBTI, DISC has a tendency to classify human personality into only 12 archetypes. This raises concerns about the DISC being oversimplified, incomplete and inadequate as a psychometric measurement tool.

Here are the 4 behavior areas measured in DISC:

1. Dominance

Dominance illustrates assertive, determined, and competitive behaviors. Individuals of the D-type tend to be motivated by winning over others and taking on challenges with success. They are confident and driven to achieve the best, though they may be seen as insensitive or insecure about their vulnerabilities.

2. Influence

Influence illustrates charismatic, persuasive, and social behaviors. People with the I-type often tend to be popular and highly value social recognition and building relationships. Maintaining their social presence and influence makes it tricky for them to make difficult decisions that may have social consequences.

3. Steadiness

Steadiness describes calm, supportive, and empathetic behaviors. Those of the S-type are motivated by acts of kindness, cooperation, and the opportunity to help others sincerely. They put much importance in harmony and stability, which makes them averse to change and vulnerable to being overly accommodating.

4. Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness in DISC is somewhat similar to that of the Big Five. This behavior area is described as careful, systematic, and organized. C-type individuals are motivated by producing good work results, and their work tends to be more accurate and of higher quality. However, they are often limited by over-analysis and inability to deal with criticism.

All 12 personality profiles in the DISC personality assessment. The personality profiles are D, DI, DC, I, ID, IS, S, SI, SC, C, CD, and CS.

5. Validity & Reliability: Which Test to Choose?

With so many choices, it can be difficult to decide which assessment to use in your recruitment. The best way to gauge the quality of personality tests is by looking at their validity and reliability.

  • Understanding validity and reliability
  • Comparing Big Five vs. MBTI vs. DISC
  • Normative vs. ipsative personality tests

Understanding validity and reliability

Validity examines if an assessment truly measures what it claims to measure. To become valid, a personality assessment must measure personality, not something else. Thus, high validity indicates that the items (questions) in a test is relevant to the test’s purpose.

Reliability looks at the consistency of test results. Reliability is achieved when you take the same test twice under similar circumstances and get similar results. Therefore, high reliability shows that the test results are accurate and can be trusted.

The definitions of validity and reliability of psychometric measurement tools, including personality tests. Validity means: are you aiming at the right target? Reliability means: are your shots precise to your aim?

An illustration of validity and reliability as points or shots on target boards. It shows cases where personality tests are reliable but not valid, valid but not reliable, and valid and reliable.

Image source: Columbia University

Comparing Big Five vs. MBTI vs. DISC

Having understood the meaning of validity and reliability, let’s evaluate the quality of the 3 personality assessment tools discussed earlier: the Big Five, MBTI, and DISC using these two criteria.

For this comparison, let’s go deeper into the concept of validity and look at predictive validity, which is one of the many types of validity. Predictive validity checks if the current results from a measurement tool corresponds with actual results in the future. A personality test is predictively valid if its personality results are able to predict future job performance accurately.

Comparison of the validity and reliability of personality tests: Big Five, MBTI, and DISC. The Big Five Personality Model measures 30 variables in a continuum scale, offers unique or infinite possible combinations of results, is valid, reliable, and has predictive validity. The MBTI measures 4 variables in a dichotomy scale, offers only 16 limited results, not valid, not reliable, and doesn't have predictive validity. DISC measures 4 variables in a quadrant scale, offers only 12 limited results, is valid, reliable, but doesn't have predictive validity.

Big Five

The latest study conducted by John Johnson (2014) proves that the IPIP-NEO measurement tool, which uses the Big Five model as its theoretical basis, is valid and reliable with the reliability coefficient ranging from 0.70 to 0.94. Another study by Roberts, Martin, and Olaru (2015) found that the different constructs (factors, aspects, and facets) in the Big Five are clearly differentiated. They also wrote that its results are universal — they stay consistent and aren’t affected by time, culture, and context.


There is overwhelming evidence that the Big Five is valid, reliable, predictive, and better compared to other personality frameworks.


Numerous studies have brought evidence that the Big Five is proven in its capability to predict candidate performance, job satisfaction, training effectiveness, organizational behavior, and many other aspects of work. This evidence explains why researchers and managers alike consider the Big Five to be the best personality framework compared to the others.

The correlation between the Big Five Personality Model and job performance, organizational citizenship behavior, and counter productive work behavior from Roberts & Olaru, 2015. Conscientiousness has the highest positive correlation with job performance and organizational citizenship behavior. Agreeableness has the highest negative correlation with counter productive work behavior.

Source: Roberts & Olaru, 2015

MBTI

According to Randy Stein and Alexander Swan (2019), the consistency of the MBTI is based only on the perception of the respondent with how the results match them. This makes it difficult to scientifically evaluate the validity and reliability of the MBTI using other verified measurement tools, thus rendering the MBTI to be not valid and not reliable.

Additionally, the MBTI does not display the right framework to measure personality. Due to its internal contradictions and lack of validity and reliability, the MBTI cannot be used to predict individuals in the future.

[...] the MBTI assessment is designed to be descriptive, not predictive.

- The Myers-Briggs Company

The Myers-Briggs Company even wrote in their white paper that “the MBTI assessment isn’t designed to predict who will be most successful in certain occupations” since it was intended to be merely descriptive.

DISC

While the DISC is found to be valid and reliable, researchers at Envisia Learning (2018) were skeptical of the DISC’s ability in measuring the effectiveness and success of individuals at work. This is because they only recognize 4 dimensions (quadrants), which is considered incomplete and inadequate in offering a holistic view of human personality.

Ira Wolfe, HR and recruitment expert, wrote in 2011 that the DISC is less effective in predicting job success, mainly because it measures behavior, not personality. Behavior itself is a poor predictor of future job performance. This is even confirmed in a DISC website, stating that it is “not a predictive assessment” and “not recommended for pre-employment screening”.

Further Reading: Soto, C. J. (2018). Big Five personality traits. In M. H. Bornstein, M. E. Arterberry, K. L. Fingerman, & J. E. Lansford (Eds.), The SAGE encyclopedia of lifespan human development (pp. 240-241). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 

Normative vs. ipsative personality tests

Personality tests can be differentiated by two main types, namely normative tests and ipsative tests (Cattell, 1944). The difference between normative and ipsative tests are what they compare the test takers to.

  • Normative tests compare individuals to other people.
  • Ipsative tests compare individuals to their own selves.

Which type is appropriate for hiring?

For hiring purposes, a normative test should be used because it allows comparing candidates with each other. Using anything other than a normative test would cause recruitment errors and risk hiring people who don’t fit the job, would perform poorly, or even quit early.

Normative tests

A normative test measures an individual’s score for each psychological attribute in comparison to other people — for example, comparing an individual’s scores to the general working population. This means it’s an inter-individual assessment (comparing people with other people). A normative test answers questions such as:

  • How assertive are you compared to others?
  • How extroverted are you compared to others?

Normative tests are the perfect tools for recruitment and selection because it allows comparing candidates to see which is the best among them. They are useful for predicting performance and identifying which candidates are most likely to be successful in specific jobs.

Most of the personality assessments based on the Big Five are normative in nature. This is why Dream5 is built upon the Big Five to deliver the most accurate and relevant results for recruitment purposes.

Ipsative tests

An ipsative test measures an individual’s psychological attributes without comparing them to others. This means it’s an intra-individual assessment, which only compares an individual to their own self, answering questions such as:

  • Which attributes are most dominant in you?
  • Which values are most important to you?

Ipsative tests can be used for training/development or self-discovery, since they only compare the psychological orientations or tendencies within oneself. But they cannot be used to compare an individual with another, so ipsative tests aren’t recommended for selection and hiring.

MBTI and DISC are ipsative in nature. They are useful for situations where you don’t need to compare an individual with each other, but shouldn’t be used for recruitment, where comparison between candidates is the whole point.


Applications Of Personality Tests In Your Company in The Complete Guide To Personality Tests For Hiring by Dreamtalent.


6. Manual vs. Online Personality Tests

How would your recruitment process look like if you use a personality assessment? There are two ways you can deploy your personality tests: manual or online. Depending on how you do it, personality assessments can be as easy as take test → hire, or it can make your recruitment pipeline more complicated.

Here’s a summary:

Comparing the time required to perform manual personality tests (pen and paper) and online personality tests. Manual personality tests take a total of 11 days: 1 day of test preparation, 7 days of test administration, 1 day of manual scoring, and 1 day of test and result interpretation. Online personality tests (such as Dreamtalent) take a total of 1 day: 1 day of test administration, instant algorithmic scoring, and instant result interpretation.

  • Manual personality tests
  • Online personality tests

Manual personality tests

A manual personality assessment is where human involvement is required in processes that can be done by automation or algorithms, like administration, data entry, data organization, etc. This makes manual tests more prone to human errors and inaccuracies.

The data flow of manual personality tests is unoptimized. Physical paper results are highly susceptible to damage or loss. The data, being difficult to access and organize, is left unused and wasted.

Here are the steps involved in the typical manual personality assessment:

1. Test preparation (1 day)

You need to spend time preparing the physical personality test material: buying the licensed test paper (or printing them yourself), booking several rooms to accomodate candidates, scheduling admins and invigilators for test day, etc.

2. Test administration (7 days)

Since candidates have to actually come and sit down, chances are rooms will be booked for multiple days. Throughout this period, you will administer the test to many candidates in batches (especially for large recruitment waves) supervised by invigilators.

3. Manual scoring (1 day)

After the test papers are filled, you must score each test one by one and input the numbers into a spreadsheet program like Excel (it’s still manual because you’re doing the data entry). Even with multiple people in your recruitment team, this will take a while.

4. Test & result interpretation (2 days)

Getting candidate scores is one thing, but it’s another to interpret those results. The recruitment team will need to allocate a couple days to meet and make sense what these numbers mean, and what they can possibly say about the candidate’s personality and potential performance on the job. This step involves a lot of calculations and discussions with your recruitment team.

Total: 11 days


Online personality tests

An online and digital personality test is where the human element is largely required only for decision making. Components that don’t require judgement are handled by automation and algorithms. This frees up the recruiter to focus on making decisions and reduces the frequency of human error, since algorithms don’t make mistakes that humans do.

Apart from saving time and focus, the advantage of online personality tests is that the data is fully optimized. Results are saved in a centralized and secure cloud storage, easily accessed and processed by the system, so that the data can be used for other purposes besides recruitment: promotions, appraisals, team dynamics, and much more.


Online personality tests optimize the data for use in other applications outside of recruitment.


To illustrate how an online and digital personality assessment is done, we’ll look at how Dreamtalent works in your recruitment pipeline:

1. Test administration (1 day)

All the recruiter needs to do is invite candidates via email and set the deadline. The candidates will then complete the assessments online without having to come physically to a room.

The full psychometric assessment in Dreamtalent takes about 1.5 hours, so it can be completed in a single day no matter how many candidates you have.

2. Algorithmic scoring (instant)

The moment the candidate clicks “Finish”, their answers are automatically calculated and the scores are instantly produced. Since we use the Big Five model, the results in the personality assessment will be displayed in a continuum. For example, a candidate will be shown to lean 70% closer towards Extraversion, but also shows a 30% tendency for Introversion.

3. Result interpretation (instant)

Most online assessments don’t only give you numbers; they also offer an explanation of what those scores mean. In Dreamtalent there are detailed psychometric reports that give full descriptions of a candidate’s personality. This includes the ideal tasks, jobs, work environment, and work culture for each individual.

Finally, the results of our assessments include a final hiring recommendation. In the end, online and digital personality assessments are designed to be decision support systems, and it will be humans (you) who make the final call, based on data.

Total: 1 day


Note: estimated time required only covers assessment and interpretation, and does not include time to hire, onboarding, etc.

7. Interpreting Personality Test Results

How would you exactly use the results of personality tests in your recruitment process? There have been misunderstandings as to how to read and apply these results (such as leaving everything to the personality test alone). Let’s talk about how to properly interpret and use personality assessments to make better decisions for hiring.

  • Use as a complement
  • Self-reporting considerations
  • [Sample] Interpretations in Dreamtalent

Use as a complement

Do not just rely on personality tests and nothing else. Personality tests are never meant to be used alone. Instead, they should be used as a complementor to interviews, intelligence tests, resume review, and other selection methods. Personality tests are an important part of a collection of assessments to ensure the accuracy and quality of hires.

Let’s look back to the graph in Chapter 3. According to psychologist Frank Schmidt, when used separately, individual selection methods perform rather poorly. But when used side by side as a multi-measure test, personality assessments boost the predictive validity to over 0.71 — even higher than intelligence tests alone.


Personality test results should not be read in isolation.


So the proper way to interpret personality test results is not to read them in isolation. Recruiters should cross-reference a candidate’s personality with their interview performance and cognitive abilities. After all, skills and experience remain necessary to do a job well. Personality is all about finding the fit to those skills and experience into the right job and company culture.

The predictive validity of different selection methods in hiring, from Frank Schmidt, 2013. The selection methods are multi-measure test, cognitive ability test, structured interview, integrity test, work sample test, emotional intelligence test, personality test, and job experience. Multi-measure test has the highest predictive validity coefficient at 0.71.

Source: Schmidt, 2013

Self-reporting considerations

Personality tests are self-reporting in nature. Their questions are about an individual’s preferences and perceptions. Unlike intelligence tests, people could be exaggerating or under-reporting in personality assessments, consciously or unconsciously. Their response depends on how candidates see themselves.

This phenomenon is called social desirability responding (SDR) or social desirability bias, and it happens in all personality assessments. The good news is Dreamtalent has taken measures to address and reduce SDR in our assessments in order to maintain our result accuracy.

To get into the details of SDR and how Dreamtalent addresses it, check out Chapter 10 of this guide.

[Sample] Interpretations in Dreamtalent

The personality assessment in Dreamtalent (titled Dream5) offers detailed descriptions of an individual to accompany numbered scores. This gives a better idea of what the numbers means, and helps recruiters to use this information better in conjunction with interviews and other tests.

Personality test result interpretation in Dreamtalent, showing the "Persona" of the test taker. This is J.K. Rowling the Stargazer, and the description is as follows: You have a powerful imagination and wild creativity. You can imagine the wildest things to the finest detail that it feels real, like the world of Harry Potter created by J.K. Rowling. Oftentimes you're so deep into your imagination that you find yourself daydreaming as you come up with new and creative ideas.

Personality test result interpretation in Dreamtalent, showing detailed personal descriptions. Generous: You are selfless and take pleasure in helping others, expecting nothing in return. You’re always happy and ready to give help to anyone that needs it, even to total strangers. Prudent: You always humble yourself and never claim yourself better than anyone. You don’t feel comfortable as the center of attention regarding your abilities, so you often lower yourself and avoid discussing it if not asked. Philosophical: You love learning about new, abstract, and wild concepts and ideas. You have an endless curiosity and desire to explore complex questions that challenge your intellect and mental exercises like riddles and quizzes. You put a high regard for the importance of knowledge.

8. [Sample] Job-Specific Personality Facets for Sales

Specific jobs require not only its own set of skills, but also a specific personality in order to ensure good fit and performance in candidates. For instance, an accounting position requires someone who follows rules strictly, but that kind of personality won’t fit in design jobs where you have to think outside the box.

From our research in Dreamtalent, we have built several job-specific personality “templates”. We took a bunch of jobs, analyzed the nature of their tasks and requirements, and discovered the personality facets required to succeed in such jobs.


Every job requires specific kinds of personality facets for the best fit.


As an example, here are the job-specific personality facets required for candidates to perform well in sales, measured in our Dream5 Personality Assessment. Just from the list, we can picture that sales require determination, sociability, and emotional stability. This gives us a clearer idea of what sort of candidate would be the right fit for it.

  • [Conscientiousness] Ambition
  • [Conscientiousness] Discipline
  • [Extraversion] Togetherness
  • [Extraversion] Friendliness
  • [Neuroticism] Self-Perception

Ambition

This facet is found under Diligence (Big Five equivalent: Conscientiousness). Ambition is the drive and motivation to reach success and deliver the best possible results in your tasks. Someone with this facet would always strive to go above and beyond expectations and continuously set higher standards for themselves.

Ambition is required here because sales is a demanding, result-oriented job. There are targets and quotas that must be met regularly. Someone high in Ambition would be motivated by the challenge and tend to deliver high quality results.

Discipline

Discipline is another facet under Diligence, illustrating the ability to push through difficulties and see a task to its completion. This facet indicates the initiative to start a task, the willpower to resist distractions, and the determination to overcome challenges or even failure. Discipline allows an individual to persevere in difficult tasks without giving up easily until it is finished.

This facet is highly relevant in sales, a job known for being highly challenging even for the experienced. Discipline is an important personality facet to look for in your sales candidate to make sure they won’t be demotivated after the inevitable rejections.

Togetherness

Togetherness is a facet in Extraversion. This facet measures your preference in being in large crowds and the center of attention. A person with high Togetherness would feel energetic and motivated when surrounded by many people — basically the more, the merrier.

It’s quite obvious to see how this facet should be a staple of salespeople, given the highly social and people-oriented nature of the job. Candidates will have to be comfortable in — and motivated by — dealing with lots of people, meeting new ones, catching up with clients, etcetera in order to succeed in sales.

Friendliness

In summary, Friendliness measures how easily someone can make friends. This facet under Extraversion measures how positively you react with people you just met. Those who score high in Friendliness would be warm and amicable towards strangers, and it’ll be easier for them to build a relationship, which is a vital aspect in sales.

Candidates with a high enough Friendliness score would be able to give a good first impression to clients and make people feel comfortable talking with them, enabling them to build relations and contacts quickly and easily.

Self-Perception

Self-Perception is a facet under Mood (Big Five equivalent: Neuroticism). It measures how positively an individual views themselves. If you score high in Self-Perception, you’re likely to be confident and not easily embarrassed or offended by other people’s opinions.

In sales, you will be rejected, ignored, and face harsh words on a daily basis. Without the necessary confidence, it’s easy to be demotivated. Measuring candidates for Self-Perception allows recruiters to identify which candidates are likely to be able to face this challenge.

9. Is There a “Best” Personality Type?

Short answer, no. You’re asking the wrong question in the first place. There is no single surefire personality type that will perform great in all situations. With intelligence, it’s more sensible to say that higher IQ suggests better performance in any job. But you can’t say the same for personality.


There is no “best” or “worst” personality, only good fit or poor fit with the job.


Why? Because unlike intelligence, personality is a continuum. It’s not about reaching higher numbers like IQ, but it’s about finding out where you are positioned in the continuum. In personality, low scores aren't always bad — it means you’re getting higher scores on the other side of the continuum. Low Extraversion simply means high Introversion, vice versa.

The Extraversion continuum in the Big Five Personality Model. The continuum is more accurate because it doesn't oversimplify personality using a binary measurement.

  • Best fit, not best personality
  • Redirecting vs. rejecting candidates

Best fit, not best personality

Some may think that a few personality factors would always be desired for any job, such as high Conscientiousness. While that factor has the highest correlation with work performance, its facets are still job specific. Some jobs like accounting require high Cautiousness, but too much would only be slowing down in jobs that require you to move fast and be adaptable, like sales.

Thus, the right question would be: is there a best personality type for a specific job and a specific company culture? At this point, we’re no longer talking about the “best” personality, but rather the personality with the best fit.

Redirecting vs. rejecting candidates

Just like there is no “best” personality for all jobs, there is also no “bad” personality type. Rather, it’s a lack of fit. That personality would be more fitting for a different job that requires different behaviors.

Earlier in Chapter 2 we briefly mentioned redirecting candidates instead of rejecting them. When a candidate shows great skill and potential, but their personality fit is lacking with the job they want, would you rather let them go or redirect their talent to where it would fit best? 

Have the candidate take a job forecasting personality test to see which positions would fit their personality best, where they would feel fulfilled and can utilize their skills to the utmost. By understanding candidate personality fit, you can turn a rejection into a valuable asset for your company.

10. Can You Cheat In a Personality Test?

Virtually no self-reporting assessment is 100% foolproof. Just like how people can falsify their resume and lie through the interview, you can technically do the same in a personality test. But like fake resumes, they will get found out eventually when their actual behavior doesn’t reflect what they reported in the personality test.


No personality test is 100% foolproof, but we can employ measures to discourage, prevent and detect SDR to make tests more accurate.


Still, we’re trying to avoid faking in personality tests in the first place rather than finding out when it’s too late. The good news is there’s a way to do that, and it has something to do with a phenomenon called social desirability responding (SDR) that we briefly covered in Chapter 7.

  • What is social desirability responding?
  • Types of SDR
  • How Dreamtalent reduces SDR

What is social desirability responding?

Social desirability responding is the tendency for respondents to pick the answer that would make them look good in front of others (i.e. socially desirable) instead of the honest answer that truly describes them. They tend to “over-report” (exaggerate) on positive items and “under-report” (downplay) on negative items. This dishonest responding can give an inaccurate reading on an individual’s personality.

SDR is especially prevalent if the test is “high-stakes”, such as applying for a job. Naturally, candidates would want to give the “correct” answer in order to secure an offer. This can be a conscious decision but can also happen unconsciously.

Consider items like “I always arrive on time” or “I tend to work hard”. These items are too obvious in what they measure (Conscientiousness) and candidates would almost always answer “Strongly Agree”, because they perceive that it’s the answer the recruiter is looking for.

Types of SDR

SDR comprises multiple dimensions, 3 of which are measured in Dreamtalent.

Social Desirability Bias: Tendency to over-report positive answers and under-report negative items. Self-Deceptive Enhancement: Unconscious tendency to perceive self with a positive bias to increase self-esteem. Impression Management: Tendency to inflate self description to look better in front of an audience.

How Dreamtalent reduces SDR

We recognize the challenge that SDR presents to recruiters. Though no self-reporting assessments will be 100% foolproof, Dreamtalent employs features and measures to reduce the likelihood of SDR occuring and detect SDR if it does occur, in order to ensure the quality of our assessment results.

Semantic differential scale

The self-reporting personality assessment in Dreamtalent is delivered in the semantic differential scale. This means that the items are worded in a casual and easily relatable way, which is more engaging and less tiring to the respondent while also obscuring what is being immediately measured.

For example, instead of “I’m always ready to help others”, our items are worded like “You’re broke, but your friend asks to borrow some.” By sounding like an everyday scenario, candidates can relate to it and answer honestly as if they were really in that scenario in their daily lives.

Interactive and lightweight UI

Dreamtalent has a gamified and interactive UI that improves the candidate experience while taking the personality assessment. We incorporate elements like picking a book cover that relates to you best, or liking one of two social media posts that you agree with. You can try it out here.

The UI in Dreamtalent is lightweight and gamified in order to improve the experience of the personality test taker. It features a sleek design, images, and mock social media posts.

A gamified and lightweight personality assessment is more engaging to candidates compared to the serious-looking pen and paper test. This interactive medium helps to reduce the “stakes” of the personality assessment in Dreamtalent, and coupled with the casual wording of items, contributes to the reduction and prevention of SDR, both consciously and unconsciously.


Final Thoughts on personality tests in The Complete Guide To Personality Tests For Hiring by Dreamtalent.


11. Should You Make Your Own Assessment?

Many large organizations have opted to create their own personality assessments for use in recruitment — because they can afford it. While it’s not impossible, building your own personality test from scratch is a monumental effort that requires a lot of investment and commitment in time and resources in order to make a valid and proper assessment.


Building a valid and reliable personality assessment from scratch is a monumental effort that involves a lot of investment and risks.


Let’s go through the process involved in creating a personality assessment, the risks of using non-legit tests, and why most companies realize that it’s simply more effective to leave the work to specialist psychometric test providers.

  • How to build a personality test
  • Costs and risks of making your own tests

How to build a personality test

Creating a psychometric measurement tool is no small feat, and this includes personality tests. It all begins with years of studying and getting at least a master’s degree in psychology and/or psychometrics, the title of psychologist (who are the experts in human behavior), or a bachelor’s degree but with a lot of experience.

This is a simplified process of how we researched and developed our measurement tools here at Dreamtalent. It shows the important steps involved in making a personality test from scratch, and doesn’t include the rigorous statistical testing, searching for thousands of samples, getting it wrong and doing it all over again, and the many years of toil and calculations to finally produce a valid and reliable measurement tool.

1. Test Conceptualization

Form a plan or concept of what kind of assessment tool you want to make. What do you want to measure? What is the purpose of your test? Which framework would best serve this purpose?

  • Literature review
  • Theory review

2. Test Construction

After the conceptualization and theoretical basis is solidified, you may begin constructing the actual test itself. This includes writing the items and building a scoring system.

  • Scale creation
  • Item creation
  • Scoring system

3. Test Tryout

Once the test construction is complete, the prototype must go through multiple rigorous statistical tests to ensure its readability, validity, and reliability.

  • Readability tests
  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Testing for Cronbach’s alpha

4. Item Analysis

Then, the items (questions) in your assessment must be tested to ensure their quality and ability to measure and differentiate individuals.

  • Factor analysis
  • Testing for corrected item-total correlation

5. Test Revision

Then, the flaws and gaps in your assessment will be revealed after the tests. It’s time to design and implement revisions and test it all over again until your assessment tool meets the criteria for real world use.

  • Item revision
  • Scale revision
  • Scoring revision
  • Theory revision

6. Norming

That was only making the measurement tool. Only after all that is done can we begin with norming in order to effectively and correctly categorize and interpret the scores.

...and much more.

Source: Cohen & Swerdik, 2005

Costs and risks of making your own tests

The costs

First of all, you need a dedicated team of researchers and psychologists if you’re serious in building your own personality assessment. Your team must be qualified to design a psychometric tool, which requires a PhD to act as the validator.

Assuming this team works on building the test full time, it will take years to even get a tolerable prototype working. Dreamtalent alone has gone through over 3 years of research and development and that process is never stopping as we get new data and improve and expand on our measurement tools.

Apart from that, the team needs to drive pilot tests, focus groups, and gather thousands of data samples to conduct their research, and this usually includes providing compensation to the test subjects.

The risks

Sometimes companies may be tempted to skip all the statistical hassle and simply copy down items from a personality test book in the bookstore or somewhere online and call it a day. This is not the correct way to create a personality test, academically and legally, and the test will not be valid and reliable.

A personality test that is not valid and reliable will give results that are not valid and reliable. In fact, a poorly made test would give results that may mislead recruitment in their decision making. At this point, it may even be better to not use a personality test at all rather than one that misleads you.

More importantly, the legal implications of a poorly made personality test are serious. Apart from copyright infringement issues, an assessment that doesn’t meet the criteria may be discriminating against candidates, even if unintentionally. All countries including Indonesia have laws that protect people from discrimination in hiring.

Therefore, companies find it much simpler to simply leave personality assessments to the experts. Psychometric assessment providers like Dreamtalent have already done all the research and testing for you, and the validity and reliability of the test and results are ensured, so companies can make the full use of a powerful and predictive personality assessment tool without having to make one from scratch.

12. Dream5: Personality Assessment by Dreamtalent

The personality assessment in Dreamtalent is called Dream5 and it was built for one purpose: to help recruiters discover the right candidates whose personality best fit the job and company culture. Besides avoiding bad hires, Dream5 lets recruiters reveal the hidden strengths that lie in a candidate’s personality, which may otherwise not show up in the CV or interviews.

This is how Dream5 measures candidate personality and processes the data into information ready for use in decision making:

  • Dream5 overview
  • 6-point Likert and semantic differential scales
  • Continuous validity and reliability studies
  • Matching personality with culture
  • Indonesian flair

Dream5 overview

Our personality assessment is built upon the Big Five model. Dream5 measures 5 dimensions of personality, which branch into a total 30 facets of an individual. These dimensions closely mirror those of the Big Five since we found them all to be highly relevant, and they are further refined and developed in the Dream5 to better fit the purpose of recruitment.

The personality framework in Dream5, the personality assessment by Dreamtalent. Dream5 measures 5 personality factors closely mirrored to the Big Five: Exposure, Extraversion, Mood, Diligence, and Cooperation. Each factor houses 6 facets, bringing a total of 30 facets of personality.

6-point Likert and semantic differential scales

In the Likert scale, also called rating scale, respondents answer questions by rating how much they agree or disagree with the statements. In Dream5, we use a 6-point Likert scale which offers no neutral/middle option. This is sometimes called the “forced choice” method which pushes the candidates to really think and pick the answers that truly reflects their personality.

As mentioned before, Dream5 also employs the semantic differential scale. Instead of the old Strongly Agree - Strongly Disagree scale, the items and answers are worded in a casual, realistic, and easily relatable manner. This not only lowers the “stakes” of the personality assessment, but also engages the respondent into answering truthfully as if they were in the actual scenario.

Semantic differential scale in the Dream5 personality assessment. This question asks "Second place is...". The answers are "Still a trophy!" or "Just the biggest loser."

These scales are invaluable in reducing social desirability responding (SDR) and central tendency (picking neutral answers) as pointed out by Rungson Chomeya (2010), which increases the accuracy and reliability of the results in Dream5.

Continuous validity and reliability studies

Validity and reliability are the proof of the quality of a psychometric measurement tool. For Dream5, we use the factor analysis method to test for validity, and the Cronbach’s alpha method to test for reliability (with a focus on internal consistency). The standard for a personality test is 0.20 factor loading for validity and 0.700 Cronbach’s alpha for reliability. In our latest study, Dream5 scores in a range between 0.77 - 0.91 on validity and 0.742 - 0.875 on reliability. This proves that Dream5 is a valid and reliable personality assessment tool.

But the study doesn’t end here. As our database grows and items are revised and improved, validity and reliability studies will be undertaken on a regular basis to monitor and improve the quality of Dream5 as a personality assessment tool for recruitment.

Matching personality with culture

Dream5 doesn’t only measure candidate personality for job fit. What makes it different is that Dream5 also analyzes the fit between personality and the culture of the company. Both job fit and culture fit are important aspects of Person-Job Fit, which determines the performance, commitment, and motivation of candidates.


Dreamtalent doesn’t only measure candidate personality fit with the job, but also with the culture of your company.


Once the company representative (usually a manager) completes the culture assessment, our system analyzes the data and tells recruiters how well candidates fit the company culture. This helps recruiters find candidates who not only fit the job, but also the organization they will work in.

Indonesian flair

The items and answers in Dream5 are adapted to better fit the norms and culture of Indonesia, which adds a distinct local flair to the personality assessment. This makes our test especially more relevant for assessing candidates in Indonesia for recruitment.

All assessments including Dream5 are offered in Bahasa Indonesia. Dual language assessments including English are currently under development.

Congratulations!

Congratulations on making it to the end of this guide! By now, you've learned almost all you need to know about personality tests for hiring. If you're ready to experience the benefits that personality assessments can bring to your recruitment, check us out at Dreamtalent and get your free 14-day access to a powerful and predictive assessment tool today!


Get your free Dreamtalent trial today! Personality assessments, intelligence tests, powerful recruitment tools at www.dreamtalent.id





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