Although I’ve touched on the issue of personality tests before here and here, I was recently interviewed in the December 2007 issue of Law Office Administrator (published by Ardmore Publishing) about some further specifics.
In it, I highlight two important points that employers should consider before using them:
- Why Is the Test Being Used? and,
- Does the Test Exclude Certain Categories of People?
If you don’t know why you are using the test, the obvious followup is how can you possibly use the test effectively if you don’t know why you are using it. Is it to screen out certain applicants? Is it to look for certain intangibles (like team building)?
In addition, you need to understand if the test affects certain classes of people differently. Some differences are okay (you’re trying to distinguish lazy employees from driven employees), but if the test results exclude categories of people in protected classes (older workers, for example), then they should not be used.
Personality tests have been around for a while. I would suggest that one reason why they haven’t become commonplace is that there are too many variables with them for many employers comfort. If you do decide to use them, understand the risks ahead of time.
My colleagues, Ana Salper and Rebecca Brandman, also wrote an article on the EEOC’s recent guidance on personality tests, which I covered a few weeks ago . It’s worth a read.