What are your thoughts on personality testing for employment?What are your thoughts on personality testing for employment?

Expert Answers
William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some personality tests can be taken free of charge via the Internet. The best and most popular is the Myers-Briggs Personality Test developed from the work of the great psychiatrist C. G. Jung and described extensively in his book Psychological Types. I believe that everyone could benefit by taking this test and any others that would help to learn more about who he or she is. One can hardly blame employers for wanting to test applicants in order to get people who fit the jobs they have to offer. There are too many people working at jobs for which they are not suited, and this can lead to lifetimes of unhappiness, drinking, divorce, and other ills. If a test can help you decide on a career, you should take that test. They have been improved by psychologists over many years. If a job applicant wants to lie in answering questions on a personality test, it can be done; but the applicant may be the one who suffers by ending up as a square peg in a round hole--a hole that is harder and harder to get out of with the passage of time and the acquisition of spouses, children, and bills. Too many young graduates grab any job they can get and then become "type cast" in the wrong roles. They should be just as discriminating about accepting employment as the employers are about accepting them.

Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am extremely ambivalent about these tests for employment.  When I teach a college strategies course, we do take the Meyers-Briggs test and a multiple intelligences test on-line, as a way to some self-knowledge.  However, as I consider my self-knowledge and knowledge of others, in the classroom, on the job, and in personal relationships, we are missing the boat if we eliminate or avoid certain personality types in any aspect of life because a diversity of personalities provides a balance we would otherwise not have.  For example, my late husband was "P" on Meyers-Briggs, while I am a strong "J."  Since I am someone who would rather make even a wrong decision than no decision, and he was someone who was caught up in the process, rather than the decision, we acted as correctives to one another.  A particular personality can create tunnel vision, which is bad for business.  If we select one type and eliminate another, are we setting ourselves up for problems? 

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In response to #7 posted by speamerfam, I would like to make a couple of points. One is that a company doesn’t necessarily have to have, or want to have, employees all of one psychological or personality type. For example, they would probably have different types in the accounting department than on the sales staff. A person shouldn’t have to starve to death just because he or she belongs to a certain type.

My other point is that Jung himself stressed that married people are often of different but complementary personality types and can have happy marriages. If fact, he seems to suggest that this is the best marital arrangement. The old saying that “Opposites attract” may contain a lot of practical wisdom. There is nothing odd about speamerfam being a J and her husband being a P. A lot of I’s are happily married to E’s, too.



mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Having had to take a personality test for one job in Wisconsin, I found it a rather odd experience.  I found some of the questions repetitive and rather banal.  It really depends on why they are doing the personality test.  If the test is to weed out the drug users or the anti-social personalities, I can understand why business wants to use them.  However, many of the most creative people have quirks and odd habits and personality tests tend to look for the norm, the average answer.   I think that in this world of ever increasing competitiveness, businesses which use personality testing should be using it as one small tool of evaluation, not the one test needed for employment.  In my opinion,  I would prefer not using them at all as I think they are not as reliable as touted. 

cfett eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While I believe hiring someone based on personality type alone is a type of discrimination, I do believe that personality tests do -- sometimes -- belong in the workplace.  For example, it is useful for a company that believes greatly in teamwork to administer personality tests to current and potential employees in order to determine compatibility among employees and likelihood for a personality type to excel or to freeze in a group setting.  It may come across as a bit ironic that something designed to be so personal and individual actually works better for a working group dynamic -- but it actually does.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've taken some tests like that for certain kinds of jobs in the past. I actually found them to be very annoying. The point is to try to identify dishonest people, so the questions are designed to trip you and make you reveal your true intentions. I don't know how accurate they are.

As a manager, I also had to give the tests to prospective applicants, and on more than one occasion I was not allowed to hire certain people that I thought would be good employees based on their test answers. That was much more annoying than actually taking the test itsefl.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many school districts in Texas use a variation of the 'personality test,' and I had to take several when applying for different jobs.  It is unnerving, because certain questions seem more 'right' than others; the bottom line on personality tests is that they help companies find viable candidates out of thousands of prospects.  I predict a rise in popularity of these sorts of tests, especially now when so many applications are completed online and it is so easy to add one of those tests to the battery of steps the company's process involves. 

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that there are both positive and negative aspects of personality testing. For one, many people know exactly what personality tests are. There are ways to "beat" them if one is trying to hide something about their personality. That said, I do think that some employers need to insure that they are hiring the "right type" of people.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It makes sense to me as long as there are identifiable personality traits that you want or do not want to see in your applicants.  So long as these traits exist, it makes total sense to do personality testing so that you do not end up with people whose personalities are all wrong for the job they're applying for.