Personality Tests

Personality is an individual’s character- that is the unique qualities that make them different from any other person. These traits develop over a long period of time, mostly the individual’s life. Personality tests seek to define these traits. Personality testing was done by early philosophers who came up with for major groups (phlegmatic, choleric, sanguinas and melancholic). With the prominence upon psychology, personality testing has become a major field in many disciplines such as hiring, medicine and even criminology.

There are several types of personality tests carried out among them the 5-factor personality trait. These include openness, agreeableness among other traits. These tests are widely used in psychology research and have helped scientists develop several theories (Eysenck, 1991).

Personality test as a means of employee selection should be discouraged. It is not only invasive in most cases but also subject to manipulation by the individual taking the test. These tests also ignore academic qualifications and introduce a margin of error especially for close-ended tests. Personality tests may also ignore other factors such as stress level.


Potential employees under going the test will try and answer the questions in a way that portrays them positively. Even negative traits may be masked using phrases specifically practiced to appear positive. Honesty usually takes a back seat during these interviews and therefore the true traits will not be discovered until much later.


These are people who tend to keep to themselves. They are shy and usually lack some social graces such as poise or general courtesies such as greetings since they are mostly reclusive. An introvert may not be able to express his feelings or phrase his answers as accurately as an extrovert and this would jeopardize his chances at getting a job he is well qualified for.

Academic qualifications

A major factor to consider when hiring new employees is their academic background. Questions such as relevance of course studied, work experience, research in related fields among others needs to be addressed. A personality test by itself will not give a clear picture as to these factors therefore cannot be adequate for employee selection.

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Invasion of privacy

Personality tests seek to establish a person’s character, feelings and reactions to certain situations and given stress factors. To determine these feelings, some questions which may be personal in nature will be put forward. This may not only put off potential candidates, but will also cause the employee being questioned to become defensive and hinder the interview process.


The mind set of individuals differs. This leads to different ways of understanding and addressing matters. Personality testing based on ideology may weed out candidates who are suited for the task but lack the ideologies of the hiring company. In the long run this is detrimental to the organization as there are no ideas being injected into the organization (Eysenck, 1991). The business world is very dynamic therefore fresh ideas and points of view should be welcomed not shunned.

Other factors

Several factors influence a person’s personality. These include their level of motivation, stress and environment. Any of these may tilt their personality either positively or negatively.

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A person who has a lot of things to worry about will tend not to be as responsive as they usually are. This will influence some of their answers and their mood will be dampening. This may reduce their chances of being considered for a job whereas they may only be experiencing an off day.

Level of motivation

A motivated employee will be very up-beat and have a happy demeanor, as opposed to an employee who is not motivated. Motivated people are more fun to be around and this may tilt the employer’s decision in their favor.


Potential employee may not be totally familiar with the new environment and may not be comfortable to fully express themselves. This will alter their mind set and the way they answer questions.

Selecting employees based on personality tests is therefore not advisable. Depending on the long run objective of the organization -for example; expansion, changing the product line etc- a variety of methods should be employed in the recruitment drive. These methods may encompass personality because team-work is an important element in all organization. However, other factors must also come into play especially academic qualification as well as the ability to be dynamic (McCrae, & Costa, 1990).

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Other methods that may be used either hand in hand with or together with personality testing include

  • Advertising the position in the local dailies.
  • Promoting a member of staff to perform the job.
  • Using job agencies.
  • Head hunting among others.

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