How Recruiters and Employers Use Personality Assessments


The idea of being a “good fit” in the workplace has become increasingly critical for both prospective employees and employers. The former are seeking career satisfaction and fulfillment, while the latter are investigating why too many of their employees are failing. Poor personality fits can lead to clashes, misunderstandings and communication issues. 

Recruitment agency Hays Canada recently surveyed approximately 2,500 Canadian employees and their employers as part of its “Fit Series” to examine how well people match up with their workplace cultures. According to Hays Canada president Rowan O’Grady, the majority of Canada's working population believes fit is important, but when they investigated further, they learned that few actually know what that means. The recruitment firm advises that fit can be determined by a combination of four indicators: work ethic, social behaviour, office conformity and the ability to connect with a team's working style.

“Fit can be determined by work ethic, social behaviour, office conformity and the ability to connect with a team's working style.”

Assessment tools

Recruiters and employers use a variety of tools to test personality characteristics and indicators that add up to “good fit” factors. In a recent “Business Insider” report at, Paul Gorrell, Ph.D., founding principal of development firm Progressive Talent cautions that “all the hiring tools are good for employee development — but not all the development tools are good for hiring.”

According to, here are a few of the popular personality tests currently in use:

1.      The Caliper Profile assessment measures personality traits, from assertiveness to thoroughness, that relate to key skills needed on the job, such as leadership ability and time management. Candidates select one statement that best reflects the viewpoint most like theirs in a grouping and ranks the "most" and “least” circles on an answer sheet. Sample statements are: “Sometimes it’s better to lose than to risk hurting someone” and “Established practices and/or standards should always be followed.”

2.      Much like the poll of the same name, the Gallup Strengths Finder personality test relies on responses to several statements. The test identifies the top five strengths of a prospective employee. For example, if you rank highly as an achiever, you could naturally excel at executive or high-level manager roles. Sample statements are: “When things get tough and I need things done perfectly, I tend to rely on the strengths of people on my team and don't try to do it all myself” and “I like to help people.”

3.      The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is used by approximately 80 per cent of new hires at Fortune 500 companies and several other companies. The MBTI looks at where you fall in four different dichotomies: sensing or intuition, introversion or extroversion, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. For example you could be an “INTJ” – an intuition/introversion/thinking/judging type. A sample question is: “When dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options?”

Are these personality tests equally effective? Experts argue that certain types of assessments are more useful than others. For example, unlike some other tests, the Caliper examines both positive and negative qualities that provide insight into what really motivates a person.

Surprisingly, though, there are debated limitations with the largely popular MBTI test. This test is designed to figure out innate preferences but employers could miss out on potential candidates who might actually excel in a given position. There are also concerns that the nature of the responses may lead to hiring biases against women and other groups.

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