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, while the latter are investigating the reasons some employees fail to meet expectations. One reason for both is that poor personality fits can lead to clashes, misunderstandings and communication issues. 

Fit, according to recruitment agency Hays Canada, is a combination of four indicators — work ethic, social behaviour, office conformity and the ability to connect with a team’s working style. Both recruiters and employers use a variety of tools to test personality characteristics and indicators to add up “good fit” factors.

Assessment Tools

Here are a few of the popular personality tests currently in use.

1.      The Caliper Profile

This assessment measures personality traits, from assertiveness to thoroughness, that relate to the 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.      Gallup StrengthsFinder

This personality test relies on responses to several statements and 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.      Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Approximately 80 per cent of new hires at Fortune 500 companies and several other companies use this tool. 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,” which is 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?”

The verdict

Are all of these personality tests equally effective? Experts say that certain types of assessments are more useful than others. In a 2015 Business Insider report on, Paul Gorrell, Ph.D., founding principal of the development firm Progressive Talent cautioned that “all the hiring tools are good for employee development — but not all the development tools are good for hiring.”

For example, unlike some of the others, the Caliper Profile examines both the positive and negative qualities to provide insight into what motivates a person. And, there are limitations with the largely popular MBTI test. This test is designed to determine innate preferences but employers could miss out on potential candidates who might excel in a given position because of the test. There are also concerns that the nature of the responses may lead to hiring biases against women and other groups.

Previous Article
How to be a Great Team Player
How to be a Great Team Player

There is a strong emphasis on the value of teamwork in Canadian workplaces. Here are three ways to integrat...

Next Article
Understanding the Labour Market – Resources to Get You Started
Understanding the Labour Market – Resources to Get You Started

Understanding the Canadian labour market will help you to make well-informed decisions about your career, a...