Personality Testing in the Workplace

Today on The Intelligence podcast, columnist Philip Coggan explores the use of psychometric testing in the workplace.

Companies are relying more and more on these tests when it comes to whittling down job applicants.

Created to place a mark on intelligence, psychometric tests today often focus on the big five personality traits. These are openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Some companies choose to factor these traits among potential new hires during the hiring process.

If you have taken one of these tests, you will know some questions seem easy to game. Who would say no to “Do you like to work hard?” As Coggan points out, tests will ask questions in different ways and seek inconsistencies in search of the truth.

Not limited to new hires, psychometric testing exists within senior management. While an understanding of the big five may bring value, organizations also explore the dark triad personality traits. Thank goodness some companies screen for narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.

Beyond traditional psychology exists bespoke commercial personality testing. Generally classified as pseudoscience, one of the most well-known is Myers-Briggs (MBTI). Often completed with 90+ questions, some have found equal success answering with four.

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