Why Pre-employment Skill Tests Deliver Better Results than Personality Tests


You probably already know that pre-employment tests are important to filter through the pool of job applicants to find the best candidates, but what you might not know is if you don’t choose your pre-employment tests carefully, they are going to do more harm than good. The wrong choice of tests might waste your organization’s money and you may end up turning out the right candidates.


Pre-employment assessments can provide relevant information on a job applicant’s ability to perform in the workplace. Which is why as the first step test selection becomes so crucial, because if the test does not measure job-related capabilities, then the basic purpose of screening is lost.

With so many tests on offer the question is what type of tests should you administer to candidates for your hiring decisions? and what tests you should avoid… First of all, you should carefully find out the skills that directly correlate to job performance. If you are thinking of personality tests, think again…

Personality tests are popular and widely used. But except for some exclusive positions, I really wonder if they are anything close to predictors of job performance. You can easily find out that Personality tests don’t score well on any of the factors that determine the quality of a pre-hire screening test. There are some serious questions on their, validity, reliability, job-relatedness, and predictive accuracy.


Let’s see what the research says:

1. A research by SIOP suggests that personality tests often show very small relationships with measures of job performance, according to Frederick P. Morgeson, a Valade Research Scholar and Professor of Management at Michigan State University.

2. Another research found “Correlations between personality and job success to fall in the .03 to .15 range, which the authors note is “close to zero.” To put these correlations in perspective, personality tests used in employee selection account for approximately 5% of an employee’s job success while the other 95% of their performance is unaccounted for by personality. Interestingly, the .15 correlation is almost identical to what was noted in the 1960’s, meaning there has been no measurable change in the data for the 50 years.”

3. Many academic research studies have found that “MBTI is no more reliable than a Tarot card reading or horoscope. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Academic studies have concluded that individual personality traits have at most a small connection with performance.”

4. A research survey conducted with a large service organization that, over a four-year period, screening more than 15,000 candidates suggests “Organizations should be cautious about using personality testing as part of the hiring process. The study shows that failing candidates changed their personality scores drastically between tests, even though adult personality is generally known to be stable.”

So, if research shows they’re not particularly useful, then why are these tests so popular? I think it is simply because they are popular, they are old, and they are easy.

Well here is a better explanation from The New York Times for the popularity of these tests. It suggests that people may simply like taking the test. The products, particularly Myers-Briggs, have been superbly marketed. Also, the test brings a sense of certainty to our lives. Need to hire a customer service superstar? Easy – find an ISFJ. Do you need to add a great public speaker to your team? Track down an E. When there are only 16 types of people in the world, and we can quickly profile individuals with a 45-minute test, it creates the illusion of a simple solution to an issue that is actually very complex – human behavior.

A lot has been talked about the problem of personality tests but companies sure need a way to screen job applicants scientifically. Specific skill assessments come to the rescue.

Specific skill tests such as a Java proficiency test for a Java developer or excel modeling test for a Financial Modeler, can accurately predict their skill proficiency necessary for their jobs. The tests and exercises that are directly related to Job skill are hard to fake and give a strong prediction of job performance. It also gives employers an idea of the training needs of the selected candidates.

Choosing a pre-employment testing solution that provides customized skill tests as well as scientifically designed ready skill tests seems to be the best choice of companies that want high ROI and try to provide a great candidate experience. The tests are valid,  reliable and good predictors of Job performance as they are directly related to the Job skills required for the position.

Rachana Mishra

Growth Officer, Recruitment Evangelist LinkedIn