A personality test is a screening tool used to identify an applicant's personality or characteristics which are related to potential work results. The personality of an employee is likely to have an impact on how that employee communicates and performs in the workplace.
An employee's optimistic personality can raise the entire staff morale, resulting in improved efficiency and performance. A personality test uses assessment and questions to identify potential strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. Today, most of the researchers have found positive impact about the role of personality test in selecting employees. The most widespread popular test is BigFive personality traits, which are used to describe behavioural traits that may capture up to 75 per cent of an individual. These factors are -- Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Emotional Stability.
Emotional stability refers to balance of various features like anxiety, anger, stress, worry, hatred, hopelessness, inconsideration, depression, and thoughtlessness of any individual. It is expected that employees scoring high in emotional stability showed higher continuance commitment. Past studies revealed that they are highly motivated by and strongly attracted to hygiene factors, such as job security, benefits, pay and work conditions. Organisations that promote more positive emotions at workplace are likely to have more productive employees. Workplace behaviours are affected by emotional intelligence including innovation, service quality, and task achievement, timeliness, meeting deadlines and employee's commitment. Employees exhibiting this type of personality has chances to become more effective leaders.
Extrovert people are social, assertive, active, upbeat and talkative. It indicates how outgoing and social a person is. A person who scores high in extraversion on a personality test is expected to enjoy being with people, participate in social gatherings, and are full of energy. They are more likely to emerge as a leader. A person low in extraversion is less outgoing and is more comfortable working by himself. Different jobs require different levels of extraversion. A high level of extraversion may be useful for jobs that require a great deal of interaction with other people, like public relations, teaching, sales, etc. Positions that are more focused on working independently and alone may be more suited to individuals with a lower level of extraversion.
Conscientiousness is the most important factor for finding and retaining employment. University of Illinois psychologist Brent Roberts said, "Highly conscientious employees do a series of things better than the rest of us.” Conscientious people tend to be super organised, responsible, hard-working and plans ahead to be more efficient in their endeavours. Conscientiousness personalities are better job performers, so the rate of turnover will be less. They are always ready to work and pay attention to achieve the goals of the organisation.
An employee who exhibits agreeableness is more likely to be loyal, trustworthy and honest towards his/her organisation. It is used to describe the level of friendliness, kindness, cooperativeness, and politeness a person reliably displays. These employees are more valuable as a team member. Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability and Extraversion --these three traits have the strongest correlates with overall job performance.
Openness indicates how creative, imaginative and intellectually curious a person is. In a personality test, an individual with a high degree of openness is likely to try new stuffs. These types of employees can think out of the box and do something creative and strategic for the organisation. Having a high level of openness is important in jobs that require creative thinking and a flexible attitude. Jobs which involve advertising, researching, practicing art, etc. are better performed if individuals have high openness. An individual who scores low in openness on a career test may excel in jobs that involve routine work and do not require creativity.
There is widespread acceptance regarding the validity and utility of personality test selecting right candidate. It, however, has some criticisms. For example, an individual's personality may change over time as they become more experienced. So, a personality test at one point of time may not be the right tool to test a candidate's merit to work for an organisation. Aptitude tests, cases to implement theoretical applications in real world, face to face interviews at different management levels, etc. are at times rated higher than personality test.
Apart from the criticisms, studies suggest that employees are more successful in circumstances where personality tests go hand in hand with work requirements.
The writer is currently doing her MBA at North South University. She can be reached at [email protected]