American psychologist and author Adam Grant has famously described the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, arguably the most commonly used personality assessment, as being somewhere between a horoscope and a heart monitor in terms of accuracy. Unfortunately, many employers misuse personality tests to make significant human-resource decisions, from who to hire to who to promote.
Personality testing is a $500-million industry, with one in five Fortune 1000 firms using these tools to screen job applicants. While insights can be gained from many of these assessments, employers should proceed with caution in using personality tests to make meaningful human-resources decisions.
As Whitney Martin, a measurement strategist at ProActive Consulting, writes in Harvard Business Review, the most accurate personality assessments measure stable traits, are normative in nature, have a score assessing the respondent’s candidness, and have high reliability to predict job performance. The “Big Five” personality test and its variants are often praised by experts. The tool was based on extensive scientific research of the five personality traits – extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness – that were found to exist across many different cultures.