Does Your Personality Fit the Job?

Lori Johnston | August 22, 2011

If you think the tests stop once you have your degree, think again.

But one test that’s becoming more common in the job application process often has nothing to do with what you’ve learned in college.

It’s the personality test, which companies are using to help determine job seekers’ behavior and work style.

The Wall Street Journal reports that: “More than 80% of midsize and large companies use personality and ability assessments for entry and midlevel positions as either pre-employment or new-employee orientation tools.” The stat is from Development Dimensions International, a global human-resources consultancy. You’ll find the tests in industries such as health care, technology, finance, operations, and retail, the WSJ reports.

These assessments have been widely used in retail positions but are quickly spreading to other industries, including finance, technology, health care and operations.

If you’re taking one as a job applicant (Msnbc.com reports that this is happening even before the initial email or phone interview, when folks apply for a job online), the results could help a company determine your chance of succeeding or failing in a certain job. While this is a company decision, when you’re searching for a major, it may be worthwhile to take a personality test (even common ones like those by Myers-Briggs) to make sure you have the personality to be in a particular industry.

But some groups are concerned that the tests could discriminate against mentally disabled job candidates. CVS, for example, agreed to remove statements that candidates were required to respond to, including “You change from happy to sad without any reason” 
and “There’s no use having close friends; they always let you down,” after the Rhode Island ACLU filed a complaint with the state Commission for Human Rights.

Yes, you need to know the subject and how to do the job, but the use of personality tests show that it’s not just the degree that makes a job candidate.

-Lori Johnston

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