3 Traits Personality Assessments Can't Reveal

Lena J. Weiner, August 18, 2014

Personality testing is a common tool used to predict a job candidate's potential within a given role—but there are some traits no test can adequately uncover.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), one of several assessment tools used by HR to evaluate job candidates, has about as much validity as a BuzzFeed quiz.

It's "utterly meaningless," according to science reporter Joseph Stromberg, who wrote about the MBTI for Vox last month.

Many HR departments depend on personality tests, including the MBTI, to gauge a candidate's ability to sell, his openness to new experiences, leadership potential, or likelihood of fitting into an organization, among other things.

Nick Fabrizio, principal consultant with the Medical Group Management Association, prefers behavioral interviews to personality tests—but not all of his clients agree. "I have two for-profit healthcare system client that use personality testing," he says.

"They use the tests to make hiring decisions. Sometimes, they use them as a first cut, to screen out the first round of applicants after a first interview." He's seen both MBTI and the Big Five Personality Test used in these inventories.

As for what his clients are looking for, "It all depends on the job," he says. "If it's a physician who has to be more sales oriented, they assume introverts might not do as well in that field. But, if they're doing data analysis, that might be a fit."

But there are certain things that standardized personality assessments can't reveal.

Lena J. Weiner

Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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