One of the most difficult elements of hiring is finding the right cultural fit for your organization. While a resume can be run through your applicant tracking system to identify keywords and ensure candidates have the required experiences and education for a position, zeroing in on who the person is and how they might play into your organization’s culture isn’t quite so black and white.

What if you could gain insight into the personality and psychology of candidates early in the recruitment process? Turns out you can.

According to the Society for Industrial and Organization Psychology, personality testing is used by 13% of US employers.

Around the world, more and more businesses are turning to personality testing as an HR tool to evaluate candidates to find the best fit for the opportunity.

Since the screening, interviewing, and hiring process is both difficult and resource-heavy, recruitment rarely leaves more than a few hours’ worth of time to spend getting to know a candidate before making an offer.

Personality testing provides an opportunity for employers to gain insight into job applicants before hiring to allow businesses to make the best possible hires.

What is personality?

Personality is the combination of qualities that make up a person’s character. It’s a blend of the person’s natural dispositions as well as environmental factors and life experiences.

Although you can teach someone skills like, typing, you can’t teach personality traits, though one’s environment can certainly influence certain quirks. If you were describing yourself or another person to someone else, you might use terms like “outgoing”, “competitive”, “funny” or “kind”.

What is Personality Testing?

Personality testing refers to techniques used to accurately and consistently measure personality. When we talk about ourselves and others, we often refer to varying and unique characteristics of an individual’s personality – in fact, it’s something we informally assess and describe every day.

The most well-known and widely used assessment, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is taken by more than 2.5 million people ever year. The theory behind the test is that our behaviors are actually consistent patterns – even if we may perceive them to be random and unpredictable.

The MBTI determines tendencies in four areas: extroversion or introversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving.

So, why use personality testing?

A personality assessment beats traditional methods of gathering information – such as a resume and cover letter. It provides employers with objective insights that improves both recruitment efforts and employee growth and retention. If that’s not enough, consider these five reasons why businesses use personality testing in hiring and retention efforts:

1) A data-driven recruitment leads to better hiring decisions

Personality tests allow you to accurately access important personality traits of candidates, unlike a CV which shows “hard skills” and experiences, or an interview which could give you a hint of a candidate’s soft skills. Through personality testing, you can assess qualities like conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and stability along with characteristics like sociability, need for recognition, leadership orientation, cooperation, dependability, efficiency, even-temperment, achievement striving, self-confidence, problem-solving, and creative thinking.

Combined, these characteristics can provide useful insights about how candidates will behave in a work context and predict job performance and company fit. By using this data to identify and hire the best possible candidate, you’ll also improve your team’s overall productivity and effectiveness.

2) Hiring right helps increase employee quality and retention

The only thing more important than hiring the right candidate is reducing employee turnover and retaining the quality talent already in the organization. Using a personality test as part of your recruiting efforts can help you screen candidates for aptitude and personality while also assessing the likelihood of a candidate staying in the role long-term.

Employees who aren’t the right fit for the role or the company will eventually under-perform in terms of engagement with the role and productivity, making them more likely to leave. Since replacing a bad hire is both expensive and time-consuming, avoiding bad hires is crucial. By using a personality assessment in your recruitment, you’ll reduce costs around hiring and training through data that helps you hire right the first time.

Further into the employee life cycle, you can use assessments like the Fundamental Intepersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO) to improve inter-office relationships and boost engagement.

3) You can assess if a candidate has the right personality for a wide range of jobs

Well-developed personality assessments can successfully predict employee performance across a wide range of job categories. The traits you seek will vary based on the department or industry for which you are hiring.

If you’re looking for senior-level executives, you’ll probably need to assess overall personality traits but if you’re hiring a receptionist, you may be most interested in traits like sociability and/or conscientiousness.

4) Using personality assessments improves candidate screening early in the recruitment process

When you use personality assessments early in the recruitment process, you can improve your selection process significantly. Combined with CV analysis and, later on, with an in-persona interview, the personality assessment becomes in important evaluation tool for businesses to consider when hiring. By applying it at the beginning and not at the end, you can screen out candidates who weren’t going to be a good fit early, making it easier for recruiters to focus only on the most promising candidates in the competition.

5) Evidence-based recruitment increases legal defensibility

If you use a well-designed and reputable assessment in recruitment, you add a layer of legal defensibility to the process. Why? Personality assessments provide objective, scientifically-validated predictors of success for a job, giving employers a better chance to defend their hiring procedures if someone questions the process legality.

For all of these reasons – and many more – businesses rely on pre-employment personality assessments to gain insight into candidates’ personality traits, giving them the best possible understanding of how a candidate’s personality will influence job satisfaction and performance.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick