Personality Testing Grows in the Workplace
All of the speakers of the following statements have something in common.
“We want to develop a process that balances sales and operational roles of our bank tellers.”
“We are creating an executive succession program.”
“We hire armed security guards.”
“We have five job families that we consistently recruit for. We want to get better at selection.”
What do they share? The answer is an interest in personality testing for their workplaces.
Such testing has achieved an admirable growth rate in these no-frills times, according to William G.
Harris, Ph.D., executive director of the Association of Test Publishers (ATP): “We do a survey of
members every year. Those who participated in employment testing over the last three years reported
10–15% growth per year.” (ATP, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit association for
providers of tests and assessment tools.)
Indeed, the Internet search service Overture reported about a thousand Internet searches in
November 2002 alone on various phrases that mean “employee personality test.”
Employers find applications for personality tests both before and after the hiring process. Harris
believes the majority of this testing, however, takes place before hiring. “You have to look at why
most companies do testing,” he says. “First, it’s to get a candidate who’s likely to succeed in the job.
Second, to find a fit with the organization. Third, to find attributes that are likely in a good employee
who will stay.”
According to Harris, profits can be influenced directly by hiring decisions that are based on pre-
employment testing. “The retail industry has for a very long time used testing at the pre-employment
level to measure a tendency among candidates to be less than honest. After all, one of the major
factors that can ruin a retail business is internal theft,” he says. “That type of assessment has
continued to be a strong part of the testing business.”
Was there any impact from September 11? Harris observes