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Talent Assessment | 10 Min Read

An Ultimate Guide to Personality Assessment

What’s Assessment of Personality?

Personality assessment is the measurement of one’s behavior and is a result of gathering data aimed to advance psychological research and theory. It also enables an increased likelihood of making the right decisions in applied settings ( e.g., in picking the best of the lot, mainly from a group of equally qualified applicants). A personality assessment specialist’s approach is based on the assumption that behavioral variation in humans results from underlying personality trait differences. The assessment specialist aims to explain these traits, to objectively measure these traits, and to relate them to social and behavioral aspects.

A continuous effort to explain human characteristics quantitatively is ingrained in the scientific approach to personality assessment. How much of an individual’s personality trait manifests itself? Which traits are dominant? Quantitative personality assessment is useful for specialists when comparing groups of people as well as individuals. How do groups of people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds differ when taking individual traits or personality attributes into consideration? Personality tests can be used to answer all these questions better.

What is the Importance of Personality Testing?

Conducting personality tests is the best way to categorize traits or different characteristics about which some recruiters might otherwise not be aware. Moreover, this categorization helps to understand how other people might react to something in a specific situation. These tests can be beneficial for meeting such objectives as self-reflection, job placement, and team bonding, among others.

Job Placement

1. Job Placement:

A personality test is an important assessment tool used by employers to help decide on which candidates best suited for specific positions. The pre-employment testing is aimed at revealing underlying aspects of a candidate’s personality and estimating the probability of him/her excel in such a position. For example, if you are starting a new job wherein you will be working as a member of a close-knit team, you might be assessed using a personality test that’ll help recruiters decide how you can best perform in a team. Moreover, if the personality test is thoughtfully designed to identify people who will be satisfied with their job, hiring such people will help increase employee engagement and significantly reduce turnover. 

Group Interaction

2. Group Interaction:

The challenge of getting people to work together, as preferred, is very obvious. It is a human trait to compete as individuals instead of trying to collaborate. In one of his studies, Sigmund Freud has made the comparison of humans to hedgehogs in winters: when the cold becomes unbearable for hedgehogs, they bunch up together for warmth, but then it becomes troublesome as they end up stinging each other with their prickly spines. 

Many leaders make hiring decisions based on functional and technical skills – treating them as indispensable resources or cogs in a machine. Others, wanting to hire like-minded candidates, create a group that lacks diversity. Various companies are, therefore, using personality tests to build effective teams. Such tests can help employers decide the most deserving candidates for their teams. Personality tests can be used as a tool to help dysfunctional teams become more cohesive, allowing each member to work despite their differences at the workplace. Each member would take the same test and share the results with the team. Then, the team members would discuss the results, means of interacting more frequently, and become a unified team. 


3. Self-Reflection:

Taking a personality test can enable improved self-awareness. For example, if a job involves giving presentations and interacting with new people, but the candidate feels a little uncomfortable in carrying out these tasks, knowing that this person is naturally introverted, would help recruiters to make better hiring decisions. Moreover, employers will realize that hiring for culture fit is not a one-off process. If it’s not done thoughtfully, repercussions are inevitable. Personality tests and quizzes also provide insights into how an employee reacts to other team members. For example, people of certain personality types tend to get along better with their fellows. In contrast, those with other personality types can be argumentative and unwilling to accept others’ opinions easily.

Why Do You Need a Personality Test?

A well-written CV and exhibition of a confident demeanor in a face-to-face interview isn’t enough for getting a job. High turnover rates and bad hiring decisions have made it crucial for companies to reinvent their hiring strategies. Ascertaining the suitability of candidates for a specific position, candidates are to be screened, assessed,  and selected innovatively by companies. Recruiters should understand that candidates are to get assessed based on behavioral tendencies and personality in a work environment – personality being the scientifically validated predictor of job performance. This assessment, in turn, will predict whether a candidate will be a top performer or the best fit for the company. The days of relying on traditional methods for gathering candidates’ information are passe. The reason being that recruiters use personality tests to gain objective insights that help companies in securing the right talent.

Personality test unveils most of those aspects of human personality that will help companies to understand their employees better. Employers can get the most out of these assessments, which can help them make informed decisions that may contribute to the success of the organization. There’s nothing better than a test to understand the complexities of interpersonal dynamics and emotional intelligence, making personality assessments critical. Here are some reasons that make personality assessment in recruitment indispensable:

Data-driven hiring leads to better outcomes

Utilizing objective data in the hiring process can work wonders. Personality tests can provide employers standardized insights on candidates’ behavior,  compatibility, and performance. Relying on these insights could be immensely beneficial to companies for talent identification, business objectivity, team building, and employee engagement. Unlike the traditional approach to hiring, a personality test makes it easy for the supervisor to correctly assess any candidate’s core personality traits such as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Moreover, these prominent characteristics of humans also come under the full ambit of evaluation tests: leadership orientation, sociability, consideration, recognition needs, dependability, cooperation, productivity, creative thinking, level-headedness, and self-confidence.

Using a personality test to improve the candidate screening process

Personality assessment is particularly useful in the nascent phase of the candidate screening and selection process. When these tests are used in conjunction with the CV analysis and the one-on-one interview, the recruitment process becomes more streamlined. Using assessments at the onset of the hiring process, and not at the end, helps to filter out candidates that are not suitable for the job. Recruiters can thus zero in on the most promising profiles, identify the potential candidates, and hire the best talent at last.

Using benchmarking to assess the candidate’s performance

Research indicates that a well-conceptualized personality assessment can adequately predict employee performance across a wide range of job categories. What an employer looks for in the candidates may vary, depending on the department or industry being hired. For instance, recruiters may consider the complete personality assessment when hiring senior-level executives, but if they’re hiring a waiter, maybe they’ll check for traits like conscientiousness or sociability. 

Regardless of what traits an employer finds appealing, a normative personality assessment can help organizations in comparing candidates’ scores to understand how a candidate fared against other candidates for the same position. 

Finding the best among the lot is useful for employee engagement and organizational productivity.

As important as it is for companies to hire the right candidate, it’s also essential to focus on employee engagement activities. With employee turnover skyrocketing, it becomes essential for organizations to vet candidates thoroughly, and assess whether they are likely to associate with the company for an extended period, embracing its culture. It is always desirable to ascertain a candidate through cultural fit assessments. These assessments allow hiring managers to measure aspects of a candidate’s personality, such as the knack for learning, personal ambition, ownership and self-motivated, communication skills, integrity, curiosity, empathy, and critical thinking skills, among others. 

Screening for skills during a one-on-one interview can be challenging

Employees that aren’t aligned with the goals of the organization will eventually underachieve when managing the role and responsibility, and thus, are more likely to quit. And it’s quite evident that the cost of replacing a bad hire can be detrimental to the company’s finances. Undoubtedly, finding the ideal employee is an expensive and time-consuming process. The use of personality assessment in recruitment gives fresh impetus to the hiring process by reducing unnecessary screening and hiring costs and using verifiable data to assess the candidate’s overall performance.

A credible recruitment process is legitimate and can easily withstand legal scrutiny

Companies should have a legally defensible hiring process which keeps them immune to penalties and lawsuits. Personality tests following the same guidelines as other hiring selection methods are fully legal and safe to use. Including a reliable and thoughtfully-designed assessment in the recruitment process will add credibility to the process as employers lend more objectivity via scientifically validated assessment predictors in the hiring process. Using such hiring procedures would enable companies to defend their hiring procedures from the legal perspective. 

For all reasons above-mentioned, it is advisable to use personality tests to assess candidates during the recruitment process so that companies can deep dive into the candidate’s personality traits to make the selection process more meaningful.

Personality Type Tests

Here’s a rundown of some of the important versions of these tests:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicato

1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator –

Sometimes, people use terminologies such as INFJ or INTJ to describe themselves, which leaves the majority with the question: “what those letters mean’’? These refer to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality types.   

The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is a type of psychological test that identifies major aspects of a person’s personality, considering his/her personality type, qualities, and inclination. This self-report inventory is a brainchild of Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs and is inspired by Carl Jung’s theoretical works. The MBTI inventory is widely considered to be the most common method of psychological measurement.

The Story Behind the Myers-Briggs Test

2. The Story Behind the Myers-Briggs Test-

It all starts with the story of a mother-daughter duo working on an idea based on Jung’s theory of psychological types. Isabel Myers, along with her mother Katherine, realized the possibility of creating real-world applications using this theory. Amid the Second World War, Myers and Briggs started working on an indicator that could be used to understand psychological differences between individuals. By helping individuals to understand themselves better, Myers and Briggs thought that they could help people in making the right career decisions based on their personal preferences.

In the 1940s, Myers developed the first rudimentary version of the MBTI inventory, and the duo started pilot testing their assessment on near and dear ones. Over the next two decades, they continued working towards the development of this instrument. Carl Jung, a notable Swiss psychiatrist, proposed that four psychological functions that inherently influence how people perceive the world are sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – most of the time a person exercises any of these functions. Along these lines, the test is divided into four categories: Introversion/Extraversion, Thinking/Feeling, Sensing/Intuition, and Judging/Perception. It should come as no surprise if each test-taker exhibits one preferred quality from each category, which would produce 16 unique types.


3. Overview-

Depending on the candidate’s response to the questionnaire, it becomes easy to determine one’s personality from the sixteen personality types.

The MBTI is designed to evaluate candidates’ responses to gain a better understanding of their personalities, not to mention their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, compatibility with others, and career expectations. Labeling any personality type as “better” or “best” is not the correct approach. This tool doesn’t check for abnormality or dysfunction. Instead, it helps you explore untouched aspects of your personality.  

Here Are the Four Types of Scales That Constitute the Questionnaire

4. Here Are the Four Types of Scales That Constitute the Questionnaire-

a) Extraversion (E) – Introversion (I)

The EI concept was first introduced in the Jungian personality theory, referring to the reasons why people interact and respond in a certain way. Even though these terms are not new to many, how these are used makes all the difference. Extraverts, often pronounced extroverts, are action-oriented, socially inclined, and feel happy to interact with other people. On the contrary, introverts are thought-oriented, deep thinkers, and can happily spend time alone. All humans exhibit either introversion or extroversion to some extent, but there’s always an underlying preference for either of these two dimensions.

b) Thinking (T) – Feeling (F)

This scale emphasizes people’s approach to making decisions based on information collected by them using their intuition or sensing functions. People who are categorized as thinkers give particular importance to objective data and factual information. They are known for their logical and unbiased approach while considering a decision. Those people who are more receptive to feelings than thinking consider emotions when concluding.

c) Sensing (S) – Intuition (N)

This scale points to the way humans collect information from the outside world. Humans must rely on their sensing and intuitive capabilities, much like extraversion and introversion. The test suggests that people usually are dominant in either of these two areas. Candidates who tend to prefer sensing possess strong attention to detail and focus on important facts while chucking unimportant details. Those who prefer relying on intuitions are good at finding meaning in impressions and patterns. They can’t stop looking for possibilities, abstract theories, and future potential. 

d) Judging (J) – Perceiving (P)

This scale includes those people who can handle things effectively. Those who tend to rely on their judgment abilities are good at making structured and unwavering decisions. On the contrary, people who adopt a perceptive-oriented approach are open-minded, adaptable, and flexible. Those with the judging preference care for things to be neat, orderly, and well-defined, whereas those with the perceiving preference showcase a spontaneous and flexible nature. 

Each of the 16 personality types is expressed by a four-letter code as given below:


The Myers-Briggs test reveals important aspects of human personality and provides deep insights, which is why an MBTI-based personality test has gained immense popularity in today’s times. Accordingly, the Myers and Briggs Foundation emphasizes that all personality types are equally important. For example, working in a close group at school or work will become even more fruitful by using this test for realizing the positive traits of each member of the group. While performing a group activity, this test proves immensely helpful in ascertaining the particular strengths and talents of each member, which further helps in task allocation and assigning tasks with the utmost ease. This way, team members can work collectively on achieving organizational goals.

Trait Theory

5. Trait Theory-

The next in line is the trait theory, popularly known as the five-factor model (OCEAN model). Today, many researchers believe that five core personality traits are the pillars on which this theory is established. Even though the groundwork for this theory was laid many years ago, starting with the research work of D. W. Fiske, it has been subsequently addressed in the works of Fiske, Norman, Smith, and more. The “big five” categories of personality traits are easy to remember by an acronym OCEAN, which stands for openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Another most commonly used acronym is CANOE, which means conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extraversion.

It is worth noting that each of the big five factors ranges between two extremes. For instance, extroversion represents somewhere on the spectrum between extreme extraversion and extreme introversion. Most people tend to fall between these two extremes. 

Listed Below Are the Big- Five Categories

6. Listed Below Are the Big- Five Categories-

a) Openness

Driven by such characteristics as insight and imagination, people who rank high in this trait are said to have a broad range of interests. Their curiosity, eagerness to learn and experience new things know no bounds. People high in openness are creative and adventurous, whereas their counterparts resist change and are analytical.


b) Conscientiousness

This trait is rich in features like thoughtfulness, goal-oriented behavior, and strong impulse control. People high in conscientiousness are organized and pay strong attention to details. They think well in advance and meet their deadlines effectively. They are more considerate of others than their counterparts.


c) Extraversion

This trait is characterized by features like sociability, assertiveness, garrulousness, high emotional expressivity, and spiritedness. Extraverted people are socially inclined to meet new people and enjoy partaking in social settings. Social interaction makes them feel energetic and lively. Introverted people tend to focus on their inner thoughts, and feelings, rather than sticking to external sources for motivation. They would prefer a period of solitude over a bustling party.


d) Agreeableness

This personality trait is noticeable in individual behavioral attributes that are affection, kindness, trust, and selflessness, among others. An agreeable person is likely to be more altruistic than those who score low in agreeableness. The latter can come across a manipulative and highly competitive person.


e) Neuroticism

This personality trait includes conditions like sadness, mood fluctuations, and emotional distress. People with neuroticism often deal with rapid mood swings, anxiety, melancholy, and short temper issues. People who score low on this trait are said to be more stable and emotionally balanced.


The big five personality test is an accurate, precise measurement of the big five personality traits and won’t take too long to complete. The test-taker can be assessed for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. The interpretation of the test scores can explain how the Big Five model can be applied to life, professional, and personal relationships. 

This scientifically-driven model has made the classification of different types of personality an easy task. It is also very popular among researchers and psychologists. The big five personality test is easy to use, including steps such as rating each statement that well describes the candidate’s personality. However, it is imperative that the candidate rates himself/herself honestly – ratings should be based on how they actually are, not how they would like to be. The ocean personality test is also one way of describing the same trait theory. 

Career Personality Test

7. Career Personality Test-

Career planning is not an overnight thing; it’s a process that requires candidates to understand their skills, interests, and potential. Even though most people find it a bit arduous to define their priorities regarding the kind of profession they want to opt for or their specific interests. That’s where a career personality test comes in handy. This practical assessment helps a person in sorting out their career preferences as in what works for them and what kind of career they’re looking for in the long run. This test can be used for various purposes as given below:

  • Identifying the most suitable careers and professions 
  • Increasing self-awareness 
  • Exploring new areas of career development
  • Understanding organizational structure and process
  • Inculcating team-building skills
  • Leadership Training and development
  • Relationship consultation
  • Education consultation
  • Managing Diversity 
  • Problem-solving

Following are the eligible ones, ideally suited for the test:

  • Working Professionals
  • University and college students
  • Anybody who wants to gauge others’ personality to understand their working style and preferences
  • 11-12th class students

Why Motivation at Work Is Important?

Human personality is the interplay between emotion, motivation, behavior, and thoughts that all combine to shape an individual’s personality. Adding to that, motivation in the workplace is a highly sought-after personality trait because highly motivated individuals are more productive and focused than others. To justify job responsibility practices, employees need the inner drive to excel at work and face challenges head-on from the beginning to the conclusion.  Motivation is also synonymous with other related personality traits such as commitment, accomplishment, and enthusiasm.

Measuring motivation through personality tests isn’t something that hasn’t been practiced before. Usually, personality assessments are not intended to ask questions that should be either labeled as right or wrong. Instead, they are uniquely designed to reveal the most hidden aspects of a candidate’s personality, such as whether he/she possesses the right personality traits related to both performance and compatibility in a given role or position.

Employers looking to hire the best candidates can make the most of personality tests to assess the motivation level of job applicants. Mettl’s learning agility assessment is one personality test tailored to identify high potential leaders for high ranking roles and profiles that include effective strategic thinking. Such tests determine how well-equipped a person is for a given job role. Evaluating a candidate’s personality trait to find the traits most closely associated with success is possible through assessment. Regardless of micromanagement, highly motivated employees can perform to the best of their abilities. 

By using a more focused personality assessment such as the OCEAN personality test, employers can map a candidate’s personality traits to roles and responsibilities in their organizations. By using these test results, employers can ascertain the candidate’s performance as to how well each candidate’s personality traits comply with the nature of the work. The OCEAN personality test measures the core personality traits associated with job accomplishment: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

Cognitive Theory of Personality

The intensive process of encoding and retrieval of information is what cognitive theories particularly focuses on, not to mention their emphasis on human expectations, goals, motives, and beliefs pertaining to the development of balanced personality characteristics. This theory differs from other theories that either focus on the conditions which determine personality development (behavioral theory) or the trait structures that are evident in those conditions( big five theory). 

Cognitive theories of personality have been widely in use for counseling psychology. In career development, cognitive theories explain how a person can chart out a course for a successful career. Through an accurate assessment of their own skill sets and the industry benchmarks, a person has a greater chance of success in his/her journey. The career personality test is immensely helpful, offering rational analysis and deep insights into exciting career opportunities. This scientifically validated test comprehensively and effectively measures a candidate’s interests and personality traits. The career personality test is designed in conformity with the Big Five theories and Holland Code.

Knowing the Dark Triad Personality

1. Knowing the Dark Triad Personality

As opposed to bright personality traits (generosity, optimism, benevolence), some people exhibit personality traits that don’t conform to the ideal concepts of humanity. Although such people are most likely to be aggressive, domineering, or arrogant, with effective handling and careful management, even the overlooked aspect of negative traits can be harnessed to make these people productive, behaviorally acceptable, and cordial. Psychologists keep these three traits under the label, “Dark Triad”: Psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and Narcissism. In the world of psychology, the dark triad personality is more than just a buzzword. It speaks volumes about the dark aspects of human personality.

Narcissism: originated from the Greek mythology wherein Narcissus, a hunter who got obsessed with his own self-reflection in a pool and ended up drowning in water. People high in this trait are selfish, lacking empathy, boastful, and are easily offended by criticism.

Machiavellianism: the origin of this word can be traced back to the 16th century when a renowned Italian diplomat, politician Niccolo Machiavelli earned notoriety for his book, “The Prince.” Being written in 1513 cannot attest more to the notoriety of this book than the fact that it was perceived to be an endorsement of the dark art of cunning and deceitful diplomacy. Traits inspired by this include manipulation, a lack of morality, forgery, self-centricity, and apathy.

Psychopathy: people high in this trait show a lack of remorse, antisocial tendency, and scheming nature. Noteworthy here is the difference between talking about psychopathic traits and being a psychopath, which commonly refers to a person with a criminal bent of mind.

The Dark Triad Personality Test

2. The Dark Triad Personality Test

Assessing dark traits is no mean feat! Whenever personality tests had been conducted, the results were either positive or neutral.  For example, there’s nothing unsatisfactory about the Myers-Briggs scoring system that can grade someone as “thinker” or “perceiver.” As such, these are relatively neutral terms. But when it comes to measuring all traits, there should be a framework in place that accurately assesses negative traits too. Interestingly, psychologists have developed the dark triad test to look for those negative traits that are evident in potentially dangerous people.  

The Dark Triad test has been widely implemented, including but not limited to the police and the courts, psychiatric wards, and multinational corporations. Research has shown that people with high dark triad scores are more likely to indulge in criminal/unlawful activities and also more likely to create havoc in the workplace. It is worth mentioning that critical behavioral issues like workplace harassment and counterproductivity had been addressed by creating a dark personality inventory of six negative traits that uncovered the dark side of the human personality. These six dark traits are Opportunism, Insensitivity, Impulsiveness, Self-obsession, Temperamental, and Thrill-seeking. This inventory is called Mettl Dark Personality Inventory, which is immensely helpful in the recruitment industry. As a result of which recruiters and companies can filter out the bad hires and identify whether or not the existing employees are maintaining the sanctity of the work culture.

Researchers have also discovered that various dark traits have a common core, which they refer to as the dark core of personality. The dark core is the common predominant tendency, out of which negative traits manifest themselves. The dark core personality test is an effective way to measure a person’s dark core traits. The test requires the candidate to indicate his/her level of agreement with the following statements as given below:

How Mercer Mettl Can Help?

While many companies resort to different methods to conduct the personality assessment, the Mercer-Mettl platform helps organizations perform assessments with the utmost ease. They take core aspects into account while evaluating human personalities such as dark personality tests, positive traits, motivation, preferences, values, and cognitive abilities. Every aspect is further categorized in the form of custom forms and tests. These categories can range from adaptability, problem-solving, loyalty, and curiosity, to teamwork, conflict management, delegation, and networking. 

This platform encompasses behavioral assessment, intrapersonal and interpersonal skills assessment, and whatnot! The psychometric tools offered here are useful for organizations for identifying Hi-Po, succession planning, learning and development, lateral hiring, skills and behavior assessment, data-driven recruiting, and sales and marketing competencies. The platform offers various essential tools such as personality profiler, motivation inventory, and dark personality inventory that uncover the hidden aspects of personality.

You may also want to read: Personality Tests: A Must-Have Tool for Recruitment

Originally published December 4 2019, Updated June 18 2020


Written by

Abhilash works with the Content Marketing team of Mercer|Mettl. He has been contributing his bit to the world of online business for some years now. Abhilash is experienced in content marketing, along with SEO. He’s fond of writing useful posts, helping people, traveling, and savoring delicacies.

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