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Pre-Employment Personality Tests: A Must-Have Tool for Hiring

Talent Assessment | 8 Min Read

Pre-Employment Personality Tests: A Must-Have Tool for Hiring




A well-written CV or even a face-to-face interview can’t possibly reveal such intricacies about an individual’s personality.

“I am determined that people have the natural propensity to tell the interviewer whatever they need to say to make themselves a better fit for the job. Most people really want the job that they are applying for, so it is easy to say you are a certain way, when in fact, you might not be that way. The assessments will be able to confirm what you heard in the interview.

Things that we look for are – What drives a person? Do they avoid or run to conflict? Are they team players? How do they perform under extreme pressure? How well do they control their emotions?” – Dave Molenda, CPBA, CPDFA, CPEQA, Founder, Positive Polarity, Speaker and Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and Podcast Host.

Organizations are becoming more cautious about hiring the wrong individuals and wish to bring down attrition rates. Amid these changes, using a pre-employment personality test is the right course of action.


What is a Pre-employment Personality Test?

A pre-employment personality test is given to job applicants to identify relevant personality traits required for the job role in consideration. A pre-employment personality test helps predict people’s behavioral styles, which, in turn, leads to organizational outcomes of interest. They help recruiters make efficient and quick decisions by filtering out candidates whose personalities and attitudes don’t meet the role’s requirements.

I realized the importance of the personality test after hiring several sales associates with poor work ethics. After hiring two great sales reps with these tests, the morale and the energy in our office have shockingly increased. I could be wrong, but I give credit to the positivity and work ethic of our new hires. When hiring a sales rep, obviously, I would like them to be more extroverted and less agreeable. But when hiring someone for data entry or design, the introverts and agreeable hires usually seem to do better.

Chase Davis
ShowUp Local


What Do Personality Tests Reveal About an Employee?

Personality tests reveal an employee’s personality traits of emotional intelligence, preferences, extroversion or introversion, the ability to work in teams, adaptability, work ethics, motivation, etc. A pre-employment personality test can enable recruiters to look beyond CVs and interviews and gain a holistic understanding of the candidate, enabling them to make better decisions.


Why do Employers Use Personality Tests for Hiring?

Employers use personality tests to:


Employers use personality tests to

Predict Performance & Potential

Pre-employment personality tests have several benefits. They enable employers to select individuals based on values, soft skills and personality that further indicate performance and potential. Personality tests cover a wide gamut of undertaking – from recruitments to appraisals and employee retention.

Hard skills are becoming less relevant in the ever-changing world of work. Therefore, personality is one of the more stable characteristics of an individual that can be relied upon. Pre-employment personality tests offer a glimpse into the future, with a focus on predicting future potential and success.

Role & Organizational Fitment

Personality tests for recruitment offer objective insights into a candidate’s personality. Every job role is unique and often requires certain personality characteristics. A desk job is different from a sales or blue-collar job. Empathy may be one of the key competencies for a human resource professional job role. Similarly, thinking out-of-the-box and being experimental are important personality traits for a growth marketing role. An important competency for a sales role can be relationship building. A blue-collar job, such as a delivery person, needs basic smartphone literacy and a directional sense. However, due to the uncertainties of the future of work, there may be some umbrella personality traits that organizations look for, such as change management, stress management, self-motivation, planning and organization, time management, etc. Once organizations have identified these personality traits and behavioral competencies, they can be assimilated into your recruitment process to be administered to applicants to find the best-fit candidate.

Teams perform better when members share similar work values. Since values are an absolute guide for behavioral choices, employees in a group who cohere to similar values display greater creativity and innovation levels.

With personality tests, we are able to match the employee to the job fairly well. The result is usually higher employee satisfaction, better performance, and a lower employee resignation rate.

Daniel Carter
Founder, Zippy Electrics

Objective and Efficient Screening

Personality tests for employment eliminate bias from the screening process by providing in-depth insights and data-backed information about candidates that may not be apparent in a CV or during the interview. Pre-employment personality tests make the screening process more efficient by reducing the time taken in the process. In a way, using personality tests for hiring is also one way to secure an organization’s future. It has been reiterated that the cost of a bad hire can affect an organization, in the long run, not just financially but also culturally. And thus, personality tests for employment are like litmus tests in the recruitment process. They filter out suitable from the unsuitable candidates.

Pre-employment personality tests future-proof your organization as you are not just hiring an employee; you are also possibly hiring a future manager, a successor, a leader or a mentor. You must ensure that the baton of leadership is passed on to a promising candidate.


What Personality Tests are Used in the Workplace

Pre-employment personality tests modeled after the Five-Factor or the Big Five Model are the most commonly used in workplace settings. The ‘Big Five’ personality traits accurately predict important job-related outcomes such as job performance, a person’s potential for burnout, trainability and subsequent job satisfaction.

These five factors are:

  • Openness to Experience (Inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)
  • Conscientiousness (Efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless)
  • Extraversion (Outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)
  • Agreeableness (Friendly/compassionate vs. cold/unkind)
  • Neuroticism (Secure/confident vs. sensitive/nervous)

Some of the other popular personality tests used in a workplace are Myers Briggs Test (MBTI), DISC Personality Assessment, Enneagram, etc.

You can go through the detailed list of the most popular personality tests and theories used in a workplace here.


How Do Personality Tests for Recruitment Help You Hire the Right Person?

While the sanctity of using personality tests for hiring has been debated intently, there is enough evidence of personality tests for employment helping companies zero in on the right person. However, you must consider certain factors before designing a personality test for employment or choosing off-the-rack pre-employment personality tests available on the market.

  • Ensure that the development of the test is done by recognized experts who are part of a premier organization, practicing Industrial-Organizational (I-O) psychology, such as SIOP (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology). Ensure the test is standardized, meaning that the test’s development, evaluation, usage, reporting, conditions of administering, scoring procedures and interpretation are consistent and adhere to the set standards.
  • Validity and reliability are important properties for a test to provide results that can be used to make important decisions regarding talent management. The validity of pre-employment personality tests is defined as the degree to which the test measures what it claims to measure. Validity is determined by the various data points and insights the research reveals to focus on the relationship between the test and the personality traits it measures. A personality test for employment can only be reliable if it produces similar results under invariable conditions. A reliable test score is precise and consistent during all instances of the tests. It can also be recreated on multiple occasions.
  • Norming on a sample size of respondents across different geographies, age groups, genders, job levels, etc., increases the test’s validity and reliability.


How to Use Personality Tests for Employment?

Using personality tests for hiring has long been noted to be one of the strongest predictors of how a potential candidate will behave in a particular job position. Personality is a stable characteristic that is evolved and shaped through personal experiences. Cultural fit, after all, is important to the team, individual, and overall company’s success.

There has certainly been a great improvement in the recruitment process since we incorporated personality tests. Now, we can tell whether a candidate can handle the daily tasks involved in their specific job descriptions, despite their paper worth. We can also tell whether they are a team worker and if they have the potential to grow in our company. All these are important traits important to our company’s core values.

Jay Scott
HR, Pugsquest
  • Design your test, or better still, reach out to a team of subject matter experts with your requirements.
  • Get a customized personality test for hiring purposes, which is valid and reliable.
  • Administer the pre-employment personality test at the screening stage of the hiring process to easily and efficiently filter out candidates.
  • Based on the pre-employment personality test results, you can ask the candidates specific questions to get a better idea.
  • Finally, take a data-backed decision by ensuring that the chosen candidates’ personality traits are in-sync with that of the role and the organization.

Remote working has made personality tests for employment a must-have in the recruitment process. With the aid of technology, you can easily administer pre-employment personality tests by sending the test link to the candidate and ensure utmost security by adding a layer of AI-powered proctoring.

Behavioral and personality tests for recruitment are now teaming up with artificial intelligence to help employees with their post-hiring process – revolving around employee experience and customized training and leadership modules. Many organizations combine pre-employment personality tests and aptitude tests for filtering out candidates in the screening round. Both of them cumulatively provide a fail-proof way to sieve out the unsuitable candidates.

You may also want to read: An Ultimate Guide to Personality Assessment


The Mercer | Mettl Way


While many organizations use different methods to conduct the personality assessment, Mercer| Mettl’s personality tests for hiring evaluate human personality in 4 aspects, including positive traits, dark personality traits, cognitive ability, and preferences, motivation, and values.

Mercer | Mettl’s library of pre-employment personality tests includes tools such as Personality Profiler, Motivation Inventory and the Dark Personality Inventory that play an important role in the hiring process.


How CP Plus Used Pre-Employment Personality Tests to Hire the Right Employees & Reduce Attrition Rate Significantly

CP PLUS, India’s leading tech security solutions provider with a strong presence in over 60 countries, was grappling with the challenge of human resource management. Amid unprecedented growth in business, expanding the sales team across India was a major challenge for the company. CP Plus wanted to do away with traditional hiring approaches and find a one-stop solution to all its hiring challenges.

Challenges & Business Requirements of CP Plus:




Mercer | Mettl’s Solution

CP Plus availed three of Mercer | Mettl’s reliable and scientifically-backed assessments with customizations to cater to their unique requirements:

Mettl Personality Inventory (MPI), an innovative and evidence-based assessment, was useful in evaluating critical personality traits deemed desirable for sales roles. This personality test for employment measured and predicted behavioral competencies, which, in turn, ensured that candidates with the right cultural fit for the company were onboarded.

Mettl Personality Profiler test was used to understand the candidate’s mindset to analyze his/her emotional stability and intellectual prowess. Using this personality test for hiring measured candidates’ strengths and growth opportunities based on their personality traits, preferences, and predispositions, which enabled CP PLUS to make fair and transparent human resource decisions.

Mettl Sales Profiler provided a competency-based framework to CP Plus to build an effective sales team. This personality test for employment enabled CP Plus to conduct assessments to identify critical behavioral and cognitive competencies specific to organizational requirements.



Impact of Using Mercer | Mettl’s Battery of Assessments:

  • Attrition rate reduced by a whopping 50 percent.
  • The quality of hires improved significantly.
  • There was a noteworthy difference in the productivity of the newly hired employees.



Personality tests for recruitment have gained unprecedented importance as the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted hiring to the virtual mode. The virtual mode of interviewing can make it more challenging to discern an individual’s body language and demeanor. Pre-employment personality tests validate your hiring process and ensure that you are hiring the right candidate.

“We’ve experimented with using personality tests during recruitment for several years but have only been using them consistently since the shift to remote recruiting. They’ve proven especially beneficial to gain some insights into candidates that we find are more difficult to assess during video/phone interviews. Using them does make finding ideal candidates easier. It cuts down the time spent in interviews and provides a measurable metric for comparing candidates, which ultimately makes the entire process more efficient.” – Jon Hill, Chairman & CEO, The Energists.

Originally published September 13 2019, Updated August 5 2021

Written by

Bhuvi is a content marketer at Mercer | Mettl. She's helped various brands find their voice through insightful thought pieces and engaging content. When not scandalizing people with her stories, you’ll find her challenging gender norms, dancing to her own tune, and crusading through life, laughing.

About This Topic

Personality assessments are a method of identifying candidates whose characteristics match the role and organization’s requirements. Personality assessments help HRs make effective people decisions by placing people in positions suited to their disposition.

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