How to build the perfect team using a personality test

It used to be that building a better team required a lot of composting. No doubt, it was a process that could take months and even years.

Only over time were employers and managers able to gain some insight into their employees, what makes them tick (or not), and their team’s inner workings. But in today’s climate, everything must be done exponentially faster to remain competitive.

For many organizations, the ultimate goal is to create well-rounded teams to improve efficiency and company culture. To that end, more and more companies are using a personality test to assess their team members.

And it stands to reason. To build a better team, it behooves any organization to ensure that everyone is in the role that’s best suited to them. While employees should be in positions that play to their talents and strengths, they should also be in roles that play to their personalities. 

Introverts, for example, might despise group projects and panic at the mere thought of getting out in front of customers. They’ll probably tell you themselves they would be far better suited (read: productive) for working independently.

On the contrary, extroverts would unequivocally thrive in a group dynamic. These folks would, no doubt, relish the thought of schmoozing with clients and bringing “it” home for the team.

What do HR experts think?

Getting everyone into the right role is key to your organization’s overall success, and a personality test could be the ideal way to do that. And it looks like a majority of HR professionals would agree.

According to a poll conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), as much as 71% indicated that a personality test could be a valuable tool for predicting behavior as it relates to the job. Moreover, these assessments are good indicators of whether or not an individual would be a good fit for the company culture.

While many still question the validity of a personality test, there are plenty of organizations that use it as a career development tool. In fact, research shows that approximately 22% of employers use personality tests in the hiring process

What is a personality test?

A personality test is an assessment tool used by organizations to find the candidate that’s best suited for the opportunity. Not only are these assessments used to identify particular character traits, but they are also used as a predictive measure of how well a candidate will perform in a specific position. 

A few of the most popular personality tests include: 

Why should employers use a personality test in the hiring process?

Managing a team full of varied personalities can be challenging at best. Every team member brings a particular set of skills and knowledge to the group. They also bring their unique personality traits, which may or may not play well with others. And life has no doubt imparted us all with the wisdom to know people don’t always get along.

When folks work day after day with someone who gets under their skin or someone they feel shouldn’t be on the team in the first place, personalities can (and will) clash under the fluorescent lights. When that happens, employers can almost always expect tension and stalled projects. 

However, personality tests can afford employers the opportunity to get out in front of these clashes. They might even prevent them in the first place, saving everyone a lot of time and frustration. As an added benefit, personality tests can save money as well.

According to SHRM, the average cost per new hire is $4,129, and the average time it takes to fill an open position is 42 days. Furthermore, recruiting expert Jörgen Sundberg, estimates that the average cost of a bad hire is somewhere in the ballpark of $240,000. And while the average cost of a bad hire is ridiculously high, it can also cause a ripple effect of sorts within the team. Just as you would suspect, poor hiring decisions tend to have a detrimental effect on morale

How to use a personality test to build a better team

While it might seem like a no-brainer, personality tests are not a magic bullet, and they should be used with caution. If you’re thinking about introducing a personality test into your hiring process, it’s crucial that you understand the nuances and limitations of these assessments. 

Use a scientifically based assessment tool

Well-designed personality tests can be an invaluable tool for funneling the right people to the right job functions. But the keywords here are “well-designed.”

Ideally, if you’re thinking about adding a personality test to your hiring processes, be sure to choose one that has a basis in science (see suggestions above). And no, while it is wildly popular, the Enneagram is not based on science and should probably be excluded from consideration. 

Use assessment tools in conjunction with standard practices

Remember that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to personality tests, and there is a margin of error. First, candidates may not always offer a subjective opinion of themselves.

Couple that with the fact that many will offer answers that they think are right or answers that they feel will put them in a positive light, and the result can be skewed. For those reasons, hiring managers would do well to use a personality test in conjunction with other assessment tools. Interviews and their expertise are still incredibly valuable. 

Personality tests can be a serviceable tool for putting the right candidates into the right jobs. And while there is much insight to be gleaned from a personality test, the test itself should always be scientifically based. Moreover, hiring managers should be mindful of how they use the data.

While personality tests can facilitate the hiring process, standard tools like interviews remain quite beneficial. Additionally, hiring managers would do well to remember that their years of experience are invaluable resources for building a better team.