Published On: Fri, Jan 26th, 2018

Can Personality Quizzes Accurately Describe Employee Behavior?

In recent years, personality exams have become popular assessment tools in the workplace. In fact, according to a 2014 survey of members of the Society for Human Resource Management, 22 percent use workplace assessment tests to evaluate job applicants.

Some experts also estimate that about 60 percent of workers have been asked to take some form of assessment test in their organizations.

It is standard for employers to require job applicants to undergo various screening processes to see if they are fit for a role. To get hired, applicants may be asked to take cognitive exams, perform trial tasks, pass drug-related tests and other medical examinations.

photo/ Andreas Breitling

Can personality quizzes really describe employee behavior accurately?

Clear Objectives

There is no one-size-fits-all personality test that will cater to all of an organization’s needs. Not all personality quizzes are made equal, so employers must have a clear idea of what their objectives are if they want to get accurate and useful results. For example, an organization seeking to reduce employee turnover will need an exam that is different from the one used by an organization looking to match employee strengths with specific tasks.

There are different personality tests available, but solid exams will usually have the following qualities:

  • Measuring stable traits that will not change over time
  • Detecting any dishonest or random answers
  • Producing the same results even after several retakes
  • Having a strong track record of being valid predictor of job performance
  • Being able to compare scores between test takers


Personality tests are based on self-report and self-presentation. This makes it critical for test takers to be honest about themselves in order for quiz results to turn out accurate.

Surprisingly, test takers have been observed to lie less often even in highly evaluative situations like in employee selection. It is estimated that only about one out of seven job applicants fake their responses during actual employment selection.

Furthermore, successfully faking answers to a personality quiz is a bit more complex than simply lying. For instance, employees and candidates must first know which traits are relevant to the hiring decision for them to know what fake answers to give.

Metrics for Detecting Fake Answers

The accuracy of a personality test will depend on how well it is designed and whether it incorporates scales that screen out fake answers or random responses. There are ways to detect whether an employee is faking his answers in a work assessment test, and these methods are usually employed by longer and more sophisticated personality quizzes.

For example, the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) integrates metrics that determine whether a respondent is just giving random answers to quiz questions. The scales in CPI also detect whether an applicant is purposely using his answers to make a positive impression.

Least-Effective Assessment Method

A study conducted by Frank L. Schmidt, management and organizations professor emeritus at the University of Iowa, finds that personality quizzes are the least effective in predicting job performance compared to other selection methods. The research also finds that these exams are more effective when used together with other assessment procedures that have higher predictive validity, like cognitive-ability exams.

Consider This
Personality quizzes are useful tools for gaining deeper insight into employee behavior and identifying their strengths and weaknesses, but these tests are not a magic bullet. These assessment tools are just one of the many variables that need to be considered when making important management decisions.

Author: Zainab Sheikh

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