Many companies use personality tests and other types of standardized evaluations to screen job applicants. But it is important for companies to keep in mind the purposes and limitations of such tests. They should be used along with other more traditional assessments.
The usefulness of some of the tests has even been called into question. Research has proven, for example, that one of the most popular evaluations, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, is essentially meaningless and unreliable. The test is still used by a large majority of the Fortune 100 companies. Since the early 1990s, psychologists have been critical of the Myers-Briggs, citing a large body of evidence showing that the claims made by Myers-Briggs cannot be supported. And later, in 2005, further research showed that the test is of little value as a consulting tool for companies as well.
According to psychologists, the type of personality traits measured by the test are pretty much useless in predicting how someone will perform on a job. Not only that, people who have taken the test more than once are assigned different personality traits each time.
The Myers-Briggs uses a person’s answers to a group of questions to determine where he or she fits on its personality grid, which is defined by four pairs of opposite qualities. The pairs are extraversion vs introversion, sensing vs intuition, thinking vs feeling, and judging vs perceiving. These four pairs are combined in different ways to make a total of 16 different personality types.
Many psychologists, however, consider these results to be arbitrary. They often turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It should never be used to make career, personnel or leadership decisions, according to psychologists.
Another problem revolves around the all or nothing designation. For example, according to Myers-Briggs, a person is either purely rational – thinking – or purely emotional — feeling. But this is absurd on the surface. Everyone is a combination of the two traits to one degree or another. And the same holds true with all the other traits listed. All of these traits exist on a continuum. They are not an all or nothing kind of thing.