Personality tests are used in a work setting, predominantly for the purpose of recruitment and selection. A number of professional issues exist around the use of personality tests in this setting, and practitioners should be clear of the possible flaws involved in the use of personality tests. The literature has highlighted concerns with the faking of personality tests. Individuals faking tests can mean those who obtain the highest scores are the ones who are recruited. This should be considered where personality tests are used for recruiting the top candidates as opposed to being used for removing the least suitable candidates. The validity of personality tests has to be considered when being used for selection purpose. A high face validity of tests can increase the likelihood of faking tests; yet low face validity can result in the personality tests being rejected by candidates. Practitioners have to also take into account a number of ethical issues before using personality tests in a work setting.
Key Words: Personality testing; Faking; Validity; Recruitment; Ethics.
Personality tests are used in a work setting at the stage of recruitment, and also once people are within a job, to assess their working preferences. Personality traits have been found to be predictive of a number of outcomes, ranging from health behaviours to task performance (Hough & Oswald, 2008). Work specific factors related to personality types include Job Performance, Work Motivation, Leadership and Adaptability (Morgeson et al., 2007). Using the Big Five personality traits, Judge et al.,(2001) found that Conscientiousness, significantly predicts job performance across different organisational settings, and Emotional stability also predicts overall Job Performance. Organisations wish to recruit the candidates who show the greatest probability of performing well in the role and those who are going to benefit the most from the use of all of the training opportunities provided by the organisation (Shum, O’Gorman & Myors, 2006:147). However, the use of personality assessments can be debated, and a number of factors have to be considered before using personality tests to make important decisions about individuals’ careers. The focus of this essay is on the use of personality assessment in organisations, primarily in recruitment and selection, and the issues practitioners need to be aware of before using personality assessments.
Faking of personality tests is been described by terms such as “response distortion, impression management, social desirability, displaying unlikely virtues, and self-enhancement” (Griffin, Chmielowski & Yoshita, 2007). The many definitions may account for the substantial number of published articles relating to the faking of personality tests (Morgeson et al., 2007). Researchers have suggested that it should be expected that individuals will give inaccurate responses in self-report tests due to the value attached to the outcome (Hogan, Barrett, & Hogan, 2007). However, there is little consensus in the research, about the frequency of faking, or how to address the issue. As selection is often carried out in a top-down approach, where those who perform in the top 5-10% are selected to progress (Arthur, Woehr, Graziano, 2001), the possibility of candidates faking personality tests should be a serious consideration for practitioners, otherwise those who have falsely represented themselves will be selected. Where it is obvious what is being tested in self-report questionnaires, there is likely to be a greater opportunity to fake responses. The face validity of questionnaires is an important issue, as it is likely to contribute to faking. Furnham & Drakeley (2000) found that managers tend to use personality tests with high face validity, due to concerns...