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February 13, 2003
Be Wary of Personality Tests
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e employers have turned to personality tests in the hiring process, but experts warn against putting too much emphasis on such assessments in predicting performance, the Hartford Courant reports.

“My feeling is they’re being overused and overinterpreted,” says Eduardo Salas, a professor of industrial psychology at the University of Central Florida. “They have limited validity when used by themselves.”

Most Fortune 1,000 companies, and increasingly smaller firms, have used predictive-behavior personality tests as part of the hiring process, the Courant reports. The newspaper notes that some experts contend the tests are better predictors of performance than face-to-face interviews. Chockalingam Viswesvaran, a Florida International University psychology professor and researcher, disagrees.

“For overall job performance, an interview is a better predictor than a personality test," Viswesvaran says.

One Fortune 500 employer tells the Courant that his firm uses a “work-style inventory” with all its prospective employees, as just one part of the hiring process.

"If they don't get a job here, it was not because of the test," says Kevin Cottingim, vice president of leadership development at Darden Restaurants. “We don’t call it a test. That has a connotation of pass-fail. We want to make sure we don’t set up a person for failure. That’s bad for our company, and bad for the person.”

One human resource manager with Household International, another Fortune 500 firm, reports a decrease in absenteeism and an increase in retention since inserting the personality test into the hiring process, according to the Courant.

Viswesvaran says that he has studied “honesty” and “integrity” tests and has found that they are accurate in predicting behaviors, such as theft and absenteeism.


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