When jobs become available applicants begin flooding organizations with resumes and applications. This is a bad thing for the organizations because they have a wide variety of applicants to choose from to fill their needs. The problem arises when the organizations have to pick the best person for the job. To counter this problem organizations have developed testing and screening procedures to narrow down the applicant pool to the best applicants. These tests are made up of intelligence tests, behavioral interviews, assessment centers, realistic job previews, and personality tests. Some of these different batteries have become controversial due to the adverse impact or poor validity associated with them. I am going to discuss the controversies surrounding the adverse impact and validity of personality tests.
There are three major questions employers try to answer during the applicant selection process: does the applicant have the right skills and experience, are they enthusiastic and motivated, and will their attitude and works style personality fit in. Judging a person’s personality can help answer the motivation and work style questions. In most situations on the job it’s the personality of the workers and managers that affect the success of the company. If the employees don’t work well together or the managers can’t keep the workers motivated the productivity of the company will suffer.
Personality tests are normally given when an applicant first applies for a position. The results of these tests determine whether or not the applicant makes it to the next step of the selection process. The most common personality test used tests the applicant on “the big five” personality traits. These traits consist of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. The test consists anywhere from 60 to 240 questions that are to be answered on a five point scale ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”
Openness is considered imaginative, ambiguous, unusual ideas, curiosity, variety and general appreciation for art. People who score high on openness are curious and open to new ideas, creative, and more aware of their emotions. Low openness scores tend to lead to people who are more conventional and down to earth with more traditional ideas. They prefer plain boring straightforward and subtle ideas.
A high score in conscientiousness leads to a person who is very self disciplined, achievement oriented, and prefers to have a planned rather than spontaneous workplace. A conscientious person usually does not act on impulses and keeps on track with the job at hand.
The extraversion part of the personality tests leads to interesting results. Those high in extraversion are usually very positive and tend to seek out the company of other people. Extraverts love being the center of attention, are very enthusiastic, and full of excitement. On the other hand people who score low on extraversion tend...