Home » The Pitfall of Using Personality Tests for Hiring Purposes

The Pitfall of Using Personality Tests for Hiring Purposes

I’ve taken several versions of the Myers-Briggs test and so far they all have resulted in ENFP (The Campaigner). But my N score is fairly close to the S and my F is barely across the line from T. There are definitely moments in my life when I am more of an ESFP (The Entertainer), especially when I’m playing guitar at Poison Frog Brewery or standing on stage leading a workshop or presentation. In conversations, especially debates, my ENTP (The Debater) personality kicks in and I gladly take on the role of devil’s advocate. (Not surprisingly, the ESTP personality is called The Entrepreneur. Go figure.)

Now you know why I like to wear a cape!

I’ve also taken the Enneagram Personality tests. I have always scored as #7 The Enthusiast, but I share some tendencies of #2 The Helper and #3 The Achiever.

The point I want to make is that these personality tests are fun, fascinating, and insightful, but dangerous when you use them to pigeonhole or label someone. For instance, while reading this description of a #7 The Enthusiast, it says that one of my weaknesses is my ability to stay focused. An employer might read that in the description and immediately assign that label to me. Yet most of my bosses throughout my life have talked about my ability to stay focused on the task at hand as one of my overall strengths.

Black Friday is only 45 days away. You’re in the process of hiring and training your seasonal staff. You’re looking for anything to speed up the process and help you find good people.

I want to implore you not to use the personality tests to hire people.

No one can be truly described by these tests in a perfect way, yet as a shortcut we often use the labels and descriptions to pigeonhole people and assign them characteristics they don’t have. The other downside is that there is no single personality type in these tests that fits perfectly to the characteristics you need for the job for which you’re hiring.


Rather than using shortcuts, the best way to find the perfect people for your team is to create your own “personality profiles.” Identify the most important traits to describe the perfect person for each position. For instance, if you are looking for a Salesperson, you might want someone who is:

  • Engaging
  • Friendly
  • Caring
  • Knowledgeable

If the job requires them to find unique solutions to interesting problems, you might also choose:

  • Creative
  • Intuitive
  • Problem-solver

If you sell items that require a lengthy sales process you might also add:

  • Patient
  • Determined

Then list your Core Values. These also play a role in finding the right people for your team.

Get your list together. The more clearly you identify the person you want to hire before the hiring process, the better you will recognize him or her when you start that process.

Tomorrow I’ll show you what to do with that list and how to attract a better group of applicants.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS I asked my salespeople to play many roles including stocking shelves, answering phones, giftwrapping packages, and running the cash registers. My list included:

  • Engaging
  • Friendly
  • Fun-Loving (core value)
  • Helpful (core value)
  • Creative
  • Desire to Learn (core value)
  • Decent Math Skills
  • Nostalgic (core value)

Notice how I left off Knowledgeable. I’ll explain why tomorrow.

PPS Personality tests can play a role with your team, but only after the hiring is done. If you have a full understanding of the personality test shortfalls and limitations, and are willing to use them only as a guide rather than a definitive description, you can understand people’s tendencies and preferences better, which helps you position them and motivate them for better results.

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