According to a recent poll of nearly 500 SHRM members about the use of personality tests for the hiring and promotion of employees, the majority of HR professionals (71%) indicate that personality tests can be useful in predicting job-related behavior or organizational fit. Only 14 percent disagree.

But when it came to implementation, 82 percent said their organizations do not use a personality test in the hiring or employee promotion process.  That’s quite a disparity between recognition of a best practice (or at least a helpful tool) and implementation.

But then again, if you believe in the 80-20 rule, where 20 percent of the businesses earn 80 percent of all the success, maybe it isn’t so surprising.

A 2011 study by The Aberdeen Group, Assessments 2011: Selecting and Developing for the Future, lends credence to my presumption. 

A significant but common theme differentiating Best-in-Class organizations from the laggards in their industry is that these Best-in-Class trust the data coming from pre-employment and personality tests in the talent decision making process. (Best-in-Class companies represent the top 20 percent of aggregate performance scorers and demonstrate their dominance in their industry.) That finding is huge because as any proponent of pre-employment testing can tell you, management and HR’s denial of any validity or reliability coming from personality testing is a significant roadblock in improving the managing of talent in many organizations.

The report revealed that across the board,

“Best-in-Class companies place greater value on assessment data as part of the decision process. The one decision point with the greatest gap between Best-in-Class and laggards was in helping understand future potential.  The top performing companies know that it’s not enough to just understand the employee’s current capabilities, but what they may be able to do in the future.”

The report also says,

“finding ways to quantify, evaluate, and help make better decisions for the future based on potential is a priority for top performing companies.”

Best-in-Class organizations are also 62 percent more likely to have automated assessments as part of the recruitment process, integrating with their Applicant Tracking System (ATS or APS) or career portal (47 percent to 29 percent for the laggards.)  The study found “this automation is yielding impressive performance management improvements in key hiring metrics, including improved hiring manager satisfaction and greater reduction in both time and cost to hire.”


Of the organizations that use personality tests in the hiring and promotion process, the most common job groups targeted include mid-level managers (56%), executives (45%), and entry-level exempt jobs (43%).