Two Types of Personality Tests – It’s Important You Know the DIfference

The broad description of “personality tests” fall into two distinct types – ipsative and normative. It is essential that a hiring manager understands the differences between these types of personality tests because both types can pass the validity and reliability litmus test. But…and this is a BIG BUT…both types of personality tests are not predictive of job fit.

Personality tests, often referred to as behavioral assessments, help managers understand what differentiates one person from another and how they might perform the job. Research has shown and confirmed that certain personality traits give individuals a leg up in achieving what they set out to achieve. These personality traits combine in unique ways, explaining why two people with similar experience and education might perform very differently.  Online personality tests today offer reliable and predictive insight into how employees make decision, approach their tasks and projects, and relate with other people. Therefore the right personality test gives managers a powerful tool to make predictable hiring decisions.

DISC and Business Motivators assessments are considered ipsative tests. CriteriaOne DISC and Business Motivators are ipsative tests that report the relative intensity of the person toward different work-related preferences such as solving problems, interacting with others, keeping pace, and following the rules as well as motivators such as money, power, learning, and more.

Normative tests, unlike ipsative tests, measure quantifiable personality characteristics on each scale. Examples of normative tests include Elite, Assess, and Prevue.  In business, normative testing allows people to be compared to other employees who have met with success or failure in a job. The hope for managers using normative tests is that they can predict candidates who will have the best chances of success if hired or promoted and to avoid placing the wrong employee in the wrong position. Normative tests are best suited as a recruitment and selection instrument but are also useful in developmental, coaching and training.