personality tests in business

If you are familiar with social media, chances are that you have seen or participated in the popular Buzzfeed personality quizzes. You might have discovered which Avenger you are, which Friends character you connect with the most, or which Hogwarts house you belong to. Aside from the pop culture references, all of these tests share one basic commonality: they are all personality assessments. 

On a larger scale beyond social media, personality and behavioral tests in the workplace are increasingly popular among business professionals who want to build a cohesive team and determine how their employees react in various situations.

Types of Personality Tests

Scientifically, personality tests assess parts of the brain that determine the personality or emotional construct of human beings. They can measure surface-level attributes like how social a person is, but other tests have the ability to find deeper understandings about humans, like what triggers a fight-or-flight response. This data contributes to decision-making or even just a better understanding of how to interact with a team.

Here are a few behavioral tests that companies utilize to learn about their employees: 

1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
2. Caliper Profile
3. Hogan Personality Inventory
4. Birkman Method
5. DiSC Behavior Inventory
 

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

This evaluation focuses on understanding the employee’s personality in four areas:

  • Introversion vs. Extroversion
  • Intuition vs. Sensing
  • Judging vs. Perceiving
  • Thinking vs. Feeling 

Based on answers to more than 90 questions, the MBTI sorts people into sixteen different personality types that are meant to show how that person perceives and understands a situation. This is a popular personality test for jobs, as it offers prospective employers a glimpse into how the applicant may respond to his or her co-workers.
 

The Caliper Profile

Specifically designed to assess employee productivity, this career personality test that is used to measure the projected productivity level of potential employees. This test is slightly different from the MBTI in that the Caliper Profile shows how the person’s personality interacts with his/her job functions.

The Hogan Personality Inventory

Derived from aspects of the Five-Factor Model, this job personality test also measures how a potential employee’s personality corresponds with the job position he/she is applying for. Over 200 true and false questions gauge how the person may react to any demands associated with the workplace.

The Birkman Method

The Birkman Method, through a series of 298 questions, collects and presents data about an individual’s usual behavior, interests, stressors, and needs across different environments and industries. The multi-dimensional report provides qualities that leaders and members of an organization may not have been aware of. Three primary pieces of data are reported and communicated with four colors and four shapes:

  • Underlying needs from your surroundings
  • Personality and perceptions in a social context
  • Behavioral and occupational data

DiSC Behavior Inventory

As the oldest-known personality test in existence, the DiSC behavior assessment stands for the four main aspects that the test measures:

Dominant
Influential
Steady
Compliant

DiSC differs from the other behavioral tests because it focuses on temperaments rather than personality characteristics. Even so, this work personality test is still popular because it helps managers understand their employees and how they function as part of a team.

Behavioral Assessments Applied in Organizations

Swyft Filings partnered with Birkman and the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship (WCE), the undergraduate entrepreneurship program at the University of Houston, to provide perspective on the impact that behavioral assessments have on organizations. According to Melissa Muñoz and Amanda Moya, program managers of WCE and certified Birkman consultants, “we use it a lot in the leadership and purpose courses, and also when creating teams or whenever we're dealing with conflict on teams.” WCE was named the#2 Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program in the nation for 2018 by the Princeton Review, and here’s how a behavioral assessment helped make that happen:

Builds a Cohesive Team

Organizations often make the mistake of building a team of individuals that are like-minded. The Birkman Method, however, encourages companies to create teams based on different strengths that complement each other. Muñoz agrees with this ideology, saying, “It's very important to make sure that when building teams, and even a class, that you have a variety of colors so that one person can help another person out in areas that they're not as strong in.” Minds that think alike tend to also have the same stress behavior, which then leads to stunted progress.

Resolves Conflicts Easier

Once a team is formed, leaders don’t always know the best way to de-escalate a negative situation. Rather than spending time to figure out how to handle a conflict, certain tests offer reports that provide appropriate responses per individual. “If a team or student comes in telling us a specific problem, then we can usually pinpoint what report they need,” Moya states about Birkman. “For example, there are reports on how to work with you if they’re having trouble working with your team, and how to incentivize if you’re having trouble with motivating one of the teammates.”

Identifies Talent and Career Options

Personality assessments also explain how people’s strengths and interests will lead to a career, something that undergraduate students specifically struggle with. Moya explains that the asterisk, one of the four shapes used in the report, “falls on the grid in terms of what you’re most interested in, like what piques your interest in a job, or what you like most.” The Occupation & Career Development Assessment, one of the 40 advanced Birkman reports you can generate, provides insights on not only what careers pique interest to you, but also how you would react under stress in the roles. The report provides information about strengths, motivators, and the overall environment that inspires success.


Behavioral assessments such as Birkman allow the leadership team to be more conscious of employee needs and the reasons behind their behavior. Overall, the primary benefit of having assessments in the workplace is the opportunity to build a better environment for the team, and ultimately your business.


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