When to Use Personality Assessments During the Interview Process? Trick Question. Never!

By: Ron Bower

People ask me all the time about when and how they should use a personality assessment during the pre-employment interviewing and selection process. The answer is simple. NEVER! Ever.

Let me be clear — I’m a huge, nerdy fan of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and many other personality-related instruments. I am a Master Practitioner with MBTI and have used the instrument extensively, both professionally and personally, for nearly 30 years. My wife and I both have advanced certifications in MBTI, and we have even geeked out together at a national MBTI User’s Conference. So, I am clearly a fan! I just strongly believe that instruments like this have no place in the interview process.

So, why take such a strong stand on never, ever using personality assessments during the hiring process? Predominantly, for me, it’s the gap between our assessment results, which pinpoint our natural preferences, and our learned behavior, which accounts for our ability to learn to situationally operate outside of our natural preferences.

As an example, I am an Introvert that prefers to gain energy by being in my own head and regain energy by being by myself. But I have learned to be (I’ve been told) a pretty effective speaker and facilitator. Nothing natural about it…just years of hard work, practice, and personal development. And, for the record, I really enjoy it! The reality is that I just need to take a nap when I am done, as that type of extended extroverted activity is exhausting for an Introvert! Haha.

If someone decided not to hire me for a job that included a lot of public speaking, or for a sales position, as an example, they could be making a mistake by ignoring the fact that I have learned to do these things well, regardless of what my MBTI preferences are. I would suggest that the right place to use a personality assessment would be post-hire to create a personal development plan.

As an alternative, during the selection process, use solid behavioral-based interview questions in a structured manner to ask the right questions to confirm whether your candidate can do the job. That’s all that matters!

If you have a need to use a formal behavioral assessment during your selection process, then find one designed for this purpose that has been validated for legal and impactful selection decisions.

All of these tools can effectively co-exist. Just use them wisely!

If you would like to further explore the use of MBTI for the right reasons, contact me at the Brickpath Group, my human resources advisory and consulting firm.