8 Personality Tests Used in Psychology (And by Employers)

Jennifer Herrity

Updated October 27, 2022

Published November 23, 2020

Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.

Personality tests are often used to gain insight into who people are, along with what motivates them. From an employer perspective, understanding the personality of a potential hire can shed light on their work style and how they might fit into the company’s work culture.

In this article, we cover some background on eight of the most common types of personality tests used in psychology and how they can be applied in the workplace.

What is a personality test?

Stemming from the field of psychology, personality tests have been used to better understand character traits in a variety of settings—including, if not especially, the workplace. Otherwise, they can be useful for psychological diagnoses by mental health professionals, personal development or nurturing positive relationships with others. Over the years, an innumerable amount of personality tests have come into popularity, many of which still circulate or are easily accessible online.

Related: Personality Type Test: Definition and Examples

History of the personality test

The roots of personality tests are enmeshed with that of psychology emerging as a respected science. Psychology itself traces back to Withelm Wundt, the “Father of Psychology,” who first made the distinction between the human personality and the human body during the 19th century. But the personality test didn’t exist until post-World War I in the 1900s with the Woodworth Personal Data Sheet, which was used to assess psychological trauma in returning soldiers.

Around that time, another personality test that came into popularity was psychoanalyst Herman Rorschach’s inkblot test—better known as the Rorschach test—that's still sometimes used today in psychology.

Related: Personality Type Test: Definition and Examples

8 personality tests used by employers

Nowadays, it's not uncommon to encounter a personality test during the job search. Employers often use different personality tests to understand the character traits of their employees. Pre-employment personality assessments can also be used to estimate the likelihood of success in job applicants. Some of the more common of these personality tests include:

1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Also known as the MBTI, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is often used by companies during the hiring process. Its questions determine where an applicant falls within four key groupings: extraversion vs. introversion, judging vs. perceiving, intuition vs. sensing and thinking vs. feeling. The results of these groupings place test-takers into one of 16 personality types. With 93 questions in all, it's a fairly long assessment.

An infograpic showing the four determiners of the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator personality questionnaire: extraversion vs. introversion; sensing vs. intuition; thinking vs. feeling; and judging vs. perceiving.

Read more: Job Compatibility for the 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Types

2. Caliper Profile

The Caliper Profile measures how the personality traits of an applicant or employee correlate to their performance in their work role. This personality test is frequently used during employment screenings.

When taking this test, you'll answer questions in various formats, the most common of which presents a set of statements and asks you to choose which most aligns with your views. Other question formats include true or false, multiple-choice and degree of agreement scale.

This assessment looks at both the potentially negative and positive qualities of a candidate to provide a wider picture of how they would perform in a role. It can also be customized to target specific behaviors that are particularly important to a certain job or function.

Related: Character Trait Examples: Best Traits for Work and Resume

3. 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire

In 1949, Raymond B. Cattell, Maurice Tatsuoka and Herbert Eber published the first version of the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire, also called 16PF, though it has been revised over the years. It helps measure behaviors in individuals and has many applications, including career development and employee progression. The types of personality traits it measures include dominance, rule-consciousness, sensitivity, emotional stability, perfectionism, self-reliance and openness to change.

Related: Career Development Theory: Definition and Introduction

4. SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire, also called OPQ32, provides insight into how an individual’s personality traits and behavior may influence work performance. It includes 104 questions that measure 32 key characteristics, which are categorized into three main areas that impact an individual’s behavior at work: emotions, thinking style and feelings, and relationships with people.

Each question includes multiple statements, and the taker selects the one that describes them most and the one that describes them least. The results come in the form of a customized report for each taker, which describes their strengths and weaknesses in detail, as well as a graphical summary that can be used to compare applicants to one another.

Related: Emotional Intelligence: Definition and Examples

5. HEXACO Personality Inventory-Revised

More than two decades ago, researchers constructed the HEXACO Personality Inventory to assess the various dimensions of an individual's personality and how they apply their own theoretical interpretations to various situations.

It measures six key personality dimensions: honesty/humility emotional stability, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. In the revised version, you can choose from three assessment length options: the full-length (200 questions), half-length (100 questions) and the HEXACO 60 (60 questions).

Read more: How To Use a Personality Inventory for Career Searches

6. Revised NEO Personality Inventory

The latest version of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory was finalized in 2005. It measures and tests the five main traits outlined in the five-factor personality model: neuroticism, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness and extraversion, with each of those five traits breaking down into further subcategories.

For example, the neuroticism trait includes vulnerability to stress, anxiety, depression, impulsiveness and self-consciousness. Many of the traits it measures are important in the workplace, which has led to an increase in its use as an employment screening tool.

7. Eysenck Personality Inventory

The Eysenck Personality Inventory assesses an individual's personality based on two key dimensions: neuroticism vs. stability and extroversion vs. introversion. The results include three main scores, rated as “E” (extroversion level), “N” (neuroticism level) and “lie,” which measures honesty in the assessment based on a desire for better scores. The full assessment includes 100 questions, although there is also a shortened version with 57 yes/no questions.

Related: How To Pass a Personality Test

8. DISC personality test

Based on the categories, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance (DISC), this test breaks into 28 statements each with four options for the test-taker to rate how they identify with the statement, ultimately resulting in one of 12 different personality types.

An infographic showing the four components of the DISC personality types and three bulleted traits for each: Dominance (focused, inspirational and independent), Influence (energetic, sociable and positive), Steadiness (patience, persistence and thoughtfulness), and Conscientiousness (structure, organization and data-driven).

Related: What are the 12 DISC Personality Types? (With Best Careers for Each)

Why personality testing is useful in the workplace

Understanding your own character traits can be a powerful tool when deciding your career path. Additionally, this self-awareness could give you an advantage when being assessed by potential employers. Taking a personality test could help you to:

  • Understand your own skills and interests: Having insight into your personality type will shine a light on strengths you can highlight on your resume while also surfacing skills you could potentially improve.

  • Identify promising career paths: When considering potential training or college majors or possible career shifts, a personality test can be helpful in guiding your vocational development.

  • Present yourself positively to employers: Personality assessments may come up during the interview process. It could be beneficial to know your personality type beforehand so you're prepared to discuss it with your interviewer.

  • Identify ideal work environments and relationships: In a broader context, you're probably already aware if you're more introverted or extroverted, but having a more thorough view into how your personality classifies can help you understand what environments or relationships are most likely to help you thrive.

  • Be aware of potential challenges in a given work role or environment: Understanding what circumstances are likely to be more difficult can help you to prepare for them or avoid them entirely. You'll also be able to focus on self-improvement if you're aware of traits and situations more likely to pose obstacles for you.

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