The Danger of Using Personality Tests to Hire Employees

June 4, 2016, 3:00 PM UTC
Businessman writing notes at laptop desk
Cropped image of businessman writing notes at laptop desk in office
Photograph by Portra Images via Getty Images

The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you build a strong team?” is written by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

One of the most important truths of long-term success: Your business will only go as far as the team you build will take it.

Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” While this may seem obvious, it can be an easy concept to lose sight of. You can have the best ideas and strategies for how you want your company to grow, but if there isn’t a strong team around you to help implement them, it’s all for nothing.

Building a strong team starts with not only knowing yourself, but knowing your strategy on how to get your business where it needs to go. Be able to discern potential future obstacles that will be a hindrance to your strategy. Know your strengths. Know your weaknesses. Then hire from that place.

My first hire was someone who directly complements me. Do you have a high capacity for detail-oriented work? Maybe an administrative person doesn’t need to be your first hire. Do you thrive in sales-related work but not as much in customer relations? Hire someone who is experienced in providing quality attention to individual clients. Self-evaluation is crucial for effective hiring, and it’s the first step in figuring out how to construct the right team for your business.

See also: The Best Way to Build a Successful Team

Once you’ve done some honest self-evaluation, the type of skill sets you need to surround yourself with will become clear. We purchase Insights Discovery’s personality tests to accomplish this. Every time we need to make a new hire, we evaluate the demands of the position along with the balance of personalities in the office to get a clear picture of what type of person will make our team stronger.

That being said, a word of caution on personality tests: They should never be used as a litmus test for hiring or firing. For one thing, you run the risk of getting into legal trouble. But more importantly, people are very complex. They’re more than just letters or colors or categories of personality tests. Job experience, education, and even intangibles like how they click with your team should all be considered. If I solely relied on Insights test results, I would have missed out on a couple of great hires. It’s simply a tool in the complex art of hiring.


The second piece of building a strong team is developing the one you already have. In our office, we regularly hold training days where our employees can assess their strengths and weaknesses, along with the people they work with on a daily basis. As a result, our team is constantly growing together and improving the way we work and communicate with each other. We even have a big wheel in the middle of our office where everyone’s picture is placed in the section that correlates with their personality. Knowing each other’s skills and personality traits helps us communicate with and serve one another without rubbing each other the wrong way. A strong team is one that is unified in vision and diverse in strengths.

Strategize well, be honest with yourself, hire with culture and complementary strengths in mind, and then develop your team well. The people you surround yourself with will be one of the biggest factors in the long-term success of your business.