Personality Tests and Their Role in the Workplace

In today’s workplace, personality tests have become are more prevalent than ever. According to Psychology Today, approximately 80% of Fortune 500 companies use personality tests to assess their employees for the purposes of coaching, development, and team building.[1] As a result, the personality test industry now exceeds $3 billion.[2] But what are personality tests? And do they belong in the workplace?

What are personality tests?

Personality tests evaluate people based on underlying factors in their natural disposition. There are two different types of personality tests:

  1. Type-based personality tests
  2. Trait-based personality tests

Type-Based Personality Tests

Type-based personality tests group respondents into different categories. Examples include the Myers-Briggs (a.k.a. 16 Personality Factor) and DISC assessment. These are typological assessments that put people into types, often accompanied by labels, colors, or characters. Typological assessments are fun, but they are not always valid or reliable. People fall on a spectrum when it comes to their talents and tendencies, and these will change from context to context, as well as over time. This makes many personality assessments ineffective, even problematic, when used as a basis for major decisions. To put it into perspective, some critics have claimed that personality tests hold no more reliability or validity than horoscopes.[3] But that’s not the case for every personality test. Trait-based personality tests offer a much better alternative for sound measurement and strong decisions.

Trait-Based Personality Tests

Much more reliable than typological assessments are trait-based personality tests. Rather than assessing people on their “personality” or natural tendencies, trait-based assessments provide an objective measure of behaviour-based skills. Examples of trait-based assessments include the Big Five Personality Test and the Leadership Skills Profile. Because these personality tests don’t group candidates into buckets, they provide a much more holistic measure of personality (and talent).

Using Personality Tests in the Workplace

Although typological personality tests shouldn’t be used in the workplace, trait-based tests can be beneficial in a variety of ways. Organizations can use personality tests to:

  • Screen job applicants
  • Identify strengths
  • Pin-point development opportunities
  • Guide to coaching conversations
  • Assign roles
  • Identify high-potentials / emerging talent
  • Nominate candidates
  • Structure leadership development programs
  • And more

Note: When using personality tests in the workplace, it is important to make sure the test is not the only source of information. Leaders should also consider resumes, references, interviews, performance appraisals, and other indicators of an employee’s skills and abilities.

Why Use Personality Assessments?

A strong personality assessment can be valuable for organizations and their employees. Benefits of using personality assessments in the workplace include:

  • Increased employee engagement
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Stronger internal talent pool
  • Decreased turnover
  • Improved company culture

Which Personality Test Should I Use?

If you’re looking for a valid and reliable personality test, take a look at the Leadership Skills Profile — Revised (LSP-R). The LSP-R is a personality-based assessment of leadership skills that can be used to guide leadership development efforts. The test scores individuals on 50 leadership competencies including cognitive, personal, interpersonal, and senior leadership skills. Unlike typological assessments, the LSP-R does not group people into artificial buckets. Instead, everyone receives a Focus Report which includes a summary of scores and analysis of results, as well as templates and activities for creating a personalized development plan.

If you’re interested in using the LSP-R for yourself or your team, check out the free trial below. You’ll get to see how SIGMA’s online testing platform works and what the assessment entails. We’ll also send you your Focus Report for free!

Try the LSP-R for Free

Looking for More?

If you want to learn more about personality tests, what they are, how they’re used, and why some are better than others, check out SIGMA’s personality test Q&A. If you have questions about the LSP-R, your Focus Report, or you’d like to speak with a consultant, contact us below. We’re always happy to chat!

Erica Sutherland, Ph.D.


Erica completed her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational psychology at Western University. She is a Senior Consultant at SIGMA, where she delivers consulting services and Succession Planning solutions to clients. As a member of SIGMA’s executive coaching team, Erica works one-on-one with leaders to develop talent. She also brings her expertise in measurement and psychometrics to the R&D team, assisting with the development and validation of SIGMA’s many assessments.

Brittney Anderson, Ph.D.


Brittney is a member of our coaching and consulting team. She brings her expertise in evidence-based practice to provide companies with leadership solutions that meet their needs. Primarily, Brittney helps her clients prepare for their future with succession planning and comprehensive leadership development programs. As an executive coach, she helps leaders hone their skills using a process-based approach to development.

Glen Harrison


Glen oversees SIGMA’s sales and marketing activities. As a skilled presenter and trainer, he has designed and delivered engaging and entertaining workshops and webinars to help leaders and HR professionals enhance their understanding of how our products and services can be used to realize potential within their organizations.

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