John Mac Ghlionn

Why companies should ditch personality tests

There’s nothing scientific about them

  • From Spectator Life
(iStock)

An increasing number of British companies are using personality tests to hire staff. Two of the more popular personality tests are the Big Five and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). There’s just one problem and it’s a rather big one: both of these tests are utterly scientifically useless. And Brits are being hired (or not hired) based on the results of these dubious tests.

Personality tests are a type of zombie falsehood. Despite their lack of scientific validity and numerous papers displaying their many failings, they just won’t die

Of the two, the MBTI appears to be more popular. The assessment comprises 93 forced-choice questions. It evaluates four distinct dichotomies: extraversion versus introversion; sensing versus intuition; thinking versus feeling; and judging versus perceiving. Each dichotomy leads to one of two preferences, and the combination of these preferences determines one of 16 personality types. Each personality type is represented by a unique combination of four letters, such as ISFJ (introverted, sensing, feeling and judging) or ENTP (extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving). Ostensibly, the results of this test can be used to match individuals with specific personality types to suitable roles.

However, research has found that the ‘the MBTI theory falters on rigorous theoretical criteria in that it lacks agreement with known facts and data, lacks testability, and possesses internal contradictions.’ In short, it’s entirely unscientific, which means it’s entirely unreliable. The same can be, and has been, said about the aforementioned Big 5. Which leads to the question: why are so many employers using personality tests in the hiring process?

Personality tests are a type of zombie falsehood. Despite their lack of scientific validity and numerous papers displaying their many failings, they just won’t die. Part of the reason is the Barnum effect where an individual mistakenly assumes that personality descriptions are exclusively applicable to them, named after the American showman P.T.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.

Or

Unlock more articles

REGISTER

Comments

Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in