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Employment Personality Test: Part 3

Written by Josh Millet

To finish off our discussion about personality tests, I wanted to discuss ways in which test developers are moving beyond the Big Five. The Big Five is sometimes too broad to predict work behaviors for specific jobs, where more fine-grained personality measures may be useful. For example, it has been shown that certain jobs such as sales positions are best performed by people with a set of personality characteristics that correspond to the work activities involved in sales jobs. Sales jobs often require cold-calling, initiating social interactions, prospecting, and building relationships. It won't be surprising to most people that qualities like assertiveness, extraversion, competitiveness, and self-confidence might be qualities that could help an individual perform well in such roles. For work in the field of customer service, on the other hand, qualities such as patience, cooperativeness, and personal diplomacy would be most important given the job activities of most customer service positions.

Because there is growing evidence of the predictive validity of personality measures for jobs such as sales and customer service, many test publishers have developed employment personality tests focused on these areas. For example, Criteria has a sales aptitude test and a customer service test that measure 18 different personality traits that predict performance in these jobs. These tests can have far greater utility than a Big-Five based test for a given position, because they provide much more targeted and fine-grained information based on the specific requirements of a given job. Because they have been customized to specific positions, the score reports for such tests are also typically easier to interpret than are general Big Five inventories. As personality research continues to advance, expect to see targeted, job-specific personality tests for a much wider range of positions in years ahead.

Josh Millet

Written by Josh Millet



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