You Might be Breaking the Law: The Problem with Using Personality Tests for Hiring

Is your pre-screening assessment introducing bias into your hiring process? Read this excerpt from our whitepaper to find out why you should rethink using a personality test for hiring.

Obviously, employers have every right to attempt to determine if applicants are likely to perform well.

According to some estimates in recent years, up to 70 percent of companies were relying on personality tests when making hiring decisions.

We have previously discussed the importance of questions that relate to work and test results that relate to performance for specific jobs. This not only makes assessment more effective, it provides you with strong legal standing related to your hiring practices. Being able to demonstrate that your hiring practices focus only on job performance factors is the most important means to protect yourself legally and to have ethical hiring practices. Assessments containing factors that are unrelated to performance for the specific job unfairly discriminate against applicants who don’t score well on those factors and often unfairly discriminate against race, gender and age. Therefore, the best rule of thumb related to legal compliance and ethical standards is to use only assessments that relate to job performance for your specific job. Interviews are considered a form of assessment and therefore many of the same rules apply to the types of questions you can ask during the interview.

Even if you happen to work in a country with minimal labor laws, unsound assessment practices hinder talent management by causing you to miss out on the best applicants or misevaluate employees. And, since assessments are used for making decisions that have a significant impact on other people’s lives, their use should have ethical consideration.Legal and ethical issues can be very subtle. For example, in the USA, you are not allowed to ask questions that violate privacy and therefore cannot ask questions about individuals’ private lives such as their childhood or private habits that are unrelated to employment. You also cannot ask about their marital status, children, health condition, disabilities or other similar things because such things don’t necessarily prevent an employee from performing well. These laws do not hinder you from doing effective assessments because they allow you to ask questions related to the applicant’s ability to perform specific tasks required for the job. For example, you can ask if the person can lift a certain amount of weight or type a certain number of words per minute, provided that this is required to perform in the job. You can also ask work-related behavioral questions and evaluate applicants related to those behaviors, provided those behaviors relate to performance for the specific job.

There are differing requirements for compliance in various countries and it is important to determine that the assessments and assessment process you are using comply with the regulations in your country.

The key questions you need to ask are:

  1. Does the assessment focus on factors that relate to performance for specific jobs? If not, you may be at risk.
  2. Does the assessment comply with all legal guidelines? For example, in theUnited States you must ensure you meet all EEOC requirements.
  3. Has the assessment been reviewed by an employment law firm to verify compliance?
  4. Has the assessment ever been challenged in court?

Using personality tests for hiring could be introducing issues or bias that you have not intended. Being able to demonstrate that your hiring practices focus only on job performance factors is essential in order protect yourself legally and to have ethical hiring practices.

Too read more, download the full whitepaper and checklist here:

Making Sense of the Assessment Nonsense- A Practical Checklist for Making Smart Assessment Decisions

Related reading:

EEOC Employment Tests and Selection Procedures

FindLaw: Personality Testing in Employment


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