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Do personality tests scare away candidates?

When talking with clients, a question that comes up periodically is whether or not personality and behavioral tests scare away potential candidates. The concern is that by the very nature of having a candidate jump through the additional hoop of a test in the hiring process, it may deter a potential hire. The short answer is, it might. There is a fine line between gathering the information you need to make a good hire, and creating a great candidate experience. There are two things to consider. The first is that while the concern of losing a potential good candidate is real, experience suggests that if someone does not want to take the time to take a test, he or she may not be worth your time. Second, if your test is too long and/or cumbersome, this may indeed cause a good candidate to look elsewhere before ever discovering how great your company is.

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In the first case, if a candidate isn’t willing to take the time to take a test to be considered by your organization, it’s unlikely that this would be someone you want working for you. Such unwillingness suggests a lack of passion and enthusiasm to work for your company. It also suggests a bit of laziness, or self-righteousness and ego—Traits we desperately want to avoid!

In the second case, there are test that are simply too long, and too cumbersome. Pages and pages of questions and hundreds and hundreds of checkboxes are frustrating. Candidates expect to jump through some hoops, but few care to be tested and grilled to the point of annoyance. Again, there is a fine line between getting the information you need and treating a candidate with dignity.

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What’s interesting is that the expectations around personality and behavioral test have radically changed in just the last ten years. Candidates are now expecting some type of behavioral and/or cognitive test. It’s considered normal. During a recent discussion among sales executives, one veteran commented that when looking for a job he is actually suspicious of an organization that doesn’t take the time to assess him. He went on to quip, “How do they know what they’re getting if they don’t assess me!” His off-the-cuff remark was very insightful. It reveals the changing times, as well as an almost complete reversal of how personality and behavioral assessments are viewed. He was essentially arguing, if a company doesn’t care enough to learn about me, why should I work for them.

While we need to be careful not to overburden a candidate, the very nature of having an a behavioral test raises the bar for your organization. These tests show that you care about your company and who you bring onboard. It also shows that you care about the candidate and that you want to do everything you can to get the right person into the right seat. Put another way, the very presence of these assessments acts like a pre-filter, setting a standard of excellence and professionalism. Done right, you’ll get the right person in the right seat.

Want more on behavioral and personality assessments? Check out our Ultimate Guide. 

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Thad is a senior marketing director at PI.

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