Companies have used personality tests for career advancement and sometimes hiring decisions for years, but the disruption to office culture from the COVID-19 pandemic has given them a new, added purpose, Emma Goldberg reports in Sunday's New York Times. Managers are turning to the roughly $2 billion personality testing industry to help them curate remote and hybrid work teams and keep workers engaged.
For individuals using some of the 2,000 personality assessment tools available today, they may provide some "earnest and indulgent" fun, "like an iPhone burst of selfies fused with the self-help section of an airport bookstore," Goldberg writes. But "some managers find them particularly useful for remote teams, because personality tests can prompt much-needed conversations about who workers are as humans, and how they like to interact" — for example, "whether they crave water cooler banter, or dread the holiday party."
Some companies that have turned to personality tests for recruiting efforts instead of résumés, like Canada's Scotiabank, say the change has led to a more diverse workforce. Personality testing can find "diamonds in the rough" who have natural ability rather than prestigious credentials, especially as companies go remote, Caitlin MacGregor, cofounder or testing company Plum, tells the Times. "For a long time, people were comfortable making decisions around talent based on face-to-face interactions," she said. "More and more companies have a distributed work force. It's harder than ever to get to know your people."
After talking with people in the industry and "taking every personality test I could find on the internet," Goldberg writes, she created her own test, using the two "Big Five" personality traits that "play a powerful role in shaping workplace behavior": extroversion, "the the degree to which social interaction energizes someone," and openness, or creativity and appetite for new experiences. (The other three are are conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism.) You can read about her own test results and take the Goldberg test at The New York Times.