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Personality Tests and Employment Discrimination, Part 1

A hearing and speech-impaired woman recently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that an employer discriminated against her based on the results of a personality test. Personality tests are a common recruiting tool and the results can sometimes mean the difference between a new job opportunity and a rejection.

This is the first of a two-part series that will look at personality tests in the workplace and the potential for illegal disability discrimination when employers use them improperly. Check back later in the week for a closer look at the allegations of this and other personality test lawsuits.

Almost 20 percent of human resource professionals told a recent survey that they use some type of personality test when evaluating candidates. Over half of the respondents used tests when hiring mid-level managers. Some employers believe that personality tests help develop a more complete sense of a candidate’s ability to succeed in a position.

Critics, however, argue that the tests do not really give employers useful information. Questions exist about methodological reliability and, more fundamentally, about whether a test can ever capture a person’s real-world response to a unique situation.

While personality tests might not help employers, lawsuits are beginning to examine the conditions under which one of these tests could constitute disability discrimination. Our next post will take a closer look at this issue.

Source: ABC News, “Woman Sues Over Personality Test Job Rejection,” Abby Ellin, Oct. 1, 2012

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