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Tracey Arnold

Facet5 UK

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Five myths about personality profiling

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1. Can personality change be based on mood?

Personality profiling tools measure the core or DNA of personality. The underlying traits don’t really shift. Research shows that the re-test for reliability statistics of profiling are high. Changes can occur because of a life event which may have caused, for instance, an emotional trauma, and people do mature, but the default personality remains consistent. People also ask whether they can change their personality and the answer is no. Personality is enduring and tends to stabilise in the mid to late 20s. A person can choose to act or respond differently in certain situations but this is adapting behaviour not fundamentally changing personality.

2. Is there a right or wrong in personality testing?

No. All individuals are unique. The differences are what makes people interesting, but they also signal the areas of a character that might cause tension when working in a team. So it is beneficial to understand these traits and leverage this knowledge in the workplace. When personality testing is used for recruitment or selection, which involves a high stakes decision for the individual, people sometimes answer in a more mindful way and tone up or tone down what they think will be perceived as important (the three things people tend to tone up are appearing more extroverted, more organised and more resilient and able to manage stress levels). Even if they do this, the construct of a good personality test will mean it doesn’t distort the final result.

3. People from different cultures and countries can’t be compared

A good personality profiling tool that has been translated well and makes use of country-specific and cultural norms can provide an effective way of understanding/overcoming cross-country boundaries. No-one is saying this is ‘how all Brazilians will behave’ but there will be strong characteristics and traits that are consistent across different countries and cultures and an awareness of these helps to predict how such people may work in a group. Similarly, it is possible for, say, a German manager to see how their personality profile compares to the Chinese norm, so you can see how you might be perceived working there.

4. Is it correct/ethical to use personality profiling in the recruitment/selection process?

Yes, but it should never be used as a de-selection tool and it should only ever be part of the mix of information that helps to make the final decision. Personality drives behaviour and its importance can often be overlooked at the recruitment stage. It helps to provide insight into how a person might fit into a culture, role or team; how certain attributes might help or hinder them; and how a new hire can best be integrated.

5. Do some personalities make better leaders than others?

In short, no. Everyone has the capability to lead and has different views on what makes a leader. Personality profiling helps individuals understand themselves better and how they can lead people more effectively. Some people will have personality traits that mean they are more likely and comfortable to take a leadership role, but those who lack these can still develop good leadership skills, it just requires more effort. Profiling helps people to understand their strengths and weaknesses and then adjust their leadership style/behaviour to motivate others or better fit with an organisational culture.

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