Can Potential Employer Require Personality Test?

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(File photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

(File photo: Joe Raedle/ Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Can a company legally require you to take a personality test – and then not hire you because of it?

A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found a person’s Facebook profile can reveal – with strong accuracy – what kind of employee a person will make. Based on a personality rating scale, employers can learn about your conscientiousness, extroversion, and agreeableness.

Despite the free look into a potential employee’s mindset, many employers actually go the complicated and expensive way to find out: they conduct personality tests before hiring someone. Is that legal?

Unless a pre-employment personality test seeks information about a mental or physical impairment, employers may use them to determine whether an applicant will be a good fit for the job. An employer can’t ask questions that focus on the existence or extent of a disability, but are well within their legal rights to use them to determine whether an individual’s traits are compatible with either the job requirements or corporate culture.

Some dispute the accuracy of personality tests – and also their necessity, particularly in light of Facebook profiles that discuss a jerky boss right there. But employers who choose to determine common sense based on a Myers Briggs, predictive index, or other test rather than looking at a picture of an applicant with funnel in hand, are allowed to do so.

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