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Personality Evaluation of Employees Essay

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Literature Review

The personality of the people in the organization is very important to understand. This is primarily because there are close links between the culture of the organization and individual personality. There are different areas of human resources management where the personality of individuals plays a crucial role in making decisions. They include recruitment process, performance evaluation, promotion and succession planning, team building, etc. This essay traces the literature on personality and personality evaluation of employees, which are relevant to modern human resource professionals.

The literature on recruitment and selection of employees show that individuals prefer working in organizations whose culture matches their personality (Judge and Cable 1997). Early personality theories said that it could be measured by the observation of traits. Personality is that which tells a person what to do in a given situation based on the traits or characters that an individual holds (Cattel 1943). His research found a two-tiered personality structure with sixteen “primary factors” (16 Personality Factors) and five “secondary factors.”

The American Psychiatric Association has defined personality as personality traits that are “enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal contexts” (APA 2000). Theorists generally assume

  1. traits are relatively stable over time,
  2. traits differ among individuals (e.g. some people are outgoing while others are shy), and
  3. traits influence behaviour.

Another theory that gained prominence among the trait theories are the Big Five theory by Lewis Goldberg, who proposed a five-dimension personality model:

  1. Extraversion – outgoing and stimulation-oriented vs quiet and stimulation-avoiding
  2. Neuroticism – emotionally reactive, prone to negative emotions vs calm, imperturbable, optimistic
  3. Agreeableness – affable, friendly, conciliatory vs aggressive, dominant, disagreeable
  4. Conscientiousness – dutiful, playful, and orderly vs laidback, spontaneous, and unreliable
  5. Openness to experience – open to new ideas and change vs traditional and oriented toward routine (Robbins et al. 2008)

Another theory that concentrates on psychological type theory views differentiates personality as being orderly and consistent. This was first found by Carl Jung and William Marston. These differences are due to basic differences in the way individuals prefer to use their perception and judgement (Siegel, Smith and Mosca 2001). Perception (P) is the preference that relates to living in a spontaneous and flexible way, with the ability to stay open to new information. Perception in this framework refers to the sensing and intuition mental functions as different ways of attending to and gathering information. Sensors (S) rely on information that is practical and has useful applications.

These are oriented in the present and focus on living life as it is. People who prefer intuition (N) pay attention to their insights and look for underlying meanings or relationships. They are future-oriented and focus on making changes (Hirsh and Kummerow 1993). Judgement (J) involves an orderly planned approach to conclusions about what we perceive. Judgement, in this framework, refers directly to the mental processes of thinking and feeling, which are both rational ways of making decisions and reaching conclusions. To people who prefer thinking (T), it is the logical reasons and consequences that are important in making a decision.

On the other hand, to people who prefer feeling (F), that which is of personal value to them and to others is the key in making a decision. While Thinking types have and use values and emotions to decide, these are used only to support their logical conclusions. While Feeling types use logic and reason to decide, these are used only to support their values-based conclusions (Hirsh and Kummerow 1993).

According to psychological type theory, people are also energized in two ways. People with a preference for extraversion (E) draw energy from the outer world – people, events, and things in their environment. People with a preference for introversion (I) draw energy from their inner world of ideas, emotions, and impressions (Siegel, Smith and Mosca 2001). Based on these preference descriptions, there are 16 personality types that can be measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). MBTI is a self-report questionnaire designed to quantify non-psychopathological personality types as postulated in Jung’s psychodynamic type theory (Boyle 1995).

Four dichotomous dimensions classify individuals either as extraverted (E) or introverted (I), sensing (S) or intuitive (N), thinking (T) or feeling (F), and Judging ( J) or perceiving (P). Combinations of the four preferences determine personality types (Myers et al., 2003). Each individual is classified in terms of one of 16 possible four-letter codes (such as ESFJ, ENFP, INTP, and ISFJ). Each type is said to define a specific set of behavioural tendencies, reflecting differences in attitudes, orientation, and decision-making styles.

Psychoanalytic theories explain human behaviour in terms of the interaction of various components of personality. Sigmund Freud was the founder of this school (Robbins et al., 2008). This theory proposed that psychic energy could be converted into behaviour. Freud’s theory places central importance on dynamic, unconscious psychological conflicts. Freudian theory segregates human personality into three noteworthy components: the ego, superego, and id.

The id acts according to the pleasure principle, demanding immediate gratification of its needs regardless of the external environment; the ego then must emerge in order to realistically meet the wishes and demands of the id in accordance with the outside world, adhering to the reality principle. Finally, the superego inculcates moral judgment and societal rules upon the ego, thus forcing the demands of the id to be met not only realistically but morally. The superego is the last function of the personality to develop and is the embodiment of parental/social ideals established during childhood. According to Freud, personality is based on the dynamic interactions of these three components (Carver and Scheier 2004)

Research has shown that the personality of an individual correlates to various organizational factors such as culture, structure, compensation, etc. Personality tests are used in understanding the personality in various HR functional areas. Response bias continues to be the most frequently cited criticism of personality testing for personnel selection. The authors meta-analyzed the social desirability literature, examining whether social desirability functions as a predictor for a variety of criteria, as a suppressor, or as a mediator. Social desirability scales were found not to predict school success, task performance, counterproductive behaviours, and job performance. Correlations with the Big Five personality dimensions, cognitive ability, and years of education are presented along with empirical evidence that

  1. social desirability is not as pervasive a problem as has been anticipated by industrial-organizational psychologists,
  2. social desirability is in fact related to real individual differences in emotional stability and conscientiousness,
  3. social desirability does not function as a predictor, as a practically useful suppressor, or as a mediator variable for the criterion of job performance.

Removing the effects of social desirability from the Big Five dimensions of personality leaves the criterion-related validity of personality constructs for predicting job performance intact (Ones, Viswesvaran and Reiss 1996). Further research has also shown that the culture and structure of the organization are also affected by individual personality and vice versa (Carver and Scheier 2004). Research on personality testing has shown that they are a successful means of understanding the personality trait to the type of individual on the basis of which the HR-related decision are taken (Johnston, Goffin and Rothstein 1996). Further person-culture and person-situation fit has been very important factors for making the right selection choice during interviews (O’reilly, Chatman and Cadwell 1991)

Furnham, Crump, and Whelan (1997) showed that the five factors and the sub-scales of the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI) were correlated with assessments of 10 dimensions of management capability of managers taking part in personal profiling exercise.

Ten consultants used the data from two in-depth interviews and a battery of personality and ability tests to rate each individual manager. A clear pattern emerged with conscientiousness and extraversion having the strongest and most frequent correlations with the ratings and agreeableness least. The personality factors correlated strongly and consistently with some ratings (e.g. drive to achieve, intuition, resilience) but less clearly with others (e.g. conceptual ability, interest in the business). Overall the results provide good concurrent validity evidence for the NEO-PI. Results are discussed in terms of other research in the area.

The above literature review shows that the area of personality in an organizational context has been widely discussed. This review of literature will help in understanding the different area of personality that is important for HR personnel. This review of literature gives a fair idea of personality theories and their uses in the workplace. Recruiters use personality along with other tools for determining whom to hire during the selection procedure across countries in Europe (Tixier 1996 ).

Case Analysis

Consideration of the personality of candidates during the selection process is important as it provides the compatibility of individuals with the culture of organizations. Effective recruitment processes use personality assessment to enhance their decision-making about the potential of applicants. No recruiter wants to spend time on a low potential applicant. The more information available, the more efficient and accurate a recruiter can be with referrals (Ones, Viswesvaran and Reiss 1996, Johnston, Goffin and Rothstein 1996). Alice needs to take a personality test as it will provide constructive data regarding understanding the recruitment situations and then assess personality.

Yes, I believe that the personality test is a viable way of understanding organization and job fit (O’reilly, Chatman and Cadwell 1991). Personality predicts how a person will work—diligently, intelligently, cheerfully, and cooperatively. Personality affects the style or manner in which a person approaches his/her work; to the degree that a person must work with others—clients or fellow employees—this style matters greatly. Angry, moody, unhappy, stress-prone employees contaminate the workplace and ruin staff morale (Tixier 1996 ). Further personality tests will help Alice understand if Jane fitted the culture of the organization (Judge and Cable 1997). This is important as Alice had a hinge regarding the personality of Jane, which according to her, would mismatch with her immediate boss, who is an extreme introvert.

Other contexts where personality testing may be important are as follows:

  1. Leadership development: leaders are important for organizations. It is important to have proper succession planning in organizations that establish an employee in the top position (Furnham, Crump and Whelan 1997).
  2. In order to attract new employees, it is important to know the personality of the individual so that the person can be motivated.
  3. To motivate employees, it is important to know their personality so that the nature of motivating the person to improve performance.


APA. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Diagonistic Codes, American Psychiatric Association , 2000.

Boyle, Gregory J. “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): Some Psychometric Limitations.” Humanities & Social Sciences papers, 1995: 1-8.

Carver, C., and M. Scheier. Perspectives on Personality (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson, 2004.

Cattel, R.B. Persoanlity and Motivation Structure and Measurement. Yonkers-on-Hudson: NY: World, 1943.

Furnham, Adrian, John Crump, and Josh Whelan. “Validating the NEO Personality Inventory using assessor’s ratings.” Personality and Individual Differences 22(5), 1997: 669-675.

Hirsh, S.K., and J.M. Kummerow. Introduction to Type in organisations.. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, 1993.

Johnston, NG, Richard D. Goffin, and Richard Rothstein. “Personality testing and assessment center: Incremental validity for managerial section.” Journal of Applied Psychology 81(6), 1996: 746-56.

Judge, Timothy A., and Daniel M. Cable. “Applicant Personality, Organizational Culture, and Organizational Attraction.” Personal Psychology 50, 1997: 359-395.

Myers, I.B., M.H. McCaulley, N.L. Quenk, and A.L. Hammer. MBTI Manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Palo Alto, California: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2003.

Ones, Deniz S., Chockalingam Viswesvaran, and Angelika D. Reiss. “Role of social desirability in personality testing for personnel selection: The red herring.” Journal of Applied Psychology. Vol 81(6), Dec, 1996: 660-679.

O’reilly, Charles, Jennifer Chatman, and David F. Cadwell. “Peaople and Organizational Culture: A profile comparisson approach to assessing person-organization fit.” Academy of Management Journal 49(3), 1991: 487-516.

Robbins, S. P., T. A. Judge, B. Millett, and T. Waters-Marsh. Organisational Behaviour (5nd eds.). Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education, 2008.

Siegel, P.H., J.W. Smith, and J.B. Mosca. “Mentoring relationships and interpersonal orientation.” Leadership & Organisation Development Journal, 22(3), 2001: 114-125.

Tixier, Maud. “Employers’ recruitment tools across Europe.” Employee Relations 18(6), 1996 : 69-80.

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