An interesting article published by ABC News Radio came to my attention concerning the use of personality tests used in hiring – are they discriminatory?


Citing to a Wall Street Journal report, the article began with a lengthy description of an EEOC charge made by a hearing and speech-impaired woman who applied for a job as a cashier, bagger and stocker at a supermarket. She was required to take a 50-question "personality test," known as a "Customer Service Assessment," that would supposedly predict whether she would be friendly and communicate well with customers. She did not fare well — the test purportedly showed that she was less likely than other applicants to "listen carefully, understand and remember" and then suggested the job interviewer listen for "correct language" and "clear enunciation."  She was not hired and now claims disability discrimination.


This test, and others like it, have become commonplace – apparently almost one in five HR directors use them because they claim that personality tests can help predict job-related behavior or organizational fit.


But be careful if you choose to use them –  these tests can be potentially discriminatory because they may “disparately impact” certain groups, such as the hearing impaired, as noted above.  The ADA also prohibits employers from using a personality test involving a medical examination of an applicant’s physical or mental impairments or health before an offer is extended (although that can be done after a job offer has been extended).  Personality tests can also be attacked as being used to screen out protected classes if they are used improperly.