Personality tests are very popular with Fortune 500 companies and large corporations, but many small-to-medium sized businesses still hesitate to begin a pre-employment testing program that includes them. Why don’t more businesses use one of the best tools for predicting performance of new hires?


Perhaps employers with smaller (or non-existent) HR departments have good reason to be more concerned about hiring with caution. Since their liability is much higher, fair and ethical hiring practices are a high priority – they can’t afford the cost of lawsuits associated with bad hiring practices. They may want to avoid evaluating candidates in new ways because they aren’t sure if it might result in inadvertent discrimination.


It’s common to be concerned that discrimination could occur through the use of pre-employment personality testing; perhaps this is what’s keeping them out of the game.


Let’s take a closer look at one common type of discrimination in the workforce: Age Discrimination. Do personality tests highlight generational difference between candidates? Could personality tests cause accidental age discrimination?

Age and Personality Test Results: Nothing to Worry About


We must admit there is a difference in personality traits with age. This won’t present itself in a discernible way on a candidate’s test results, however. The difference is very small – near negligible.

Although attitudes might vary greatly with age, attitude is not a valid predictor of performance. Further, attitudes are not measured in personality testing. No worries there.

Some might argue that a different report should be developed for different age groups. With the evidence showing such negligible differences in the report, however, it would not be worthwhile to do so. The individuals interpreting the report would have difficulty distinguishing differences in age based on the results!


Personality test results won’t differ much between age groups.


There is no adverse impact on race / ethnicity, gender, or age. You can learn more about the results of these validity studies in our PSI Manual.


What does change with age?


As mentioned above, one’s life experiences will result in a change in their attitudes over time. This, however, is not directly linked to a change in their personality, and will not be reflected on personality assessment results.


Mental ability also tends to decline with age.


A person’s personality traits may change slightly with age, but not in a discernible way. It’s common to experience higher openness, higher emotional stability, a slight upward tick in agreeableness and conscientiousness with age. Of course, this is all relative to the individual’s personality at the outset.


Everyone has a personality equilibrium. Very few life events can be traumatic enough in nature to alter someone’s personality long-term. As it happens, resilience in particular will lend itself to a person returning to their normal state after transient states (e.g. after the loss of a loved one, after an accident, after being active military and involved in live conflict.)


Our Advice to Businesses Interested in Using Personality Tests


Discrimination of all types, including age discrimination, is real and happens far more than is known by regulatory agencies. If you are a business dedicated to fair and ethical hiring practices, work diligently to understand the adverse impact of any of your hiring methodologies.


With Resource Associates personality testing, there is no adverse impact on race / ethnicity, gender, or age. You can learn more about our research on this topic and see our validity studies by reading our PSI Manual.


Additional Resources