Vetting Potential Hires with Personality Tests

March 10, 2015

For many companies recruiting new employees, a traditional one-on-one interview only tells part of a potential hire’s story. Some small businesses simply don’t have time to hold deep conversations with interviewees: one family-owned car wash in Kentucky said that it receives more than 1,000 applications each year.

In order to streamline its hiring process, Finish Line Car Wash turned to a personality assessment company called PeopleClues. The service’s 30-minute online test gives applicants a series of statements and then asks them to agree or disagree. The answers then help determine abstract qualities like the candidate’s assertiveness or dependability. PeopleClues also gives valuable information to a company’s hiring manager about what qualities to look for in a new employee. “We don’t want to just hire on a hunch or a good feeling,” said Chris Presswood, co-owner of Finish Line Car Wash.

Personality assessment companies like PeopleClues have grown significantly as businesses both large and small increasingly seek their services. One company called Success Performance has set revenue records for three years running and grew by 15 percent in 2014 alone. In the past, only the richest corporations could afford personality tests, and even then they were used sparingly. Today, though, the average online assessment costs around $400 per test, a good value for companies like Finish Line that are looking to cut down on hiring expenses. Still, not all personality tests look for the same qualities, so companies should be careful to choose the correct assessment for their business. Also, the rising use of these tests has led to an investigation from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to ensure they are not discriminatory. Personality assessment companies have defended their practices, with one test maker saying that they “can tell you if someone is more excitable than the next person, but not if they have a mental illness.”



  1. What type of companies would find tests such as PeopleClues particularly useful?
  1. What is the key to the EEOC accepting the validity of these tests?


Source: Alix Stuart, “Personality Tests and the Rise of the Hiring Machines,” Inc. February 2015. Photo by: Thomas Hawk.