Don’t Use Myers-Briggs or DISC to Test Sales Applicants

Five reasons you should not use Myers-Briggs, DISC, or other personality tests to assess sales candidates.

personality assessments do not work in selecting salespeople

Reason #1: They don’t work.

Personality tests such as Myers-Briggs and DISC are only 20-22% predictive of a sales applicant’s success. A coin toss might be 50/50. The best assessments are 70 to 90% predictive.

In a recent post in The Economist’s blog, Marcus Buckingham, author of Nine Lies About Work” and former senior researcher for Gallup, reports research shows “almost all personality tests show no….predictive criterion-related validity.”

Furthermore, he says the research has “not been shown that candidates who perform ‘better’ on a particular personality test perform better or stay longer on the job.”

Reason #2: These assessments don’t test the right things.

Personality tests don’t test the right attributes. No one personality is best for sales. Researchers have found that the best sales performers don’t share the same personalities or behaviors. Therefore, a test for the “sales personality” is not useful.

As you may have seen yourself, in every profession, excellent performers are unique. They will use different styles and methods. As an example, Buckingham explains that just as the best nurses don’t behave with the same personalities, the best salespeople and leaders also have different behaviors and personalities.

Reason #3: They give unreliable, flawed results.

A recent New York Times article compared personality tests to the astrology of the office,” both due to their lack of validity, and “because it’s fun to divide people into categories.” These types of tests lack reliability. In testing, reliability means a person can take the test at two different times and get the same result.

With personality tests, test-takers will often provide answers they think the employer wants to hear. The ability to fake the results means the results are not trustworthy.

Reason #4: These tests bring a legal hazard.

Personality tests can result in claims of discrimination. Some individuals have successfully sued employers by claiming the employer’s personality test discriminated against them.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently reached separate conciliation agreements with Best Buy and CVS Caremark Corporation. Both companies had used personality tests in pre-employment testing. The EEOC found probable cause that the companies used personality tests, which adversely affected certain applicants based on their race and national origin.

Reason #5: The producers don’t recommend these assessments as pre-hire tests.

DISC and Myers-Briggs both think that’s a bad idea – even illegal to use their assessments as pre-hire tests.

And that’s important enough to repeat:

“DiSC is not recommended for pre-employment screening because it does not measure a specific skill, aptitude, or factor specific to any position. We’ve heard of companies who will only hire people with a particular style for certain jobs. This is a misuse of DiSC. We recommend using a pre-hire assessment validated for selection.” Source:

“…It is not ethical to use the MBTI instrument for hiring…” Source: Myers & Briggs Foundation Guidelines

When the testing company you’re using says “don’t use us,” we suggest you listen.

The Pre-Hire Assessments Best for You

If you shouldn’t use behavior and personality tests as pre-hire assessments, what should you use? To get the answer, download our free Summary Guide on Finding the Right Sales Assessment Test for your Sales Candidates.

Posted in Pre-hire Sales Assessments