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Frequently Asked Questions Assessment Policy

Are we allowed to use personality tests to assess candidates?

In short, OPM does not offer specific guidance to agencies on the use of personality tests to assess candidates.  Please check your agency's policies on using personality tests to assess candidates because policies may vary by agency.

 

In general, personality tests that are designed to measure work-related traits in normal adult populations are permissible.  The personality factors assessed most frequently in work situations include Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Openness to Experience.  As with any assessment tool used to make an employment decision, personality tests must meet the technical standards established in the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (http://uniformguidelines.com/).

 

It is important to recognize that some personality tests are designed to diagnose psychiatric conditions (e.g., paranoia, schizophrenia, compulsive disorders) rather than work-related personality traits.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) considers any test designed to reveal such psychiatric disorders as a "medical examination."  Examples of such medical tests include the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the Millon Clinical Multi-Axial Inventory (MCMI). 

 

Under the ADA, personality tests meeting the definition of a medical examination may only be administered after an offer of employment has been made.  The following memorandum, "OPM Adjudication of Psychiatric/Psychological Objections," contains further information on making the distinction between medical and non-medical psychological and personality tests: http://www.chcoc.gov/Transmittals/TransmittalDetails.aspx?TransmittalID=1742

 

For information on the validity and proper use of personality tests, see OPM's Assessment Decision Guide: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/assessment-and-selection/reference-materials/assessmentdecisionguide.pdf

 

For more information regarding the use of personality tests, please contact Assessment_Information@opm.gov.

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