Psychometric vs. Personality Assessments - Are They the Same?

Posted by Mai Hoai Thu on

Numerous facets of a person's behaviour, cognitive preferences, and personality are evaluated and understood through valid assessments backed by scientific research. Two prominent examples of such evaluations are psychometric (for instance, Great People Inside's series of assessments) and personality (for instance, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI) assessments. 

Hang on, what are the differences between a psychometric assessment and a personality assessment? Are they interchangeable, or do they serve distinct purposes?

This blog post will deep dive into the fascinating world of these assessments, breaking down their distinct goals, methodologies, and applications.

Read more: Impacts of pre-hire assessments on candidate experience

Understand the Difference Between Psychometric Assessments and Personality Assessments


What are psychometric assessments and personality assessments?

Psychological measurement, or psychometrics for short, is a specialised field within psychology. Widely applicable in areas such as education, employment, and criminology, psychometrics plays a vital role in understanding human behaviour and capabilities.

Psychometric assessments use scientific and standardised examinations to measure different psychological traits and qualities of an individual to offer a quantitative evaluation in a valid, dependable, and objective way. Many characteristics can be evaluated with psychometric assessments, such as aptitude, emotional intelligence, cognitive ability, personality, and IQ.

By conducting standardised tests and surveys, these evaluations offer unbiased and dependable information, enabling HR professionals, managers, and organisations to make informed people-related decisions while helping to save time and reduce expenses linked to conventional selection techniques.

Personality is the essence of an individual, shaping their thoughts, emotions, and actions in remarkably predictable ways.

Personality assessments specifically focus on measuring behavioural traits. These assessments are designed to examine how individuals react in various situations compared to those around them. Through this type of evaluation, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their values, attitudes, and beliefs, all of which influence how they behave with others in their daily lives, both in professional and personal settings.

Read more: The HEXACO Model of Personality and Why It Matters

Personality assessments typically follow one of three fundamental frameworks:

  • Psychodynamic theory emphasises unconscious inner workings and mental patterns shaped by early life experiences.
  • Trait theory, which focuses on measuring the stability of attributes like extroversion and introversion that remain relatively fixed over time.
  • Socioanalytic theory evaluates personality in relation to social interactions and the need for power, achievement, or affiliation as a driver of interpersonal behaviour.

The framework used can influence the types of questions asked in an assessment and how the resulting profile is interpreted. Knowing which approach was used provides context for understanding the assessment results.

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Key differences between psychometric assessments and personality assessments

It is common for many to confuse both assessments as one due to some overlapping aspects. For instance, the ability of both psychometric and personality assessments to measure an individual's personality often leads to this confusion.

However, it is important to highlight that these are two distinct tools with unique characteristics and purposes. There are many differences that separate the two but here are three key differences:

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1. Scope

A psychometric assessment goes beyond the surface-level details found in resumes and interviews.

They encompass a broader range of psychological attributes, including personality, cognitive abilities (intelligence, memory, etc.), aptitudes (skills, talents), and attitudes, providing a more comprehensive picture of an individual's potential, personality, and motivations.

Besides being widely used for pre-hire purposes to streamline recruitment processes, the valuable insights gained from psychometric assessments also assist HR departments and hiring managers in identifying each individual's areas for growth and development. This, in turn, maximises the return on investment in recruitment efforts.

On the other hand, personality assessments, just like their name suggests, focus specifically on the individual's personality traits, preferences, and tendencies.

These assessments are designed to uncover the underlying motivations and emotional responses that drive a person's behaviour in various situations. They offer valuable insights into how individuals interact with the world around them, providing a window into their innermost thoughts and feelings.

Through the lens of a personality assessment, HR departments, individuals, and hiring managers can gain a deeper understanding of each individual and how they navigate the complexities of relationships, work dynamics, and personal growth. Then, this self-awareness can be harnessed to make informed decisions, build stronger connections with others, and cultivate a greater sense of authenticity in all aspects of their lives.

Read more: Here's How You Can Measure Emotional Intelligence With Science

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2. Data and validity

A psychometric assessment does not require extensive preparation beforehand, as it aims to evaluate individuals' inherent and authentic characteristics.

They typically use standardised questionnaires with quantitative scoring and analysis, allowing for comparison with established norms and benchmarks. Results are presented in detailed reports.

To ensure the validity of the results, they are compared to a representative sample of the population, such as those with similar job profiles. It is essential to administer the same assessment at least twice within a set interval to enhance accuracy and compare responses.

Read more: The Impacts of Behavioural Science On HR (Part 1)

The reliability of a psychometric assessment hinges on its ability to measure what it is intended to. Consistency in results, even after repeated administration at spaced intervals, confirms the validity of the assessment. These stringent scientific validation criteria set psychometric assessments apart from other pre-hire evaluation methods available.

Personality assessments can employ various formats, including questionnaires, self-reports, and observations. Analysis often involves categorising individuals into personality types with varying degrees of complexity and depth.

Ensuring the accuracy and consistency of personality assessments is crucial. While assessment providers may claim their solutions can assess various aspects, only those with documented evidence of validity and reliability can substantiate their claims.

This not only aids in predicting performance but also plays a pivotal role in ensuring fair and unbiased employment decisions. Validated and reliable personality tests do not show bias based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity. On the other hand, unvalidated and unreliable tests hold the potential for adverse consequences.

It is worth noting that free online personality tests can originate from various sources, making it challenging to verify their reliability. Proceed with caution when engaging in online personality assessments, especially if the results are intended for professional or personal decision-making.

Validity and credibility are crucial considerations when interpreting the outcomes of such tests, as relying on unreliable assessments can lead to detrimental selection errors and significant organisational costs.

Read more: Why the MBTI Personality Test Is as Useful as Astrology

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3. Applications

As mentioned earlier, psychometric assessments are used in various settings, including hiring, career counselling, education, clinical psychology, and research. They help identify strengths, weaknesses, and potential for specific roles or tasks.

By combining various dimensions, psychometric assessments can gauge an individual's compatibility with a team or organisational culture, their ability to handle stress, their level of leadership qualities, emotional resilience, interpersonal relationships, and more.

By providing objective, validated insights, psychometric testing enables evidence-based decisions across the employee lifecycle, from selection to development to engagement.

Read more: Confidently Make Hiring Decisions with Job Fit Solutions

On the other hand, personality assessments primarily aid self-awareness and optimise human interactions through a deeper understanding of people's innate tendencies and behaviours.

Personality assessments are primarily used to understand individual behaviour. Thus, they are suitable to be used in career guidance and self-awareness. They can also be used in recruitment and organisational development, as they can measure aspects like leadership potential and potential interpersonal conflicts to some extent.

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All in all, both assessments offer valuable tools for evaluation and understanding, but their strengths lie in different areas. Ultimately, the choice between these assessments depends on the company's specific needs and goals.

For a comprehensive evaluation of your potential across various aspects, psychometric assessments might be a better choice. They provide a deeper dive into cognitive abilities, aptitudes, and even specific attitudes relevant to particular roles or situations. Whether exploring career options, seeking educational placement, or undergoing clinical evaluation, psychometric assessments deliver insights beyond personality.

When understanding your core personality traits is key, personality tests work better. They help analyse your behavioural patterns, motivators, and emotional responses. This self-awareness can prove invaluable in navigating personal relationships, building effective teams, or simply gaining a deeper understanding of who you are at your core.

Interested in learning more about the assessments offered by TRG International?

As a trusted partner of Great People Inside (GPI), TRG International offers a range of psychometric-based assessments tailored for various talent management needs within organisations. With a vast library encompassing hundreds of dimensions, GPI's assessments cater to a diverse set of requirements, including recruitment, leadership identification, development, and more.

For an in-depth understanding of GPI's solutions, be sure to download the brochure today!

Download GPI brochure | Talent management

Topics: Talent Management

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 Rick Yvanovich
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