The Potentials of a Dialogical Reframing of Personality Testing in Hiring

Kathrine Møller Solgaard*, Morten Nissen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Personality testing is highly disputed, yet, widely used as a personnel selection tool. In most research, it is taken for granted that personality tests are used with the purpose of achieving a more objective assessment of job candidates. However, in Danish organizations the personality test is often framed as a ‘dialogue tool’. This paper explores the potentials of a dialogical reframing of the use of personality testing in personnel selection by analyzing empirical material from an ethnographic study of the hiring processes in a Danish trade union that declaredly uses personality tests as a dialogue tool. Through an affirmative critique we identify five framings that interact during the test-based dialogue: The ‘meritocratic’, ‘disciplinary’, ‘dialogical’, ‘pastoral’, and ‘con-test’ framing. Our study suggests that being committed to a dialogical reframing nurtures the possibility of focusing on what we call the ‘con-test’: Either as exploring the meta-competences of the candidate or as co-creating embryos through joint reflections on organizational issues. We argue that the long-lasting debates in the field of selection-related personality testing should be much more interested in the question of how personality tests in hiring are used, rather than whether or not they should be used.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Theoretical Psychologies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)104-122
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Personnel selection
  • Personality testing
  • Hiring tool
  • Dialogue tool
  • Affirmative critique

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