Personality and psychometric testing in aviation recruitment

Existing methods for personality and psychometric testing in aviation leave much to be desired. Find out how you can improve your testing processes.


Personality and psychometric testing in aviation is an important factor in determining the suitability of potential new recruits. However, the current methods come with limitations.

In this piece, we’ll explore the importance of personality and psychometric testing in aviation, its drawbacks and possible improvements to current testing methods.

How do companies use personality and psychometric testing in aviation?

Aviation companies, flight schools and cadet programmes use personality and psychometric testing to discern whether candidates are capable of taking on the responsibility associated with working in this sector.

This includes consistent adherence to the comprehensive operational and safety standards required to keep airlines running efficiently, and with minimal risk to passengers. The latter is especially significant today, in light of the recent focus on mental health in aviation.

Airlines also use personality and psychometric testing to find out whether candidates align with their brand ethos, ethics and company values.

The tests themselves can comprise as many as 200 questions. These often query specific candidate skills and personality attributes from multiple angles, to create a more accurate overall picture.

Some aviation companies also choose to mix up the question volume and allotted time to prevent candidates from ‘gaming’ the system.

By changing the number and types of questions asked, candidates are prevented from systematically learning answers that could get them a job, regardless of their genuine personality traits.

What are the drawbacks of personality and psychometric testing in aviation?

Long-term analysis of traditional testing techniques has cast doubt on their true accuracy. Some of the drawbacks include:

  • Candidate classification is oversimplified: Applicants tend to get sorted into groups that don’t wholly reflect their personality and capabilities.
  • Lack of cultural sensitivity: Existing models tend to favour individuals similar to those who devised the test (often Western white males), with little scope for cultural subtleties.
  • Inability to test actual skills: Candidates can give answers they think aviation employers want to hear, rather than providing an accurate account.

Despite these drawbacks – and, the extent of administration required – personality and psychometric testing in aviation is still a crucial element of recruitment.

How can aviation companies improve their personality and psychometric testing?

The Myers-Briggs test was the first well-known personality test type, and it’s still used widely today.

However, this method lacks the relevant scientific theory and cultural sensitivity to provide an accurate overview of candidates in 2018.

Aviation recruiters should, therefore, try other, more contemporary test types that involve:

  • More targeted testing of specific skills, behaviours, abilities, and motivations
  • Repeated testing, with up to three tests per candidate focusing on different personality attributes
  • Benchmarking of current staff to define key attributes likely to lead to successful hires in future
  • Contributing questions/developing own tests to ensure fit with unique company requirements/values
  • Adapting the test with input from minority group advocates to overcome cultural bias

Alternatively, you can outsource the entire testing process to AeroProfessional to streamline your operational processes and reduce your administrative burden.

Hire aviation candidates that are the perfect fit for your airline by calling on AeroProfessional, the aviation recruitment experts.

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