The potentials of a dialogical reframing of personality testing in hiring




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


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.

Author Biographies

Kathrine Møller Solgaard, Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School

Kathrine Møller Solgaard is currently an industrial PhD fellow at the Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, employed in a Danish HR consultancy, Konsulenthuset ballisager. Her research is based on ethnographic fieldwork and centres on how versions of the ‘ideal candidate’ are constructed during hiring processes.

Morten Nissen, Department of Education, Aarhus University

Morten Nissen is professor at the Department of Education, Aarhus University, chair of the research program ‘Rearticulating the Formation of Motivation’ ( He mostly studies practices of social work with theories of subjectivity, collectivity, and aesthetics. See




How to Cite

Solgaard, K. M., & Nissen, M. (2021). The potentials of a dialogical reframing of personality testing in hiring. International Review of Theoretical Psychologies, 1(2).



Subjectivities, acceleration and applied psychology