Recruitment: How to Pass an Employment Personality Test

In today’s job market, it’s almost a given that you’ll be asked to take some kind of employment assessment when you apply for that dream job. Often it’s a type of personality test, generally referred to as a ‘survey’ as a way of softening its importance in the recruitment evaluation process.

Importance of Employment Assessments in Recruitment

Don’t be lulled into a sense of complacency – the decision to hire you over another candidate could very well hinge on the results of this employment test.

Who Are You wooden blocksEmployers have learned that most hiring managers size-up a candidate within the first minute of meeting them. Often the entire interview is based on this perception. As for the resume, studies have shown that 53% of all job applicants have out-right lied on their resumes. In addition, positive references are often given for the wrong reasons or by someone who is not thoroughly familiar with the applicant’s work accomplishments or persona.

It’s no wonder employers have turned to a plethora of pre-employment tests in the hopes of achieving a more objective way of talent acquisition. Besides personality assessments, there are also intelligence tests, cognitive assessments, skills tests (for typing, software, etc.), honesty tests, and selling skills assessments. Some employers may even ask that you meet with a psychologist before being offered a job.

Forced Choice Personality Profile Tests vs Free Choice Personality Profile Tests

If you’re asked to complete a personality ‘survey’, most likely, you’ll find yourself confronted with one of two basic types: Forced Choice Personality Profile Tests and Free Choice Personality Profile Tests Let’s compare the two…

Forced Choice Personality Profile Tests:

These types of personality tests are characterized by a list of questions, each requiring you to choose a specific answer. Some questions have simple yes/no answers while others have three or four between which to choose. A potential drawback to this type of test, is that I often hear people say, “I didn’t like any of the answers but I had to choose one.” However, an advantage to you, as the potential employee, is that you can increase your chances of providing answers that may get you hired. Keep in mind, the hiring manager is looking for someone with a communication style that will fit with their management style and existing team. Gather information about the hiring manager from online profiles and social media before taking any tests. The more you find out about the culture of the existing team the better. The more knowledge you have about the internal structure of the company and how it “clicks” the more likely you will know how to best answer each question.

Free Choice Personality Profile Tests:

With these types of personality tests, you are usually presented with a scientifically established list of adjectives and are asked to check the ones that apply to you or that you think others expect you to be. Most experts agree this free choice approach best replicates a real world environment and is therefore more accurate than forced choice tests. The assessment I’ve used for the past 30 years and am still using today, is Predictive Index®, the original free choice personality test. Created in 1955 by Arnold Daniels, Predictive Index is currently used by nearly 10,000 companies in 142 countries. This seemingly simple test takes less than 10 minutes to complete and is highly accurate. PI’s ability to correctly describe an individual’s work-related behavioral drives and needs has been backed by over 400 validity studies. Tests that don’t use questions, like the Predictive Index, do not have “correct” answers that vary by company. The Predictive Index simply offers a series of adjectives. There is nothing ‘leading’ about a group of simple words nor is there any research you as a potential employee can do beforehand to ensure choosing the correct answer. Rather we are inclined to check those adjectives that truly stimulate us in the context of who we think we are and how we perceive others see us.

So while it may be possible to tip the scales in your favor with some personality tests, it’s always best to answer as truthfully as possible. After all, you should want what the employer wants and that’s a good fit for the job.

Whatever test you find yourself taking it’s important to keep a couple things in mind…

First, there is no assessment tool that should be the sole reason a candidate is hired. Experience and special expertise are critical to the decision. Don’t get caught up in over-thinking personality tests. You’re there to present what you bring to the table and how you’re going to contribute to a company’s success if you get hired.

Second, if you’re not offered the job, there’s still the possibility you are a fit for another position within the company. Don’t hesitate to ask the hiring manager if he/she knows of another opening where you would be a better fit. Even if there isn’t realize this may extend the conversation. Use this as an opportunity to gain more insight into your personality profile.

After all, becoming truly self-aware is the best way to ‘prepare’ for personality tests. Know yourself. Know what comes most naturally to you. Know what your talents are. So when you do get the job and you’ve taken a personality test, you can be confident that you are scientifically predicted to be a great match and will perform successfully.

As a Senior Consultant for Predictive Index, I train managers how to administer and evaluate this powerful behavioral assessment, ultimately, helping them to make smart hiring and people management decisions.

To introduce you to the Predictive Index, I’d like to invite you to take the assessment yourself. I’m confident you’ll find its results both enlightening and actionable.






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jimbutton Strategic Planning Facilitator, Jim Gribble “The Strat Plan Guy”, has decades of experience helping all types of organizations achieve their goals. During the first part of his career he ran profit centers as large as $85 million for leading direct-to-consumer companies. Jim first learned the power of strategic planning in the 80’s as a Product Manager at Xerox. Next, at International Masters Publishers he led a strategic planning effort that guided the company’s growth from $30 million to over $120 million in just four years. As an independent consultant for the past 15 years, Jim has developed strategic plans and marketing programs that have resulted in tremendous success for many clients. You’re invited to learn more about what Jim can do to help your business or organization benefit from effective strategic planning.