Personality Tests: The ULTIMATE Interview Guide for Any Candidates
Updated July 21, 2023
- What Is a Personality Test?
- Which Personality Tests Do Employers Use?
- What Personality Traits Are Employers Looking For?
- How Is a Job Personality Test Taken?
- Personality Test Example Questions
- How Long Does It Take to Complete a Personality Test?
- How to Prepare for a Personality Test
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Personality tests are a common way for employers to get a better idea of your personality and your suitability for their role. With so many different types of tests out there, preparing for one can be difficult. However, we’ve gathered all the information you need to pass your test with flying colors. Read on to find out more!
If you're applying for a job, there is a good chance you'll be asked to take a personality test as part of the hiring process.
These assessments have become popular among employers who want to ensure they choose the most appropriate candidates for specific positions, especially if it's a high-demand role.
This article offers a detailed guide on personality tests for jobs, including how they're taken, examples and how to prepare for them, regardless of which type of test you're taking.
Let’s get started by looking at exactly what a personality test is.
Employers utilize a job personality test during the recruitment process as a tool to look at the personality traits of candidates. The tests are devised to screen candidates to ensure that they have the ethical and psychological profile needed for the role to achieve effective job performance.
Understanding what a potential employer wants to accomplish with the psychometric personality test they use during their recruitment process is the key to performing well on the career personality test.
Personality tests measure the patterns of the characteristics showcased in diverse situations or conditions. Employers are looking for candidates exhibiting behavioral traits that align with their organization and current employees' culture. Those that match these traits have a higher chance of being more successful in landing the desired position.
The desired traits are determined based on the employers' requirements and the test developers' recommendations. The latter are developed using years of research and analysis of representative samples of candidates applying for specific positions. To ensure that each characteristic is measured accurately, there are typically several questions related to just one trait.
There are two types of personality tests:
- Projective tests
- Self-report inventories
Projective testing is a performance-based evaluation. It relies on defense mechanisms called projection to assess candidates' cognitive processes.
The tests involve showing a series of cards to the candidates, who are encouraged to project how they feel about the image displayed on the card.
They might be asked to complete a sentence, tell a story or interpret the image to reveal how the candidates process information.
The answers are compared to a specific scoring system used for each specific personality test.
Self-report inventories are objective tests for assessing candidates' personalities. They are a questionnaire with standardized questions, together with response categories candidates are required to complete independently.
The questions on the job personality test are either multiple-choice items or numbered scales (going from 1 to 5 or from 'strongly disagree' to 'strongly agree'). Self-report inventories are the most popular among employers as they're easy to administer and cost-effective.
However, they come with the increased likelihood of candidates being tempted to answer intentionally or unintentionally in a way that makes them more socially desirable candidates.
They might provide exaggerated, misleading or biased answers.
There are several popular personality tests that employers commonly use during the hiring process to assess candidates.
These tests provide insights into an individual's personality traits, work preferences and behavioral tendencies.
Here are some of the top personality tests frequently utilized by employers:
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): The MBTI is a widely recognized and utilized personality assessment that categorizes individuals into one of 16 personality types based on their preferences in four dimensions: extraversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. It is often used to assess communication styles, decision-making processes and team interactions.
DISC Assessment: The DISC assessment categorizes individuals into one of four primary behavioral styles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. It helps employers understand how candidates communicate, handle conflict, and work in a team setting.
Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI): The HPI assesses an individual's personality traits in relation to work performance and potential career derailment risks. It measures various dimensions, such as ambition, sociability, prudence, and inquisitiveness, to predict job performance and identify potential areas of concern.
Caliper Profile: The Caliper Profile is a comprehensive assessment that evaluates personality traits, motivations, and potential job-related strengths and weaknesses. It helps employers gain insights into candidates' leadership potential, problem-solving abilities, and work style preferences.
16PF (Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire): The 16PF assesses personality traits across 16 primary factors, including factors such as dominance, sociability, anxiety, and self-control. It provides a detailed picture of an individual's personality traits and can be useful for evaluating job fit and potential areas of strength or development.
Saville Assessment Wave: The Saville Assessment Wave is a comprehensive assessment tool that measures personality traits, cognitive abilities, and work styles. It provides employers with insights into candidates' behavioral preferences, decision-making style, and potential areas of development.
StrengthsFinder: While not strictly a personality test, StrengthsFinder helps identify an individual's top strengths and talents. It focuses on positive attributes and is often used to understand how candidates can contribute to a team or organization based on their unique strengths.
It's worth noting that different employers may have their preferences or utilize a combination of these assessments, depending on their specific needs, industry and organizational culture.
Additionally, employers may also develop or utilize customized personality assessments tailored to their specific job requirements.
When employers ask candidates to take a job personality test, they typically look for a range of personality traits that align with the specific requirements of the position and the company culture.
While the specific traits sought may vary depending on the organization and role, here are some commonly desired personality profiles:
- Emotional Intelligence
- Communication Skills
- Leadership Potential
- Problem-Solving Skills
- Teamwork and Collaboration
- Integrity and Ethics
It's important to note that different hiring managers may prioritize different traits depending on their specific needs and the nature of the role.
While personality tests vary in their approach, many job personality tests are based on the 'Big Five’ personality traits.
The ‘Big Five’ personality traits, also known as the Five-Factor Model (FFM), are a widely accepted framework used to describe and measure human personality.
These traits encompass broad dimensions of personality that are believed to capture the most important and universal aspects of individual differences.
The Big Five traits are as follows:
Openness to Experience: This trait reflects a person's openness, curiosity, and willingness to explore new ideas, experiences, and perspectives. Individuals high in openness tend to be imaginative, creative, open-minded, and receptive to new challenges.
Conscientiousness: Conscientiousness refers to the degree of organization, responsibility, dependability, and self-discipline a person exhibits. Individuals high in conscientiousness are typically diligent, thorough, goal-oriented, and reliable.
Extraversion: Extraversion measures the extent to which a person seeks social interaction, stimulation, and enjoys being in the company of others. Extraverts are generally outgoing, assertive, sociable, and energetic. Introverts, on the other hand, are more reserved, introspective, and prefer solitary activities.
Agreeableness: Agreeableness reflects a person's tendency to be kind, cooperative, compassionate, and considerate towards others. Individuals high in agreeableness are typically empathetic, nurturing, trusting, and value harmonious relationships. Those low in agreeableness may be more competitive, assertive, and less concerned with pleasing others.
Neuroticism: Neuroticism (sometimes referred to as Emotional Stability) refers to the degree of emotional stability, resilience, and proneness to negative emotions. Individuals high in neuroticism are more likely to experience anxiety, mood swings, and emotional reactivity. Those low in neuroticism tend to be calm, even-tempered, and less prone to negative emotional states.
While the Big Five traits are commonly assessed in job personality tests, it's worth noting that employers may prioritize certain traits over others based on the specific requirements of the job.
Additionally, employers may use different personality assessments or inventories that measure a wider range of personality traits beyond the Big Five.
The goal is to identify candidates whose personality characteristics align with the desired competencies for the job, team dynamics, and company culture to help with hiring decisions.
Personality tests are usually taken on a computer or mobile device at testing centers or at the candidates' homes. A few career assessments are still taken in paper form at a test center.
For the tests taken on computers, the recruiting company will send an invite to the test and allocate the frame within the assessment that must be taken.
The most prominent advantage of computer-based personality tests is that they can be scored immediately, and the results are available for the recruiters within a short period of time.
However, candidates are rarely provided with the results, although they can request that the recruiter provides them with their score profile.
Once the recruiters receive the candidates' test results can then decide whether or not it is a good idea to recruit the candidate.
If they determine a candidate to be a good fit, they will invite them to a job interview. During the interview, recruiters can verify that the candidate's personality matches their answers on the test.
While there are plenty of online samples to practice with, you'll be provided with a few examples of the types of questions you might face to help you get started.
Remember that there are no wrong answers in the traditional sense. Employers typically interpret the results in a holistic manner and consider the overall fit rather than seeking specific ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ answers.
It's important to approach personality tests honestly and provide responses that accurately represent your thoughts and behaviors.
Rate the following statement based on how much it matches your personality.
I like meeting new people.
a) Strongly Agree
b) Somewhat Agree
d) Somewhat Disagree
e) Strongly Disagree
Select the answer to the following question:
Have you been unjustly blamed for someone else's mistakes at your former workplace? If yes, what did you do?
a) I clarified the situation by letting the employer know it wasn't my mistake.
b) I let the person who made the mistake know that they should clarify the situation.
c) I didn't express my concern about being blamed for someone else's error, as the person in question did the same for me in the past.
d) I was afraid to let the employer know that it wasn't my mistake due to concerns about disturbing the workflow.
Answer the following question based on your sentiments about it:
Do you consider setting up long-term goals a priority in your professional life?
a) No, It chooses to focus on short-term goals.
b) I try to keep up the balance between my short-term and long-term professional goals.
c) Yes, I think long-term goals are more important. I tailor my short-term targets to fit my larger goals.
Answer the following question:
Do you like solving complex problems?
a) No, I prefer completing simple tasks.
b) I thrive in a role where I can use my problem-solving skills.
c) I don't particularly like solving complex problems – but I will take them on if needed.
Rate the following statement based on the degree you agree with it:
I often feel overwhelmed by the extensive workload.
a) Strongly agree
b) Somewhat agree
d) Somewhat disagree
e) Strongly disagree
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The length of a job personality test can vary significantly.
Some can take just a few minutes and can be easily completed in 10 minutes. Others can be up to an hour long and require you to answer dozens of questions from different categories.
In addition, the allocated time frame within which you must complete the test also varies.
Some assessments leave less than a minute per question, while others have no time limit.
The results of a personality type test are generated instantly after completing the last answer in most tests.
How to Prepare for a Personality Test
Personality tests require specific preparation to ensure the best results.
Here are some suggestions:
There are numerous examples of an online personality test that can help candidates to understand more about themselves.
Practicing them can help you familiarize yourself and prepare for the style of the questions you have on the real-life personality type test.
They'll also help you get more used to the test process. You can find free personality tests, while others are paid.
The latter could be an excellent investment into a career development opportunity.
Whichever type of test you opt for, make sure to take those that are required by the employer you're applying for.
The different employers utilize different personality tests and question formats, so the closer is the practice tests to the real ones, the better. Some examples of tests are:
- Insights Personality Test
- Disc Personality Test
- INFJ Personality Test
- Meyer Briggs Personality
- Enneagram Personality Test
However, these are only a small selection of the many personality tests out there.
Practicing specific tests will help you answer the question better, explore your personality and maximize your potential for obtaining your dream job. Sites with practice tests also offer guidance on preparation and passing the test successfully.
Many tests are taken under timed conditions. Ensuring that you practice in a way that helps you prepare for the test conditions is vital for success.
Look into what time limit you'll have on the real-time test and aim to match it while practicing.
You might have to work on your time management skills to answer the questions within your allocated time limit.
To do that, start by setting a longer time frame you're comfortable with. Once you've become confident answering questions within this time limit, start narrowing it down slowly.
Complete the personality type test in a shorter time, then further reduce the time. Repeat this until you've mastered answering questions within the real-life test's time limit.
Candidates need to understand what recruiters are looking for. Each employer is looking for something new and potential for making their company grow.
They seek candidates whose personalities can help the company increase its bottom line while working together with other employers to create a harmonious and productive work environment for everyone.
Understanding what a potential employer looks for in candidates can help you answer the questions by showcasing the required skills, although your answers must be honest.
Seeking what recruiters want will also enable you to see whether you're the right fit for the role.
If you aren't, you can save yourself the trouble of taking the test and focus on finding more suitable positions.
Otherwise, you'll be taking a test, fail it, won't be invited to a job interview – and will have to look for a different position anyway.
It is vital that any laptop, mobile device, WiFi connection and any other technical equipment you might need on the tests functions appropriately.
There is nothing more painful than for candidates to lose connection in the middle of a test and fail because of it.
While some employers will allow you to retake the assessments if you have technical difficulties the first time, this isn't always the case.
Check your equipment during the practice tests to ensure they'll be up to the task during the real-time assessment.
Most recruiters recommend taking computer-based tests only on a PC or laptop, as other mobile devices increase the chances of errors.
Personality tests can be affected by little health aspects like illness, tiredness, hunger and thirst.
Ensuring well-being is very important for optimizing your performance on any assessment. Have plenty of rest the night before taking the career tests, as this will improve your focus.
Aim to have at least 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep. Staying hydrated is also crucial, so drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and activities that lead to dehydration before the test.
Have a balanced meal two hours before the assessment to maintain your energy levels and ensure you won't be distracted by hunger or digestion-induced fatigue.
Take care of your health by eating healthy, being physically active and going for regular checkups.
Personality tests for job recruitment measure certain desirable personality traits in candidates applying for a specific role.
They are popular screening methods for companies looking for distinct characteristics in candidates for high-profile positions.
Career personality tests aren't meant to be very challenging. However, many candidates have trouble scoring well due to unpreparedness.
Another reason you might find a career personality test hard is that you aren't sure how to answer the questions.
You can prepare for career personality tests by practicing with online test samples.
Since most personality tests are computer-generated assessments, completing mock tests in this form will help you familiarize yourself with the test format, question type and information that'll be required of you on the real-time test.
For the best results, research which tests you'll be taking, so you can prepare for that specific one.
Career personality tests come in different formats. Some are timed, while others aren't.
Whether an assessment will be timed and how short the time limit will depend on the employer's requirements and the recommendations of the test manufacturer.
The key to passing a career personality test is preparation. After learning which assessments you'll be required to take as part of a job recruitment process, you'll need to start practicing them.
Look into what a potential employer requires from its employees personality-wise to understand what the recruiters will be looking for on the test.
Hone your time management skills and work on your personality strengths and weaknesses. Last but not least, take care of your well-being so you can focus on performing to the best of your abilities.
Career personality tests are usually part of the job recruitment or onboarding process as they have the purpose of ensuring the candidates are the right fit for a position or company.
They help employers narrow down their candidate lists and applicants to find the most suitable jobs according to their attributes.
Focus on answering the highest number of questions within the allocated time frame.
Answer questions honestly, even if you feel that your responses might contradict what employers look for.
Don't try to fake your answers, as this will be revealed during the job interview and won't help you land the position anyway.
You can find example questions for career personality tests on all websites offering help for personality assessments for adults.
Some have free samples for practice, while others only provide paid mock tests.
JobTestPrep has example questions for personality assessments.
While there are pass or fail scores for career personality tests, recruiters will only consider candidates who are shown to be the best fit for a particular role based on their answers.
The answers are compared to a list of qualities the employer is looking for. If they don't match, you can unofficially fail the test.
This depends on the employer's policy. Some companies will allow candidates to retake a test once within the same recruitment or evaluation period, while others won't.
If you fail a job personality test, you might have to wait 6 to 12 months before retaking the same assessment.
Check your potential employer's policies on this before applying for any job.
Career personality tests are becoming a common practice in job recruitment. A regular or leadership personality test is usually taken before the job interview, so the recruiter can analyze the candidates' personalities.
They'll ask questions during the job interview based on their analysis.
Candidates whose answers on the test match the answers during the interview are more likely to be considered for the job.
You can get complete guides for career personality tests on the same sites that offer sample tests.
Most of them have comprehensive and beginner-friendly guidelines on how to prepare for a specific test, what you can expect on the assessment and how to perform well.
You can also find guidance on testing forums, the sites of test developers, and job recruitment centers.
Personality tests are a common aspect of recruitment processes. Candidates need to prepare for them in order to get the best chance of success in landing the desired position.
Take your time researching what the company is looking for and which tests they use. Practice with the latter and be prepared to perform well within the allocated time frame.
That said, most employers are looking for honest answers. If your answers aren't the best fit for the company, you won't be invited for a job interview. It means that the position wasn't the right fit for you and that you should look into other roles to find a suitable and fulfilling job.