Everything You Need to Know About Personality Tests When Job Hunting

Posted April 7, 2020, by Felicity

Ever been asked to do a personality test when you have been on a job hunt? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone, this is a very common request from many businesses. In fact, in this saturated market when it can be hard to cut down the talent pool, these tests are becoming even more commonplace. The problem is,  as the interviewee, it can leave you feeling uncertain about how to answer the questions. These personality tests are carried out for a very good reason, and we are going to give you a little insight into everything you need to know about personality tests when job hunting.

Many interviewees get in the head space of thinking what the potential employer is looking for in an answer. In a way, they are trying to outsmart the test in order to make themselves stand out. But is this the right way to approach the test? Should you be studying beforehand? And how do you make yourself stand out? We have all these answers and more to help you out.

What Is a Personality Test?

Firstly, it is important to note that there are so many different types of personality tests out there. Each one is designed different and looks at your personality differently. But they all have one clear goal in mind, which is to assess your character traits. Personality tests are designed measure your personality traits accurately. For this reason, there is often a number of different questions that are all designed to measure just one trait. Personality tests aren’t developed overnight. In fact, they take many years of research to compile before they are made public.

Why Do Businesses Use Personality Tests?

Let’s face it, businesses have a tough job when it comes to hiring employees these days. It is a very competitive market out there and the standard application process can make it hard to separate the talent pool. While interviews are a great way to get to know a person’s character when hiring for a job, a personality test is used to gain a deeper understanding of your personality and how you may fit in with the culture.

Psst …. for tips on all things interview prep, check out our free Interview Essentials eBook

This serves three purposes in determining:

  1. Are you a team player? This can help an employer truly understand how you would fit in with the rest of the team and how cohesively you can work together. If a job is asking you to take a personality test, it is highly likely their whole team has taken one at some point in time. The idea is to use these tests to assess what personalities they already have on the team, and what personalities would make a good addition to this. There is so much team work involved when it comes to most jobs, and it is important to employers that everyone get on together.
  2. Do you have key competencies required for the job? When employers have a specific job to fill they want the candidate with the best qualifications to fill it. Each job will come with a set of key competencies required for carrying out the tasks. An employer will use your personality test to determine if you have the right personality traits to fit the job. This is why there is no right or wrong answer. Each employer will be looking for something different.
  3. Do you communicate well? Good communication is the key to any workplace. A personality test will help show how you communicate best (ie, verbally or in writing) and how you sort out any conflict that may arise internally or externally.

Shouldn’t My Experience Be Enough?

Unfortunately, it is a tough market out there. Experience may get you as far as the interview room, but your values, beliefs and attitude will be what help you stand out. 

If you approach personality tests as just another opportunity to show off your skillset and shining personality, you have a much better chance at standing out from the crowd. The interviewer already has a good understanding of your expertise and an idea of your personality thanks to a face-to-face interview. This is merely the final step is sealing the deal and making sure you are the right fit for the team. So don’t shy away from it, instead, embrace it – and remember, there is no right or wrong answer.

When Will You Get Asked To Do a Personality Test?

It is towards the end of the interview process that a personality test crops up. This is a good thing! If you are asked to do one, then you are in with a good chance of getting the role. That’s great! You may be the only candidate in the running and they are wanting to make sure you are a good fit. On the other hand, there may be a couple of candidates in the running for the position. In this case, they are trying to separate you.

Are All Personality Tests The Same?

No, there are so many different ones out there, and you may already have done a number of them before.

Here are some of the more common tests:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: this is based on an earlier theory by Carl Jung that humans experience the world using four psychological functions: sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking.

16 Personality Factor Questionnaire: this questionnaire is based on Allport’s 4,000 proposed personality traits, which Cattle Narrowed down to 171, and then later down to 16, to design the tool.

The Birkman Method: introduced by Roger Birkman, the Birkman method is an online assessment that measures personality, social perception and occupational interests.

True Colours: introduced by Don Lowry in 1978, the True Colours test was designed to measure four basic learning styles: independent thinkers, pragmatic planners, action-oriented, people-oriented.

Different Types of Personality Tests

Of course, there are plenty more different test out there. Companies will do their research and find the best one to suit their needs. This means you can’t predict exactly which personality test you will be answering.

You can expect to find a similar variety of questions no matter which test you take:

  • Ipsative questions: this is where you are asked to make a decision about which statement you agree with most. Then which one you agree with least. You are generally forced to make a decision you may not be overly comfortable with.
  • Normative questions: this is where you are asked to rate statements from ‘disagree completely’ to ‘agree completely’ on a varying scale.
  • Trick questions: these questions are thrown in there to measure how positively or negatively you view yourself.

How Can you Prepare For A Personality Test? 

Most people mistakenly think there isn’t too much you can do to get yourself ready for a personality test. In fact, you can prepare yourself. While you can’t beat the test, you can be very intentional in the answers you give.

Think about the job you are interviewing for and the skills that would be required. What kind of personality traits would be suited to this? If you do your research, you can have a good idea before the test of exactly what personality traits you want to promote. This means you can answer the questions accordingly.

The big thing here is not to lie. If you answer questions completely untruthfully, you may find yourself in a job you can’t excel at and find uncomfortable. For example, if you are going for a sales position you should answer the personality test with the intention of highlight your outgoing and bubbly personality traits. But remember, you will then find yourself in a job that expects this of you. You will have to back this up being able to cold call clients and turn the charm on. If this isn’t you, there is no point pretending as it will become obvious all too soon.

Instead, gear the test towards the strengths the employers wants to see, assuming it is in line with your personality.

If you are told the name of the test beforehand, research is key. Even take it a couple of times to see what personality you end up with.

Are They Really That Important?

 At the end of the day, most businesses aren’t going to make a decision of whether or not to hire you off the back of a personality test. They are not a complete picture of who you are, or a judgement of your personality. Plus, there are no right or wrong answers. However, it may be what separates you from another candidate in the running, so yes, they are very important.


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