Pre-employment personality tests: What to expect

shaking hands at job interview

New to personality tests? No worries. We'll go into the key details of these hiring process assessments, as well as how to pass to them with flying colours, below...

The idea of tackling any kind of test during your job search might seem like a cause for concern. After all, surely finding a new role is already stressful enough as it is?

But as worrying as they may sound, pre-employment personality tests are nothing to fret over. They’re simply a way for interviewers and employers to see if you’re the right person for a role. Through these tests, things like communication style, character and particular behaviours become apparent, revealing valuable clues to whether you’ll excel in certain positions.

For those unfamiliar with pre-employment personality tests, we’ll take a closer look at them here to help you ace them next time you’re applying for that dream role.

Quick navigation:

What are pre-employment personality tests?

Why have personality tests become so popular?

What are the common types of personality tests?

How to prepare for personality tests: top tips for candidates

What are pre-employment personality tests?

Personality tests are used by employers to help find a candidate whose character traits are the right fit for a specific role. This is done by answering questions that reveal particular aspects of a candidate’s personality.

When you consider how many applications a business might receive for just one position, the use of pre-employment tests certainly adds an extra layer of certainty to the process for the business’ benefit.

shaking hands in an interview

Why have personality tests become so popular?

As well as the increasing number of applications, there’s a good reason why more and more businesses are conducting personality tests. When an employee isn’t the right match for their role, engagement can often decrease. Employees who are less engaged are less productive and more likely to leave a job. An increase in employee turnover and having to find a replacement as a result is a costly endeavour for businesses.

The time and money involved in interviewing new employees, processing them in the system, and then training them soon adds up, especially if it’s a common occurrence. In today’s workplace, where metrics are such an important aspect, hiring managers need a little more predictability when it comes to employment decisions.

Pre-employment personality tests can be processed pretty much instantly. The results are verified and measured against what could be thousands of other candidates. This speeds up the hiring process considerably and ensures greater compatibility between candidate and company.

What are the common types of personality test?

The Caliper Profile

This test measures how your traits correlate to job performance. You’ll be faced with a number of sample questions, the most common of which presents you with a series of statements; you have to decide which lines up most with your views and character traits.

Because it examines both positive and negative qualities, The Caliper Profile differs from other personality tests.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

You’ll have probably heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MTBI). Not only is it one of the most well-known personality tests, but the test’s own publisher notes that 89 of the Fortune 100 companies use it when hiring new employees.

The MTBI identifies if an employee’s personality skews towards one of two tendencies in the following groups:

• Extraversion vs. Introversion

• Intuition vs. Sensing

• Thinking vs. Feeling

• Judging vs. Perceiving

The MBTI comprises 93 questions. When answering each question, the candidate is given two choices of statements, either A or B, which determines which of the tendencies you lean toward. One letter from each category is then taken to produce a four-letter test result, such as INFJ or ENFP. This means that someone can fall into one of 16 personality types.

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire

Also known as OPQ32, the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire allows companies to identify how certain behaviours influence a candidate’s work performance.

young woman looking at her laptop

Made up of 104 questions measuring 32 different characteristics, candidates and potential employees are evaluated across the following three main domains:

• Relationship with People

• Thinking Style and Feelings

• Emotions

On the test, candidates are presented with four statements that they must choose which statement best describes them and which least represents them.

The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)

Developed in the 1980s, the HPI is based on the Five-Factor Model and consists of 206 true/false questions that must be completed in 15 to 20 minutes.

The HPI focuses on the qualities that describe how candidates might perform when they’re at their best, cluing in hiring managers on occupational scales such as ‘stress tolerance’, and ‘reliability’ as well as primary scales such as ‘ambition’, ‘sociability’, and ‘interpersonal sensitivity.’

The DiSC Behaviour Inventory

When a personality test has been knocking around since 400BC, and is still in use, you know it’s worth talking about. The DiSC Behaviour Inventory measures a candidate’s primary traits based on four personality types:

• Dominant (D)

• Influential (I)

• Steady (S)

• Compliancy (C)

Shorter than other tests, it contains around 12 to 30 questions that contain adjectives or phrases that candidates choose which most and least apply to them.

man working late on laptop

How to prepare for personality tests: top tips for candidates

Be honest, but professional

When completing a personality test, it’s important to answer the questions honestly so they provide the most accurate reflection of your character traits. Don’t try to second guess; overthinking will only lead to a confused end profile. Likewise, trying to go for the ‘ideal’ answers which reflect what employers are seeking is a no-no too; employers can generally tell when candidates are trying to anticipate the ‘right’ answer.

Don’t forget, you’re a different person at work than when you’re at home, so your answers should reflect someone who’s professional and has a good work ethic. Answer as if you’re in the company environment as opposed to a social situation.

Don’t pick too many or too few extreme responses

A balanced approach is generally a good idea here. Opting for too many extreme responses i.e., selecting ‘strongly agree’ or ‘strongly disagree’ for positive and negative traits respectively, tends to create an unrealistic, inconsistent profile.

However, you should also be wary of being too middle-of-the-road in your responses. Going for the neutral option too frequently suggests someone who is indecisive and prefers to play it safe.

person working on their laptop making notes on pad

Keep the role in mind

Some employers will create their own personality tests in order to reflect their specific company values. Researching the company should make these values clear, so once you’ve found them, make sure your answers reflect their characteristics and values.

Be consistent

In your aim to be well-balanced and consistent, you should be as coherent as you can be. As the test goes on, you may end up providing contradictory responses through question fatigue or lack of interest.

In order to avoid creating a weak illustration of your personality, be sure to check that each new answer is consistent with those you’ve already logged.

Go for answers that suggest positive traits

When completing the test, consider the impression you’re creating with every answer. Employers will be looking for candidates who mark highly on things like determination, optimism, dependability, and curiosity (to name a few), while also being friendly and good-natured too.

There are still things to watch out for here, however. First, don’t be tempted to exaggerate these positive characteristics – hiring managers will generally be able to see through this, while you should also watch out for the negative connotations that surround things like assertiveness and perfectionism.

Click here for the latest news and features from SEFE Marketing & Trading or visit our homepage to find out about our latest career opportunities.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of SEFE Marketing & Trading. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. SEFE Marketing & Trading accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.