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Pre-employment personality assessments — highly invaluable or unnecessarily intrusive? If you are like most job seekers, the thought of taking a personality assessment and having the results made available to a prospective employer may feel stress-inducing. But it should not, really -After all, you are who you are, and the more in tune you are with your own skills and abilities, the easier it will be to find a job you love. This is what personality tests are designed to do, and it is why they are actually beneficial to you, as well as to the employer who requires them.

What Are Pre-Employment Personality Tests?

Pre-employment personality tests are designed to measure specific traits exhibited by a job applicant. Increasingly, employers are turning to automation to ease the work involved in the hiring process. Part of this automation could include a pre-employment personality test. You will often encounter this type of test when you apply for positions through the company’s online portal or hiring service. It measures traits such as:

  • Motivation
  • Reliability
  • Dependability
  • Adaptability
  • Communication skills
  • Level of assertiveness
  • Ability to problem-solve
  • Emotional intelligence

Unfortunately, if an applicant does not exhibit a specific personality trait, the application process may end at the personality test, and the employer may never even see their resume. This can be a frustration for applicants because it eliminates the opportunity to give a good first impression. After all, how can you impress a prospective employer with your wit and intelligence if you fail to get a face-to-face meeting?

Sadly, you cannot. For this reason, it is best to prepare for pre-employment personality tests before you run across one, especially if it stands between you and that job you have always wanted.

How Do Businesses Use Employment Personality Tests?

Businesses use personality assessments to help them build effective work teams. In other words, they may be searching for an individual with a specific personality trait to fill a vacant position. While some employers may use this type of test to “weed out” applicants before the interview, others use them in conjunction with personal interviews and resumes to help them spot potential dream candidates.

Pre-employment personality testing is a common part of the recruitment process for many of today’s employers. This is why students should be aware of how they work and which traits they are measuring. While it is not recommended that you lie on your personality test, it does not hurt to think each question through completely before answering and to design your answers to showcase your strengths.

What Types of Pre-Employment Personality Tests Are There?

There are many different personality tests available to employers who find value in using them. These same tests are also available to you as an individual, although there is usually a fee to take them. They can give you valuable insight into how you make decisions and what type of work environment you may prefer. Some of the most common assessments used by employers today include:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is probably the personality test you took in high school. It is designed to help you understand the type of person you are and to make those results applicable to your life. For example, are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you base decisions on thinking or feeling? Do you pre-judge situations, people, and circumstances, or do you make decisions based on your own perceptions?

While the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator does not ask these questions outright, it does ask questions that help you (and a prospective employer) arrive at general conclusions. For each question posed, participants have a choice of answers. You should pick the answer that best describes you. For instance, a sample question may be:

Do you prefer to:

  • Arrange picnics or parties well in advance?
  • Do whatever looks fun when the time is right?

Based upon how you answer the entire series of questions, the results will help determine which of 16 personality types is most like your own. When an employer reviews your results, they can see whether you are flexible and tolerant, theoretical and abstract, or responsible and conscientious.

Hogan Personality Inventory

This personality test uses the Five-Factor Model of Personality to measure your normal personality traits. It is designed to predict how you will behave in a specific work environment. It utilizes “agree” or “disagree” answers.  Examples of questions might include statements like:

  • Sometimes I find it hard to motivate myself.
  • I have never lied to anyone I know.

Tests like this often use extreme language, such as “never” or “always.” By answering that you strongly agree or strongly disagree with questions that pose always-and-never scenarios, you may come across as less than truthful. When taking the Hogan Personality Inventory, be honest, but try to answer as you would answer in a real work environment.

Caliper Profile

Caliper measures 280 different behaviors, 56 competencies, and 21 behavioral traits, such as how well you score at coaching others, driving results, or negotiating. It consists of 98 multiple-choice questions. For example, you will be given four statements and asked to choose the one that most closely describes you and the one that least describes you. It will look something like this:

  1. I tend to analyze people.
  2. I pick my words carefully.
  3. I make a list before going to the store.
  4. Selling comes easy to me.

Each question is carefully designed to measure a competency such as dominance, self-control, organization, or assertiveness. How you answer can help predict how you may perform in a given role, such as customer service representative or human resource manager.

SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire

This assessment has been in use since 1996 and is backed by extensive research. It uses a series of questions designed to measure traits such as stress-tolerance, decision-making skills, adaptability, and leadership qualities.

Like the Hogan Personality Inventory, it asks participants to rate themselves on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree and includes statements such as:

  • I enjoy meeting new people.
  • I enjoy helping others.
  • I am easily disappointed.

How you rate yourself can reveal how you may be expected to perform in certain work scenarios. However, this test, and like all others, is only a guide for employers to use in evaluating candidates, and it should be noted that the results are not totally predictive.

DiSC Behavior Inventory

DiSC is an acronym for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. It measures an applicant’s answers and groups the participant into one of these four categories, based upon their responses. Sample questions on the DiSC Behavior Inventory may look something like this:

  • I can be forceful with my opinions.
  • People consider me to be a very good listener.
  • Accuracy is important to me.

Like other personality assessments, the DiSC Behavior Inventory asks participants to answer on a scale of strongly disagree to strongly agree. At its core, it measures factors such as how much you tend to influence others, how you might respond to rules and regulations, or how you face challenges.

HEXACO Personality Inventory

The HEXACO Personality Inventory is one of the most trusted and most utilized personality assessments available today. It measures several key components of personality, including honesty-humility, emotionality, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to new experience. Hence, the acronym “HEXACO.”  Sample questions on this assessment may include:

  • I would never take things that are not mine.
  • I smile a lot.
  • I make plans and stick to them.

Based upon your answers, employers can get a clearer picture of whether you consider yourself to be an honest person, whether you tend to take charge of a situation, and how well you might get along with other members of your team.

How Useful Are Pre-Employment Personality Tests?

Some employers find these types of pre-employment personality tests to be extremely helpful in streamlining the recruitment and hiring process. However, they are not infallible. Because they rely on the honesty and self-awareness of the person who is taking the test, results can easily become skewed. For this reason, employers who use these tests in conjunction with other measures, such as interviewing candidates and reviewing resumes, tend to see the best results.

Benefits of Personality Testing in Hiring

Personality testing can help an applicant avoid entering into a job for which they are not well-suited. For that same reason, it can help reduce employee turnover rates and save companies money on hiring and training workers who will not stay long-term. This type of testing can also weed out applicants who are painfully unsuited to the position or applicants who are being less than truthful about their own skills and abilities.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to using pre-employment personality testing as part of the hiring process is that it helps companies “design” dream teams. By hiring individuals who exhibit the exact traits their teams need, these companies can create highly successful departments that perform beyond expectations.

Limitations of Pre-Employment Personality Tests

Then again, personality assessments are only as accurate as the people who take them, and many factors can influence how you may respond when taking these surveys. Variables that can impact your responses include how much sleep you got the night before, how much time you are willing to spend on the test, whether you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol –even cold or allergy medications — and how self-aware you are of your own skills and performance.

How Can You Best Prepare for a Pre-Employment Personality Test?

The best way to prepare for pre-employment personality assessments is to familiarize yourself with how they work and what it is they are attempting to measure. It is also helpful to remember that these tests are concerned with how you may perform at work, so keep this in mind as you complete them. Try to answer as honestly as you can, and do not try to manipulate your answers or to say what you feel your employer wants to hear, or you may end up with inaccurate results.

If you to plan take a “practice” pre-employment personality test, you should review the results with a trusted person, someone who has experience reading and analyzing the results. This will help you better understand the results and why they may have turned out that way. This is not in order to “change” your results for the future, but rather to help you avoid unnecessary surprises, look for consistency or lack thereof in the “real” assessment, and ultimately have a strong sense of self-awareness.

Can You Refuse to Take a Personality Test for a Job?

You can always refuse to take a pre-employment personality test. But then again, an employer can always decide not to hire you if your file is missing this information. Generally, it is not in your best interest to refuse to provide a prospective employer with this type of information, because it benefits you just as much, if not more, than it does the company. Nobody wants to be stuck in a job they hate or one that does not match up with their skills. Taking pre-employment personality assessments is a great way to discover information about yourself that you could find valuable in the future.

Post University students are always welcome to visit the Center for Career & Professional Development for answers to questions such as how to pass a job personality test. We can also help in other ways that may impact professional development, including resume building, interviewing skills, and more. Stop by today to learn more.

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