Personality tests – make or break your next job interview

Personality tests – make or break your next job interview



The facts are:


Good resume, a few references and job interview smarts were pretty much everything you needed in order to land a new job, but…


These days more and more candidates are finding that getting the gig may very well come down to … your innate personality?


According to a 2014 trends report from business advisory company CEB, 62% of human resources professionals are using personality tests to select the right candidates in the hiring process.




That’s compared to less than 50% in 2010.


So if you haven’t had to take a personality assessment yet during an employment seeking procedure, chances are you soon will.


The reason?


Companies are increasingly looking for ways to ensure that they’ve brought on the right individual.


Specifically, they want to not only find someone who won’t perform — and need to be replaced, at a cost of time and money — but also avoid hiring a candidate who will flee the minute the next big task/isuue comes on their way.


Employers use these assessments to compare potential employees’ scores against a given job’s requirements to see if there’s a match. And while there are no absolute “right” or “wrong” answers, replies can suggest whether you might have the attributes that do or don’t line up with what a company’s looking for in a candidate.


For instance, if it’s a sales position, and results come back that a person is slow-moving, risk-averse and too accommodating, that person might not be a strong fit,


But if there’s a service position at the same company, he/she may be very good match for it.


That said, not all assessments are created equal. While there are a slew out there that have substantial accuracy in selecting ideal candidates, other, less-sophisticated tests can be poor predictors of future job performance.


All the hiring tools are good for employee development — but not all the development tools are good for hiring,

So, our brief before proceeding to detailed personality tests variations’ description:


Personality tests assist employers to evaluate how you are likely to handle relevant work-related activities, such as: managing stakeholders, working in teams, complying with rules and regulations, solving problems in a practical manner,  leading others, coping with stress and pressure, and more.


Employers are likely to seek in candidates those personality traits which match the job requirements.


For example:


  • Candidates for HR professional roles are likely to be required to demonstrate superb stakeholders’ management skills, effective communication skills, a structured and planned approach to tasks, etc.
  • Candidates for engineering roles are likely to be required to demonstrate a prudent and calculated approach to work, work-safety attitude, and ability to cope with pressure in the workplace.
  • Candidates for sales roles are likely to be required to exhibit a competitive nature, high motivation to achieve results, and the ability to initiate and close sales.


The above examples show that there are no right or wrong answers in the personality test.


There is also no positive or negative personality. Your personality is measured based on its suitability to the job requirements.


Research has shown that an effective preparation can assist candidates to improve their test scores.


Key to your success is understanding the job’s requirements and how they are measured in the personality test. This will assist you to demonstrate to your employer that you have the relevant personality traits to perform in the job.


There are several different popular personality tests commonly used in the market. Some measure different personality or behavioral styles from others.


Therefore, understanding what your personality test measures, how it measures your personality, and what type of personality traits are important to your employer, is very important in getting you through the personality test and getting you the job you wish to land.


And to ease you on the way of achieving the aforementioned, we asked the experts to give us their tips on the five types of personality tests used most commonly during the hiring process.


We not only give you their details, but moreover – label each of them with either Pass or Fail, according to the experts’ opinions on how useful each one for an organization is.


We also base our findings on researches, which show in numbers the performance statuses we seek to understand better.


  1. The Caliper profile


What it is: 


This assessment, which has been around for around 50 years, measures personality traits — from assertiveness to thoroughness — that relate to key skills needed on the job, such as leadership ability and time management.

Take empathy, for example.

The test screens for a combination of traits that can help you see how well a person manage tasks. Are they flexible or rigid?

That’s extremely insightful when hiring someone who has to be responsive to customers or change in an organization.


Sample question: 


Candidates are asked to select one statement that best reflects the viewpoint most like theirs in a grouping, and fill in the “most” circle on an answer sheet.

From the remaining choices, they then select the one statement that least reflects their viewpoint, filling in the “least” circle.


For example:

  • Sometimes it’s better to lose than to risk hurting someone.
  • I’m generally good at making “small talk.”
  • Established practices and/or standards should always be followed.
  • I sometimes lose control of my workday.



The verdict: 


Pass! The Caliper Profile is especially strong at discerning what really drives a person,

Unlike other tests, it examines both positive and negative qualities that, together, provide insight into what really motivates a person.



  1. Gallup Strengths finder


What it is:


This test was created a few decades ago, under the suggested statement that personality assessments focused too much on weaknesses.


Based on responses to 177 statements that speak to 34 positive traits that the test-taker might possess — from discipline to communication — the test identifies the top five strengths out of all 34 that most strongly represent the prospective employee.


So let’s say you rank highly in positivity.


This might mean you’d be stellar in a position that has you dealing with rejection on a regular basis, such as at a call center or in fund-raising.


Are you an achiever?


You could naturally excel at Type-A gigs, like an executive or another high-level manager role.


Sample question:


Two statements are presented on each screen of the test.


For instance: “I like to help people,” and “When things get tough and I need things done perfectly, I tend to rely on the strengths of people on my team and don’t try to do it all myself.”


Respondents must pick the statement that best describes them.


They can note that it “strongly describes” them, that their connection to both statements is “neutral,” or it falls somewhere in between.


The verdict: 


Pass! Unlike the Caliper, Gallup looks at strengths that are real indicators of success, rather than simply sassing out people’s negatives and downsides — and the results revolve around that,


  1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator


What it is: 


Probably one of the most well-known personality tests around, the Myers-Briggs looks at where you fall in four different fields — sensing or intuition, introversion or extroversion, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving — to come up with 16 different personality types labeled by combinations of initials.


Case in point:


You may have heard someone describe themselves as an INTJ — an intuition/introversion/thinking/judging type.


Sample question: 


Questions are framed in an A/B format. For example: When dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options?


The output for these responses is Judging (J) or Perceiving (P), respectively.


The verdict: 


Fail! Essentially, this test is designed to assess your innate preferences. And although it’s an interesting tool for self-discovery, it hasn’t been proven to be valid for job selection.


HR departments, who choose employees based on its results could miss out on superstars who might actually excel in a given position, or mistakenly bring on workers that don’t live up to expectations — all because they relied too much on what they thought this test indicates all alone.


In fact, the test’s own publisher is so concerned about misuse of the personality test for hiring that it has gone out of its way to warn people that it should not be employed for that purpose, and that companies who do could be held accountable.


  1. Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire


What it is: 


This test, which is also referred to as the 16PF, identifies 16 traits that we all posses in varying degrees, like warmth and tension.


The 170 questions on the test differ from those on most other personality assessments, which ask how you might react to a certain situation on the job, rather than get you to describe your overall personality in some way.


Can you be counted on to finish the tasks you start?


How well will you handle high-stress situations?


The 16PF give you a good idea about that.


Sample question: 


Candidates must answer “true,” “false” or “?” (meaning you don’t understand the statement or aren’t sure) to such phrases as “When I find myself in a boring situation, I usually ‘tune out’ and daydream,” or “When a bit of tact or convincing is needed to get people moving, I’m usually the one who does it.”


The verdict: 


Pass! It’s a wonderful instrument for hiring and also for employee development, thanks to its focus on practical situations rather than general personality traits.



  1. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory


What it is:


This one is a personality test — but it’s meant to be administered by a clinical expert, like a psychologist.


In fact, unlike the other tests, which can be taken online or administered by HR pros, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) can only be given and interpreted by a psychologist.


And the only workplace situations in which it might be used effectively is to screen employees at high risk of psychological issues, such as members of the police.


Sample question: 


Answers are true or false.


For example: “I wake up with a headache almost every day,” and “I certainly feel worthless sometimes.”


The verdict: 


Fail! The information that it asks about is not business-related,

Companies have tried to use it, been taken to court, and lost.



So, after the briefing we offered, here are some main points to be considered as beneficial for the use of personality tests as additional source of knowledge whether or not a candidate will perform successfully on the position you provide at your company.


If you are a hiring manager yourself, you might find the list bellow very evident on the reasons why you need to start performing personality tests at the second round interview stage:




Hope now you have the full picture of personality tests traits on the job hiring market today.


Stay updated with our articles and

Good luck on the way of preparation for success!

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