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How to Pass the Pre-Employment Personality Test

Get an "A" for personality.

So, you've carefully crafted the perfect resume. Now what? I know it’s tempting to sit back, relax and wait for that anticipated phone call inviting you for an interview. But trust me, sitting and waiting never helped anyone. It’s time to take an active role in preparing for your future. Let’s face the facts. With each passing year, it becomes harder and harder to get a job. Companies are being inundated with thousands of candidates for one open position. In response to the overwhelming increase in candidates, employers have added an extra step in the recruitment process: pre-employment testing.

According to a trends report from business advisory company CEB, 62 percent of HR professionals are using personality tests and pre-employment testing to vet candidates in the hiring process. That's compared to less than 50 percent in 2010, per research firm Aberdeen Group.

What is a pre-employment personality test?

Good question. A personality test is an assessment used by employers to find a candidate whose character traits are best suited for a specific position. The pre-employment testing is designed to reveal particular aspects of a candidate’s personality and the likelihood that he or she will excel in such a position.

Why has pre-employment testing become so popular?

Research shows that if an employee is placed in a position that doesn’t match his or her personality, it often leads to lower engagement. Low employee engagement results in 21 percent lower productivity and about 45 percent higher turnover. According to Susan J. Stabile's essay, "The Use of Personality Tests as a Hiring Tool: Is the Benefit Worth the Cost?", replacing employees is extremely expensive.

Just think of the time and money put towards interviewing a new hire, processing them in the system, training them and then having to repeat it all. In today’s metric-based work culture, employers are searching for a recruitment tool that gives them quantifiable measures which will stand up to legal challenges. Pre-employment career personality tests are now delivered online, where they are processed instantaneously. Results are then verified and normed against thousands of other candidates.

Now that you know how popular these career personality tests are becoming, how about how to handle them? Here are some common versions of the tests and how to crack them:

  1. The Caliper Profile

The Caliper Profile measures how an individual’s personality traits correlate to his or her job performance. The test is made up of a few different types of questions. The most common type of question presents you with a series of statements, and your task is to decide which statement best aligns with your viewpoint.

Conversely, there are also questions that require you to identify the statements that least reflect your point of view. You may also encounter true/false questions, and multiple-choice questions with a five degree of agreement scale—ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. The Caliper Profile differs from other personality tests in that it examines both positive and negative qualities, thus providing the full picture of a candidate.

Inside Tip: Employers can create a customized selection tool that will allow them to individualize the interview assessment and target critical behaviors. They will receive data on job-fit match or information about a candidate’s potential success in a specific role. It is important before taking the Caliper Profile to practice and understand which behaviors are targeted for which roles. Check out a practice Caliper Profile here.

  1. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

One of the most well-known tools for mapping employee personalities is the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI.) According to CPI, the test’s publisher, 89 of the Fortune 100 companies use the MBTI before hiring a new employee.

The MBTI identifies if an employee’s personality leans toward one of two tendencies in the following groupings: “Extraversion vs. Introversion,” “Intuition vs. Sensing,” “Thinking vs. Feeling,” and “Judging vs. Perceiving.” An individual can fall into one of 16 personality types. The Myers-Brigg Type Indicator is often used by employers to decide if a candidate would be a good cultural fit for a company and if he or she could subsequently transition into working with the team nicely. The MBTI is comprised of 93 questions that are written at a 7th-grade reading level. When answering the questions, you are given two choices of statements—either A or B.

Inside Tip: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is not a normalized exam, nor are the questions scaled. This is one of the most difficult pre-employment personality tests to prepare for, primarily because it has not been proven valid for recruitment use. On the contrary, CPI put out a statement asserting that it is not considered ethical to use the MBTI for hiring or deciding job assignments. The MBTI is more appropriate for understanding how a candidate may work in a group, but not for determining if a candidate is well-suited for a certain position. Another downside is that your score cannot be easily compared to a different candidate applying for the same position.  

  1.  The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ32) is designed to give companies a picture of how certain behaviors influence a candidate’s work performance.The test is made up of 104 questions that measure 32 different characteristics. Candidates are evaluated in three main domains: “Relationship with People,” “Thinking Style and Feelings” and “Emotions.” On the test, candidates are presented with four statements, and they must choose which statement best describes them and which statement least describes them. The OPQ32 was specifically developed to guarantee that its scales are relevant and suitable for the workplace.

Inside Tip: The OPQ32 provides employers a custom report with normed scores, describing both strengths and weaknesses in detail. These reports provide an easy-to-read graphical summary of performance, directly comparable to the other candidates you are competing against. Check out this helpful practice pack featuring practice tests and study guides. Get customized feedback and a detailed description of what the OPQ scale is.

  1. The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)

The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) was developed in the 1980s and was originally used in a socio-analytic context. Currently, the HPI has been perfected and is used to predict job performance. The HPI is based on the Five-Factor Model. It has been normed on more than 500,000 candidates worldwide and validated on more than 200 occupations. It is a consistent and reliable tool used to evaluate an individual’s temperament and how it matches the demands of a given role. The HPI is administered online with an instantaneous score report. The inventory consists of 206 true and false questions that must be completed in around 15 to 20 minutes. The HPI evaluates seven primary scales and six occupational scales, in addition to possessing 42 subscales.

Inside Tip: The HPI measures six occupational scales: “Service Orientation,” “Stress Tolerance,” “Reliability,” “Clerical Potential,” “Sales Potential” and “Managerial Potential.” The score report from this assessment identifies how a candidate is likely to act in specific circumstances. It also evaluates your interview style and classifies candidates according to fit. Check out this practice pack with over 266 Hogan–style personality test questions.

  1. The DiSC Behavior Inventory

The DiSC Behavior Inventory (DiSC) measures a candidate’s primary traits based on four personality types. This four-style behavior model is the oldest style of personality test; it has been around since the time of Hippocrates, around 400 B.C. The DiSC personality profile comes in many versions, each of which includes a variation of the four basic DiSC factors: “Dominant (D),” “Influential (I),” “Steady (S)” and “Compliant (C).” Companies use the DiSC as a tool to help understand an employee’s professional behavior style and his or her ability to work as part of a team. The DiSC is an extremely user-friendly test, and it is significantly shorter than other tests, ranging from between 12 to 30 questions. Candidates are provided with adjectives or phrases and asked to choose which they feel applies to them the most and the least.

Inside Tip: Even though the DiSC is a popular career personality test used by many companies, the DiSC is considered a temperament assessment, not a pre-employment assessment. It is an ipsative test, meaning scores are not normalized against other candidates. The results of the test only show the relative strengths of a single candidate, which means employers cannot compare between scores of two potential candidates. The DiSC is also not considered a valid predictor of job success.

What does this mean for me as a candidate?

Whether it’s due to convenience or general acceptance by employers, no matter how you cut it, pre-employment testing is here to stay. A recent study from the University of South Carolina found that the top reasons executives fail in both internal and external hires are behavioral. It is clear that the use of personality testing is beneficial for employers.

For you as a potential candidate, it is important to understand what to expect from a career personality test. More importantly, it is crucial to prepare in advance. JobTestPrep offers you instant access to online personality tests, study guides, tips, and a full analysis of the top 50 traits that employers are looking for. Just remember, a personality test is a quantifiable way for employers to see if a job is a good match for you. They can easily use the results to compare two qualified candidates. So, why not get a leg up on the competition?

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