Personality tests are becoming more and more common in the recruitment process, as they help employers to get a better sense of the people they’re hiring. They’re also proven to be good indicators of aptitude and performance.
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Different personality test types and formats
If you’ve been asked to take a personality test as part of a recruitment process, researching the type of test you’ll be taking is important, as well as the values and ethos of the company you’re applying to, and the requirements of the specific role. All of this information will help you to prepare yourself.
Below we cover some of the most common personality tests and question types used by businesses across the UK.
Normative questions require you to answer questions based on how strongly you agree or disagree. The full range of options is normally: strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree.
You’ll select an answer for each statement you read, within which you will of course expect to find the various traits and competencies an employer is assessing you for.
To make the test as fair as possible, the traits will be mixed up within the questions and across the test — making it hard to remember how you’ve answered something similar previously. Another reason why it’s good to be as honest as you can.
Designed to be slightly more probing than a normative question, ipsative questions require you to look at a few statements and then rank which ones you most agree or disagree with.
They’re occasionally known as ‘forced choice’ questions, as they require you to dig deep and think about your personal strengths and weaknesses.
Ipsative questions are lauded by those that believe this method of questioning makes people less prone to exaggeration, while critics say they make employers jobs harder as it’s not as easy to compare candidates’ results.
Trick questions sound daunting, but they’re a good way for employers to keep a check on a candidate’s answers, and get a better understanding of whether they answered questions openly and honestly.
There are many ways to phrase trick questions. It could be through nuanced use of language e.g. “I have never been late in my life” (a very unlikely statement for even the most punctual of people).
Other ‘trick questions’ might include statements related to how positively or negatively you see yourself and your performance at work. For example: “Everyone I meet always likes me instantly”. Here, use of words such as ‘always’ or ‘never’ are indicators of ‘trick questions’ and if you answer strongly either way, it might well be something that an employer follows up in an interview.
SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire
The SHL OPQ is designed by SHL and is regarded as the most widely used personality test in the recruitment world.
Sometimes scored normatively and sometimes ipsatively, but always using multiple-choice questions, the test is designed to assess a candidate’s competencies. It produces a report on their personality traits and the behaviours they may be expected to show in the workplace.
The Predictive Index behavioural assessment is designed to probe what you need, personally, to feel motivated and driven in your career. It helps employers to get to know the people they may hire and learn more about what would make them work to the best of their ability.
The test is untimed, and when you’ve finished you’ll be assigned one of 17 different personality categories. While perhaps not a perfect summation of your character, it’s a good indication of what makes you tick.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
Often known as the MBTI, this test aims to assess how people make decisions. So questions are usually direct, and will ask things such as ‘how do you prefer to make decisions?’ or what your preference is towards several different personality traits.
The Saville Wave test combines both normative and ipsative multiple-choice questions, via either the professional 40-minute test, or the 14-minute focused version. Unlike many of the other tests, the Saville Wave can only be taken online.
McQuaig Word Survey
The McQuaig Word Survey assesses both your core personality traits and your temperament. Although you’re not timed, the survey takes most people around 10–20 minutes to complete.
Candidates taking the test are urged to trust their instincts and go with their first answer, in order to provide employers with useful information that can be used to tailor the on-boarding process and even the job role itself. In this way, it aims to ensure both employee and employer satisfaction.
Talent Q Dimensions
This test is designed to measure the fit between a candidate and an employer, to ensure the people that best gel with the company are highlighted in the selection process.
The test isn’t timed, but it tends to take people around 25 minutes to complete. Because it focuses on the relationship between employee and employer, it’s also used regularly in team-building exercises and for personal development.
Other personality test types you might encounter include NEO Personality Inventory, DiSC tests, Birkman method tests and DSI tests.
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Personality Tests FAQs
Can you fail a personality assessment?
While your answers are subjective and therefore can’t be marked as right or wrong, it’s important to remember your employer will be looking to see certain traits or competencies in order to hire someone. So making sure you understand what skills and strengths are likely to be valued is important.
What are personality tests used for?
Personality tests are used to assess the character traits of candidates applying for a job role. They can help employers to make a hiring decision, and are used in conjunction with an interview, aptitude test or assessment centre.
Are personality tests timed?
No, personality tests aren’t timed – as it’s important to employers that candidates don’t feel rushed or pressured to answer in a certain way. Take your time when answering; ensure you’ve read the question through properly and understand what it means before answering.
What do personality tests measure?
Personality tests measure everything from your attitude and behaviour, to your strengths, skills, and character traits. This information helps your employer to predict your suitability for both the role and the team you’re applying to work in.
Where can I practice personality tests?
At Practice Aptitude Tests we have numerous practice personality test questions you can try your hand at. It’s a great idea to practice before taking the test for real, as it will help you to get used to the different questions you could be asked.
Which employers use personality tests?
More and more employers are using personality tests to get better insight into the candidates applying to work for them. From HR to sales, there are personality tests for every role imaginable and it’s highly likely you’ll take one at some point in your career.
Personality Tests Tips
1Practice past tests before the one that counts
It will make you familiar with how the tests work.
2Make sure you understand what’s being asked of you
Ask for clarification if not.
Going with your gut feeling is always the best way to approach personality tests. If you’re true to yourself, that should mean your answers are consistent and the employer gets a true picture of who you are and where your strengths lie.
4Read the questions thoroughly
Sometimes things are phrased negatively or a trick question may be used. Don’t let yourself come unstuck by rushing, especially as the test isn’t timed. Also don’t skip the introduction: it’s really important to read everything thoroughly and ensure you understand what’s required of you.
5Be confident in your position
Answering neutrally too often isn’t something many employers will be looking for.
Remember that if you’re honest, your answers are likely to be consistent — and employers like consistency
7Check through the test before submitting it
So you don’t miss any questions. By all means come back to any you struggle with, but it’s important to answer everything.
8Ask for feedback
Whether you get the job or not. It’s always good to learn more about yourself and how you come across to an employer.
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