Personality tests are used by employers to assess the character and behavioural traits of candidates during the recruitment process. They cab determine whether an individual is aligned with a company’s core values and a good fit for its workplace culture.
As such, many personality tests are tailored to measure against a firm’s principles and values.
Personality tests may be encountered – along with other online aptitude tests – shortly after the submission of an online application, or later in the recruitment process, as part of a virtual or in-person assessment centre.
Scoring favourably in a personality test is crucial to securing a job role, as employers seek staff who will merge seamlessly into the workplace and can quickly be an asset to the team.
Whilst it may not initially seem necessary to practice for a personality test in the same way it might for a verbal test or numerical reasoning test, a personality test should be taken seriously.
If you consider our five top tips for preparation and performance below, you’ll be able to use your personality test to display your good character and alignment with the company culture, thus strengthening your application.
Step 1: Identify the desirable traits
When preparing for a personality test, start by considering the character traits needed to excel in your chosen role. For example, to be successful in a customer-facing role, patience and empathy are important, whilst to join a consultancy team, a collaborative mindset and strong team working are vital.
Refer to the essential and desirable criteria in the job description first, but ensure you also reflect upon the personality best suited for the job. List out the desirable traits you identify and have them in the forefront of your mind when answering the questions.
To be successful, you’ll need the test to result in a personality profile that indicates that you possess the necessary qualities.
Step 2: Don't overthink the test
Whilst it’s important to prepare, it’s also important not to give each question too much thought. Employers want to gain insight into your real personality, not be confronted with a series of answers that convey exactly what you think they want to hear.
During the test, you’ll be presented with statements and asked to indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree (commonly on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree). Be careful not to overthink the test and try to select the ‘ideal’ response every time, as this will result in an unrealistic personality profile.
Be honest and decisive with your answers and avoid too many neutral responses, since this makes for a weak personality profile. Conversely, it is also unwise to log too many extreme responses.
If you approach the test with the mindset that it should accurately reflect your personality, your character will naturally come to the fore.
Step 3: Relax, but remain focused
Personality tests can be long affairs, as they assess candidates across a number of different areas – such as openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, rule-consciousness, emotional stability, dominance, and humility. Multiple statements will assess a range of traits that indicate the presence of these overall characteristics.
Personality tests are nothing to worry about, so relax and work through the questions at a steady pace. As the tests can be lengthy, it is important to maintain concentration throughout and read each statement carefully.
There will likely be similar questions included, which could result in contradictions unless you are concentrating and keeping track of your responses. Personality tests aren’t timed, so there’s no need to rush through the questions.
Try not to take too long to complete the test though, as employers do tend to track the time taken to submit the test. An overly long completion time can indicate indecisiveness or convey that a candidate is overthinking and trying to select ideal rather than accurate answers.
Step 4: Keep a professional mindset
When indicating the degree to which you agree or disagree with the given statements, ensure you are conveying your professionalism. Whilst there are technically no incorrect answers in a personality test, there will be some answer options that would be glaringly inappropriate to select.
Use your personality test as an opportunity to display that you know how to conduct yourself in a professional workplace environment.
It is also important to convey that you can remain professional under pressure and respond to situations in an appropriate and proportional manner. Consider all statements from a workplace perspective, reflecting upon what would be suitable behaviour within that context.
Step 5: Be prepared for questions about honesty and integrity
Personality tests often include some questions specifically addressing honesty and integrity. These questions may explore your responses on topics such as money management and truthfulness.
For these questions, you may be asked to indicate the extent to which you perceive certain actions to be acceptable (for example, on a scale from completely unacceptable to completely acceptable).
When answering, ensure you always convey the integrity of your character. Clearly indicate that stealing and lying are wrong and have no place in any relationship, particularly within a work environment.
As with all questions, however, use your judgement. If the statement reads ‘It is always wrong to lie, regardless of the circumstances’, selecting a ranking that implies you have never once withheld the truth is likely unrealistic. Pay attention to the context of the statements and respond accordingly and proportionately.