Personality tests are a type of psychometric assessment used across many industries to assess job applicants’ character traits, work preferences and behaviour, competencies, values, and motivations.
Personality tests can be used to determine whether a candidate is aligned with a company’s core values and work culture, and if they will be a good fit for the position. A personality test may be administered online after you submit an application, or as part of an assessment centre later in the recruitment process.
Typically the test will consist of an untimed questionnaire containing a series of statements, from which you must rate the extent to which you agree or disagree with each statement.
The responses you give will then be used to determine a personality profile, which will usually comprise several different personality traits, for example, how team-oriented, conscientious, or open you are.
Candidates often think there is little need to prepare for personality tests in the same way as for other assessments like a numerical reasoning test or verbal reasoning test. However, preparation is always recommended, to ensure you tackle the test well and showcase your suitability for the role and alignment with the company culture.
Here are our top five tips to effectively prepare for your personality test:
Step 1: Understand the job requirements
While there aren’t exactly right or wrong answers, the employer will be looking for certain traits and competencies that are important for the position you are applying to.
Start your preparation by identifying the traits the hiring team is seeking. This will be different depending on the role; for example, for a receptionist position an employer will likely look for someone who is friendly, has good interpersonal skills, and is patient, but this might not be as important for a data analyst role.
A good way to do this is to study the job description. Look for the essential and desirable criteria to give yourself a good idea of what kind of characteristics the hiring team will be looking for in their candidates. Make a note of these traits and keep them in mind throughout the test.
Step 2: Learn about your personality test
Personality tests can vary in terms of their structure, question types, and how they measure your personality. So if possible, try to find out as much as you can about the test you will be taking.
Employers will usually use a personality test from a leading publisher. Some of the most commonly used personality tests are the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and Talent Q Dimensions. Some personality tests are also tailored to the company’s job requirements.
Information on your specific test may be readily available to you, but if not, you can try getting in contact with the hiring team for more details.
Familiarising yourself with the test you are taking can help ease any nervousness you may be feeling about taking it, since you will know what to expect.
Step 3: Know the traits important to the employer
Another good way to understand what the employer might be looking for is to take a look at the organisation’s careers page, to get a sense of what kind of work culture the company has, and the type of employees they are likely to hire.
By doing this you can answer the questions in a way that reflects the company culture. For example, you may discover that a company has a culture that places a lot of focus on collaboration and teamwork. As such, you might want to answer the questions in a way that emphasises good interpersonal skills and a preference for teamwork.
Step 4: Practice sample personality tests
You may also be able to practice some sample personality tests, which can help you get used to the format and become more comfortable with the way the questions read, so there will be no surprises during the real test.
This can help you stay relaxed throughout the test, which is likely to result in you selecting the best response to the questions selected.
There are many practice tests available online, but if possible, try to find a similar test to the one you will be taking.
Step 5: Review your results
Practice tests will often give you a personality report after you complete the test. Make sure to review this and take a look at what personality characteristics and traits your responses have indicated. If you discover a personality trait that you think the employer will value, then be sure to emphasise it in the real test.
If you feel the personality profile does not match what the employer is looking for, then take some time to think about how you could improve the way you answer the questions to show better suitability for the role and company.