Employment Personality Tests
Have you been asked to take a personality assessment by a prospective employer? A relatively new addition to the world of talent acquisition is asking job seekers and employees to take personality tests. Those unfamiliar with how personality tests work often feel anxiety over the prospect of a new set of ambiguous criteria. But there’s really no need to fear, as personality tests can provide benefits for employees and job seekers alike.
You may even want to take some personality assessments on your own, to get an idea of what careers could be a good fit for your interests. It’s always interesting to see the results, and they can give you insight into what you could be doing with your working life.
Here is our quick guide to what personality tests are and why they should matter to you.
What are Personality Tests?
Because skills matter to employers, it is important to include hard and soft skills in your resume and job applications. Your hard skills are the technical skills you can demonstrate, such as writing, computer coding, CPR, etc. Soft skills are those that are more intuitive, such as active listening, leadership, and teamwork.
However, personality tests (also known as psychometric tests) are not related to hard or soft skills. They evaluate beyond your skills and inform employers of your approach to communication, conflict, and general problem-solving. If you are being asked to take a personality test, your skills are not under scrutiny.
Instead, the employer is thinking about the chemistry of those that make up his/her workforce. Are you a good fit? That is what the employer wants to know. There are no right or wrong answers to questions on a personality test. If administered correctly, it merely uncovers your personality, and it can be as insightful for you as it is for your future employer.
Types of Career Tests
Tests for Hiring
Tests are often used as part of the hiring process. If a company is hiring salespeople, for example, they may want to ensure that the candidates they are interviewing have the type of personality they need to achieve the goals the company is trying to reach.
Tests for Students, Job Seekers, Career Changers, and Employees
There are a variety of personality tests and career tests you can take to help you figure out what type of job you would like:
- There are tests that help you analyze your skills. These tests will then connect your skills to appropriate jobs and careers.
- Other tests will measure your aptitude for a certain profession or a certain type of work.
- Counselors can use career tests as part of the career counseling process. Tests administered by a counselor will help you and the counselor determine what the best career options are for you.
What You Can Learn
Career tests measure a variety of abilities, skills, and personality traits. They are designed to assist in the career planning process and to generate ideas for career options. Some tests are simple and fun, while others are more complex. Some are free, while there is a fee for others. All of them are designed to help job seekers measure their skills and relate them to job options. The different types of tests include:
- Aptitude tests: These tests gauge your ability to do a certain job or your ability to gain the skills necessary to do a job.
- Career tests: These tests can help determine what type of position is suitable for someone with your personality.
- Career inventories: These measure how what you are interested in matches what is required to work in different occupations.
- Career personality tests: Career counselors use these tests to analyze the type of personality you have and to connect your personality to related career options. Keep in mind that no test is a perfect indicator of what you should do. However, career tests will give you an idea of the types of positions that might be a good fit for your skills, experience, and background. At the very least, they will give you a starting point for narrowing options and focusing your job search. At best, they can help you define quite specifically the type of position you want.
What Can Personality Tests Accomplish?
There is currently quite a bit of controversy about how employers use personality tests. One of the most controversial functions of a personality test pertains to the hiring process. Many employers utilize personality tests to screen applicants before they choose to bring them into the company. From the employer’s point of view, this helps them maintain the status quo in their workforce.
In contrast, some employers actively seek diversity in their work culture. From their point of view, carefully integrating teams of diverse personality types can help the team work together instead of competing with one another.
Companies that seek greater diversity understand that the best way to disrupt a market or break up apathy is to introduce more variety in thought (which is the key to healthy collaboration). In fact, many studies show that diversity is often responsible for elevating a company to greater market share within its industry. Personality tests help these employers know whether or not they have the diversity that they seek.
Finally, employers might use personality tests to vet for a specific position. Certain jobs require a unique personality, such as sales or customer service roles. These companies often train their employees from the ground up rather than hiring someone who already has the required hard skills. Therefore, before they expend the resources budgeted to train you, they want to make sure that your personality can handle the demands of the job.
How Do Personality Tests Work?
You might be asked to take a personality test before or after you’ve been hired. These tests can take you a few minutes to over an hour to complete, and they usually follow a certain model that has been peer-reviewed (that is, the model has been rigorously tested by scientists in academic fields such as psychology, anthropology, and organizational behavior).
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator is probably the most famous and established personality test. However, the creators are insistent that the test should not be used to screen during the hiring process. You might be asked to take an MBTI after you’ve been hired or for the purpose of mentoring.
While the scientists that created the test are, in fact, named Myers and Briggs, they attribute their research primarily to psychologist Carl Jung. Myers and Briggs created the test to help people match their personality with their ideal career. They based their results on comparing the following types:
- Extroversion versus Introversion
- Sense versus Intuition
- Think versus Feel
- Judge versus Perceive
Each type comparison assumes the types as polar opposites, and the test helps you see which polar opposite you favor. For example, in the E (extroversion) and N (introversion) portion of the test, the way you answer the test questions reveals your tendency toward one type over the other. At the end of the test, you end up with four letters identifying your personality type, such as ENTJ or ISTP.
While the official MBTI costs money and is best administered by someone certified to do so, here are a few free personality tests that are based off the MBTI model:
The DiSC assessment does not attribute itself to any one scientist, though many of the principles behind it were first introduced in the book Emotions of Normal People by 1920s scientist William Marston. The creators of this test desire that those taking the test increase their overall emotional intelligence. That being said, some employers use this assessment when screening employees.
The test measures four attributes:
After you’ve finished the test, your results are shown as a dot on a pie chart with four pieces (each piece representing one of the four attributes). For example, if you tested strongest for i (influence) and S (steadiness), then your dot will be located on the right side of the pie chart.
You can purchase a test package for yourself and others in your organization, or you can try one of the free online personality tests based on the DiSC model:
- 123 Test
- DiSC Personality Testing (the free version)
- Open-Source Psychometrics Project
- Institute Success (the free version)
When it comes to employment and job screening, the Caliper Test is perhaps the most common. It is also one of the longest tests for the individual taking it. If an employer asks you to take the test, it is best that you plan on taking at least two hours in order to answer each question thoughtfully.
As you sit down to take the test, you’ll notice that the multiple choices available are all positive. Therefore, while there is technically no right answer, which positive answer you choose helps the employer understand who you are and whether or not you are a good match for the company or the position.
Your results often go straight to the employer giving them a percentage match to the job and company (between 0 and 100). Ideally, your percentage score is over 50 for the open position. While Caliper tests are not typically open to the public (Caliber Corp services employers), here are a couple of free practice tests you can take that are based on the Caliper assessment:
The Big Five
Unlike the other assessments above, the Big Five test, also known as the Five Factor Test, does not have an official administrator or brand. Most of the Five Factor Tests are completely free but are no less popular than the tests above.
As the name implies, the test measures your tendency towards five attributes. At the completion of the test, you are given a percentage of 0-100% for each category:
Also, unlike the other tests, one of the attributes is clearly negative (neuroticism), and employers may use a test such as this to screen out those that are emotionally unstable. As already noted, most Five Factor Tests are free to take, but here are among the most popular:
- Psychologist World
- Open-Source Psychometric Project
- 123 Test
- Discover My Profile (University of Cambridge)
In Conclusion: Why Do Personality Tests Matter for Job Seekers?
It is true that many people spend years in a particular career before they realize that they are not a good fit for the job.
Tip: The sooner that you can find the career best suited for your natural abilities (such as your personality), the more satisfied and less burned out in your career you will be.
Therefore, if you find yourself between jobs or looking for a career change, you might consider taking a few career tests to find out if you are applying for jobs that are a good fit for you.
On the other hand, these tests are not always accurate, and not every employer uses a personality test to screen you. As such, if you take a personality test for an employer, and the employer says that the test indicates that you are not a good fit, trust your own intuition.
You know yourself better than a mere test. Don’t be afraid to remind yourself about the fallibility of a personality test if you love what you do, and you are confident in your skills to handle the job. Simply move on to the next interview.