Personality testing for jobs: definition and examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 28 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

In addition to general interview questions, some employers may request that a candidate take a personality test. Many employers believe these tests give insight into individuals' behaviour and potential, adding to intelligence, education and experience as indicators of the best hire. If you're preparing for a job interview that includes a personality test, knowing how to pass the test can be crucial to your hire. In this article, we define personality testing, discuss why employers use it, list examples of personality tests and offer tips on how to pass them.

What is personality testing for jobs?

Employers use personality testing for jobs as a tool to assess human personality constructs. The tests are useful for diagnosing psychological problems and screening candidates for employment or college. They measure patterns of characteristics people exhibit in diverse situations or conditions. Employers use the assessments to learn more about candidates' personality traits, including their ideologies, principles and morals. The two types of personality tests are projective tests and self-report inventories. These tests usually comprise a series of standardised tasks or questionnaires.

Related: What are the Big Five personality traits? (With definitions)

Reasons employers use personality testing

Employers use personality tests to better understand potential employees' capacity and thus make informed hiring decisions. Here are some other reasons employers use personality testing:

Cultural fit

A proper cultural fit occurs when an employee operates in tandem with the workforce and functions well independently with increased productivity. Personality testing helps a manager select the most effective working environment for a candidate. Employers use testing to determine whether a candidate would fit into the company's culture and to learn what to expect from the candidate with time. For instance, someone who thrives in a fast-paced startup setting might struggle in a corporate environment.

Role and team fit

While an employer may want to recruit a marketing manager who has considerable years of experience and an impressive resume, it may be more advantageous to find a candidate who is goal-driven and team focused. A personality test can help the employer determine whether the candidate fits the team and the position. It reveals whether the candidate has the skills and capability to lead, solve problems and work under pressure and whether they have the necessary interpersonal skills. From the test, employers can learn details that usually take a few months of employment to emerge.

Cost reduction

Over time, employers have discovered that candidates in positions that don't match their personality traits often demonstrate lower engagement. Prior to the introduction of personality tests, many employers spent a lot of resources to interview the next hires, process them into the system and finally train them. Now, most employers use the tests to facilitate the hiring process and ensure that the candidates they hire are compatible with each aspect of the company. This extra efficiency helps to reduce costs.

Examples of personality testing for jobs

Below are the most common personality tests for jobs:

The Caliper Profile

The Caliper Profile measures the inbuilt tendencies of candidates based on 23 different personality traits and how they correlate with the person's job performance. Some of these attributes include leadership ability, risk-taking, aggressiveness, assertiveness and time management. This test comprises a variety of questions that ask a person to select the statement that best or least agrees with their character or viewpoint. Some questions contain an abstract reasoning element, which measures an individual's ability to solve problems.

The test contains multiple-choice questions that the candidate answers using the 'degree of agreement' scale. Recruiters rate candidates on a 1–99 per cent scale using the range in which their score falls. The higher the number, the more likely the candidate is to engage in a particular behaviour. After testing, HR can compare individuals' results to determine the best fit. In addition to helping employers in the recruitment process, the assessment can help decipher an employee's true motive. A distinct attribute of the Caliper Profile is that it can examine both negative and positive qualities.

Predictive Index (PI) behavioural assessment

Recruiters carry out the PI personality test to measure normative workplace conduct. It's a short behavioural test that usually takes only 10 minutes. PI measures four primary personality constructs (formality, dominance, patience and extraversion) and two secondary constructs (decision making and response level). The results help employers gain insight into the self and self-concept of candidates or employees.

For instance, an interviewer may ask an individual to choose the words that best describe them as a candidate or that tell the way people expect them to act. With this information, an employer can quickly deduce how the candidate thinks and works.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

MBTI is an assessment that identifies a candidate's basic preferences and informs the employer on how the candidate uses their perception and judgment. BMTI tests an individual in four ways:

  • Favourite world: Does an individual prefer to place their focus on the outer world extroversion (E) or their own inner world introversion (I)?

  • Information: When gathering information, does the individual focus on basic information sensing (S), or do they add meaning and then interpret intuition (I)?

  • Decision: During decision making, does the individual look at consistent thinking (T) or at specific circumstances and people's feelings (F)?

  • Structure: When dealing with the outside world, does the individual outrightly make decisions judging (J) or remain open to new options and information perceiving (P)?

Related: The best careers for ENTP personality types

Based on the individuals' answers to the questions on the inventory, the recruiter then classifies them into one of these 16 personality traits:

  • craftsman (ISTP)

  • giver (ENFJ)

  • composer (ISFP)

  • idealist (INFP)

  • visionary (ENTP)

  • champion (ENFP)

  • mastermind (INTJ)

  • thinker (INTP)

  • doer (ESTP)

  • counsellor (INFJ)

  • commander (ENTJ)

  • supervisor (ESTJ)

  • provider (ESFJ)

  • performer (ESFP)

  • inspector (ISTJ)

  • nurturer (ISFJ)

Related: Myers-Briggs: What are the 16 personalities?

DISC assessment

The DISC assessment measures the different ways you act, think and interact. DISC stands for the four key behavioural traits the test measures: dominance, influence, steadfastness and conscientiousness. In the DISC test, one of these four traits is usually dominant, while the other traits interact with it.

During this assessment, candidates answer a series of multiple-choice questions that measure the individual's natural response. Many employers use it to learn how a candidate works best based on their personality type. In addition to hiring a qualified candidate, it's often used to diffuse interpersonal conflict, strengthen communication, increase motivation and set attainable goals.

SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ32)

The SHL OPQ32 gives insight into a candidate's perception of their preferred behavioural work style and their likely performance. This personality test presents the candidate with 100 questions, and each question has four statements of behaviour. The questions have no right or wrong answer and there is no answering timeframe. Rather, the instructions require candidates to answer as quickly as possible without lengthy reflection.

To answer the questions, the candidate chooses which of the statements is 'most like' and 'least like' them at work. These behaviour questions recur throughout the questionnaire. Employers use this test to find out a candidate's potential tenacity for both the specific job role and the organisation's culture and to observe their consistency in answering the questions.

Read more: A guide on how to ace an interview (with tips and examples)

How to take a personality test

Below are some tips that can help you get accurate results on a personality test:

1. Answer honestly

Some personality tests require answers that use the 'degree of agreement' scale. For instance, a recruiter may ask you how strongly you agree with a particular sentence on a scale of 1–5, where five represents 'strongly agree' and one represents 'strongly disagree'. Such questions might seem confusing, but the best approach is to simply reflect on how you feel about the concept.

2. Study the job description

When preparing for a job interview, it's a good idea to anticipate a personality test. An easy way to score well on an assessment is to check the job-specific traits like self-motivation and attention to detail. Keeping this in mind is crucial, as it can determine whether your score meets the employer's criteria.

3. Take a practice test

If you think the interview might include a personality test, take a practice test to prepare. You can find several personality tests online. Practising helps familiarise you with personality test formats and boosts your confidence.

Related: Interview with the CEO (including interview questions)

4. Avoid too many of the same answers

One challenge in taking a personality test is giving the same answers. If you cluster your answers on one extreme, the employer may perceive you as a candidate who lacks different opinions. So, it's very important that you challenge yourself to deeply understand each question and your perception of it before you answer.

5. Take your time

Before answering any question, it's advisable to read the instructions and questions carefully. Ensure you understand what the question is about, as it can change as the test continues. Then, answer honestly, based on your personality.

Related:

  • 9 types of pre-employment testing (examples & definitions)


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