“How on this fine earth do you ‘test’ someone on their personality?! Surely their personality shines through in a job interview?”
Yep, that’s what we thought too when we first heard of personality tests, but believe it or not they are an actual thing and usually used by organisations who are expecting a lot of applications for a job, such as graduate schemes. They’re used to get a feel for your general personality and how well you’ll fit into an organisation and the current team of employees already working there.
Understandably, different organisations look for different personality types and what they look for could depend on the role too. Some characteristics will suit different occupations too. For example, it would be very handy indeed if a prospective air steward was outgoing and friendly!
Personality Traits That Are Measured
Personality tests typically measure five traits:
- Conscientiousness (Efficiency to Carelessness)
- Agreeableness (Friendliness to Coldness)
- Neuroticism (Nervousness to Confidence)
- Openness (Curiosity to Cautiousness)
- Extraversion (Outgoingness to Solidarity).
It seems fairly bizarre that these characteristics are now somehow measurable but there are questions employers can ask that will show them what kind of person you are. These aren’t necessarily related to the job either. Let’s show you an example:
True or false: I like parties and socials.
If you respond with true, this shows that you’re friendly and have an outgoing personality. If you responds with false, it could mean that you’re more independent. This can indicate how well you would be able to work as a part of a team, or whether you’re a leader or a follower (responding with true could suggest that you like being part of a crowd, perhaps that you even follow the crowd).
Other questions could involve ranking yourself on a scale of one to five on how good you are at planning ahead.
How to ‘Pass’ a Personality Test
As you can probably guess, results depend on interpretation of the answers provided. The majority of the time, you would have ‘failed’ a personality test because you are not perceived to be the character type required.
You could also ‘fail’ a personality test because your answers are inconsistent, which suggests you’ve been trying to make yourself fit in the box and present yourself in a false light. Remember, the questions could be designed to trick you, so if asked “True or false: You are always honest” you should probably answer false, because we’ve all told a few porky pies here and there.
Be warned, even if you do ‘pass’ the personality test by presenting a false character and manage to land the job, this could mean that you won’t actually enjoy the job or will struggle to perform well because the job role is suited to the person you pretended to be, rather than the person you actually are.
If you find yourself ‘failing’ at this stage of a job application often, ask yourself whether you really want to follow this specific career path. Personality tests are designed to see if you can carry out the specific job, so think about whether you’re applying because you like the job or the wage packet.
If you’re sure you want this career, try looking for a different route into your chosen field. It’s usually only larger organisations that recruit using personality tests, so you could try applying for jobs at smaller organisations, where your personality will be ‘tested’ by an interview.