Job Interview Questions? Beat the Personality Test!

By: Andrew LaDuke

During an interview, the hiring manager says they like you, they insist you are the one but want you to take a personality test. Do you say yes or no?

A negative test will mean the hiring manager will go with the other candidate. Will you risk questionable results from this pre-employment personality test?  

How to beat and ace the
personality test during an interview!

1) Why are personality test used by HR departments during the interview?

That's because managers want to avoid risk.
Nobody wants to have to explain why they were the one that hired the guy that had 'skewed' results on the personality profile. So they will choose the candidate that the test results show to be the best choice. 

2) Are Personality Test Reliable!
First, you have to understand that personality tests are unreliable and can be manipulated. 

  • They only measure different attitudes about things from different people. Your attitude about something in general cannot be used to predict how you'll react to business situations.
  • They cannot predict behavior because behavior is context sensitive. People act differently in different situations.
  • They associate success with different personality types. In fact, personality requirements are different for different jobs.

3) You need to learn how your answers will be interpreted by employers! Example

  • Q. I have never told a lie.
    1. Strongly Agree
    2. Agree
    3. Neutral
    4. Disagree
    5. Strongly Disagree
  • Analysis
    No one could ever make this claim while being honest. Not Abe Lincoln, not George Washington. So when you come across this question, If you answer is 1 or 2, you're going to set off some red flags. In fact, you'll probably set off some fireworks. Your best answer is 4 'Disagree.'

    When you answer 4, the employer will interpret this as you are an honest person. Answering 5 will make you unrealistic and a liar. Everyone has told a lie at some point in their time. With proper preparation and study, you will be able to understand the psychology behind these tests.

4) If personality test can be manipulated, why are so many employers using them today? 

  • Corporate use of the pre-employment screening test has increased 300% in the last five years alone because of complex computer modeling that employs powerful mathematical algorithms, making the results far more accurate than ever before.
  • Another reason employers love these tests are simply because there is nothing else out there to evaluate you with. Your previous employer will refrain from saying anything negative about you because they may risk litigation. So today, your previous employer(s) will only confirm your dates of employment. 

5) Is it ethical to learn how to manipulate these tests?

  • Absolutely.
    People will tell you 'just answer the questions honestly.' But you're only human. If you're taking a test for a job that can really advance your career, you can't help but be a little apprehensive when you take the test.
  • So what's the next step?
    Let's take a further look at some example questions below, and examine exactly how your answers will be interpreted. 

6) Let's begin by putting our questions into segments.
For demonstration purposes, let's assume the segment is 'reliability.'

  • Here are some questions on reliability;
    Q1. How thorough are you?
    Q2. Will you complete assignments?
    Q3. Are you the type who always arrives on time?
    Q4. Work is the most important thing in my life.
  • How should you answer?
    Put yourself in the employer's shoes. They have objectives to meet, and are looking for employees that are dedicated. They want to know that you'll be perfectly willing to go the extra mile. They don't want someone who puts their hobby, kids, housework, or pets at the same priority level. So absolutely select 'agree' or 'strongly agree' as the answer to this question. 

7) Answering a Trick Question

  • Q. I would be interested in learning how people handle stress at work.
    Answer : Yes, No or Neutral

    This is a trick question.
    Agree and you could be saying that you can't handle stress. Disagree, and you might think you could be admitting that you don't like to learn new things. In this case, the best choice is actually 'neutral.'

    When you answer neutral, this means it's not an important issue to you. So while you might glance at an article about stress, you don't seek out therapies, books, alcohol, etc. as a way to relieve stress. Almost all employee experience tension at work. Employers want to know that you won't have extreme reactions like yelling or screaming and that the tension won't affect your health and make you seek medical or psychological assistance. 

Personality test is getting more and more common today. Like any other part of the job search process, you need to do your homework. Good luck.

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