4 Ways to Beat a Personality Test

Free_personality_testingMost people have fibbed at one time or another, but should you come clean on a pre-hire personality test? The good news is that it’s possible to be honest and still ace the test as long as you follow these tips.

Tip No. 1: Understand the Desired Traits

Determine the desired traits and personality for someone in your role, since you can improve your score by supplying appropriate answers to questions that assess critical characteristics. For example, a desired trait for programmers is conscientiousness, so you may be asked whether you agree or disagree with these statements, which measure related behaviors such as diligence and reliability:

  • I am always prepared.
  • I pay attention to details.
  • I get chores done right away.
  • I like order.
  • I follow a schedule.

Tip No. 2: Take Practice Tests

Once you’ve determined the desirable traits take several practice tests (see links below) to see how you stack up. While you want to make a good impression, casting extreme answers to every question may actually hurt your chances. For example, a system analyst or project lead has more interaction with stakeholders than a programmer, so they need a high score on social interaction. On the other hand, programmers need to temper their answers to social interaction questions, to make sure they demonstrate a strong preference for independent work but don’t come off as isolationists. Improve your score by modifying your answers.

Tip No. 3: Spot Control Questions

Watch out for tricky “control” questions that are specifically designed to flush out fakers. For example, you may be asked whether you strongly agree, somewhat agree, are neutral, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with this statement: “I have never been untruthful, even to save someone’s feelings.” Since you’ve probably told a white lie at some point, strongly disagreeing with this and similar statements may cast doubt on the honesty of your answers. On the other hand, being overly tolerant of deceptive behaviors could show proclivity to bend the rules or that you can’t be trusted with sensitive data or company information.

Tip No. 4: Read Questions Carefully

Test publishers validate an applicant’s score by measuring the consistency of their responses to similar questions with slightly different or reverse wording. To avoid extra scrutiny, read carefully and provide similar responses to questions that assess the same trait. For example, if you strongly agree with “I have a good imagination,” then you should strongly disagree with “I do not have a good imagination.”

Also, look for words like never, often, or sometimes, and consider their context when deciding to what extent you agree or disagree with a statement. Remember: Taking practice tests is absolutely the best way to supply consistent, honest answers and improve your score.

Related Links

Image: Free Personality Testing [Wikimedia Commons]

Comments

  1. BY feumar says:

    This s beyond belief. You have just proven that the whole personality test thing is a great big fiasco!
    The only defence for personality tests is that “there’s no right answer, we just want the truth” and you’ve just managed to explain that it’s just one more big mind game. Shame on you and the whole HR/career advice industry. You are the scum of the earth!

    • BY Jeremiah says:

      The answers themselves don’t actually matter. What they’re looking for is how your answers match up with the answers of other successful employees that they know are reliable. If you answer the same answer as employees that have been good employees, they want you to work for them.

      • BY Barry says:

        It’s garbage. I can answer the same question different ways depending on how I feel at the time.

  2. BY Doug_B says:

    If the test is circumvented so easily, then it is not a proven, quality test. If it’s not a good predictor, its a great disservice to both the employer and the employee.

    Why be someone else than you’re not?

    This is horrible advice.

  3. BY feumar says:

    OK, Doug_B has just put it a little more diplomatically than i did. Sorry, everyone, for my outburst earlier — it was a little over the top. Depression talk.

    • BY Proud Paulbot says:

      If you think your comments were over-the-top, ask a shrink what they think about these tests being [mis]used by amateurs, for purposes the tests were NOT designed for.

  4. BY Doug_B says:

    @Feumar – I don’t think you were ‘over the top’. What has happened that know-nothing middle men in management and HR team up to create a system that feeds on itself. Human Capital Consultants (who are neither IT/Engineering/etc) feel they are qualified to give advice to workers who are being dominanted / judged by the management that has paid the HR Consultants to give them in the first place! This is one big circular mess, and IMHO garbage advice, by people trying to construct a phoney work place gulag reality. It’s the only thing they can do to justify their existance.

  5. BY Proud Paulbot says:

    Shrinks–real shrinks, the ones who actually went to school for psychology or psychiatric medicine–HATE that these tests are scored by HR people whose experience in the mental health field consists of, at best, one semester of Psych or Industrial Psych.

    The MMPI and similar “personality tests” were never meant to be used as job screening tools and scored by laypeople with no education or training in mental health. They were designed to be used by trained mental health professionals to diagnose psychiatric disorders. Laypeople don’t have the education or experience to properly interpret the results of these tests. They are meant to determine whether an individual has things like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, not whether they’d fit into your “company culture.”

    • BY Doug_B says:

      I highly doubt that any company would use an MMPI – cause it takes too long to administer, and it has to be interpretated. I’m sure they use some ‘junk science test’ from those low life, slime sucking bottom feeders like Taleo.

      I certainly wouldn’t share any MMPI results with anyone but trusted professionals.

      • BY EMM says:

        I use Taleo every day, and I have not noticed a personality test feature. Also, Taleo is a tool, and most issues people have with it are related to how a company uses it. Not all HR professionals use these tests, or consider them reliable sources of information.

        It is difficult to find out if a candidate will work well in the company culture, and there is no perfect solution. We rely on extensive interviews, but perception of the interviewers always plays a part. If anyone has a better suggestion, I’m open to it.

    • BY Leslie Stevens-Huffman says:

      Dear PROUD,

      Thanks for your comments. Actually, the scoring matrix is generally developed by the provider using a blend of standardized data and the results from the company’s top performers. In fact, many companies only use assessments that are validated by the American Psychological Association. I’m not familiar with the MMPI, most of the pre-hire assessments I’ve seen are similar to Myers Briggs or Wonderlic in that they assess the candidate’s aptitude and fit for the position. Some contain a few questions that could indicate emotional instability or other issues but the test wasn’t designed to be a diagnostic tool. Pre-hire assessments aren’t new—I’ve taken lots of them over the years—and candidates shouldn’t be hired or eliminated based upon their score, but they’re becoming more popular so candidates need a basic understanding of the fundamentals.

      Good luck.

      • BY feumar says:

        “4 Ways to Beat a Personality Test.”
        If it can be beaten, it’s not a personality test, it’s a game!
        “… pre-hire assessments … assess the candidate’s aptitude and fit for the position.”
        “… candidates shouldn’t be hired or eliminated based upon their score.”
        Leslie, which of your contradictions do you believe? If you don’t see any, you’ve failed an intelligence test.

        • BY EMM says:

          Feumar, “beating the test” is essentially like lying on a resume or in an interview. It’s falsifying information to get hired. It’s cheating, and cheating on a test does not make it a game.

        • BY josh says:

          Awesome!

      • BY Leslie Stevens-Huffman says:

        Dear Feumar,

        The tests do assess the candidate’s fit but again, it’s just one more thing that employers should consider along with the candidate’s experience, references and so forth since it’s not a crystal ball. I’m not advocating the use of these tests or their effectiveness, but they are one more thing that job seekers should prepare for and consider when undertaking a search. If you’d study before a technical interview or think about your responses to the manager’s questions before a face-to-face interview then you should add personality assessments to your preparation list.

        Good luck.

      • BY Doug_B says:

        Leslie said: “I’m not familiar with the MMPI”

        Please take this as a constructive input: If you are not familiar with the MMPI it appears your knowledge of testing is very light.

        From Wikipedia:

        The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is one of the most frequently used personality tests in mental health. The test is used by trained professionals to assist in identifying personality structure and psychopathology. Among its many uses, it is perhaps best known as the personality test that is used in conjunction with Secret and Top Secret security clearances required for many positions within United States federal agencies that incur an extensive responsibility for life and property, such as the Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

        • BY Mark Feffer says:

          That’s really not a fair statement, Doug, especially in this context. The MMPI isn’t designed as a pre-hiring test: It’s meant to be used to identify mental health disorders more than the personality traits of a prospective employee. I’m pretty sure that its results are regarded as medical information, and the kind of information that employers can’t use to make a hiring decision. I can see where it might be used in awarded security clearances, but that’s a different thing.

      • BY DougB says:

        Know what an ENTJ is?

      • BY xnert1 says:

        Pop psychology has it nowadays that the top dogs in companies tend to be sociopaths. So it sounds like the companies’ scoring matrices are going to be skewed towards hiring sociopaths.

    • BY BambiB says:

      And the truth about shrinks is that most of them went into the field to try to understand what’s wrong with THEM or others in their family.

      A lot of psychiatry/psychology is voodoo “science” to begin with, and a test that purports to gauge a person’s “personality” may be only slightly more (or less) effective than tarot cards or ouija boards.

      • BY Louie Rosado says:

        BAMBIB,

        Your expression about the field of Psychology is unfair, furthermore, violates the outlines of theoretical frameworks and assumptions, in laymen’s terms, you are assuming too much, too fast.

        Whichever is the root of your problem whether nature or nurture, by badmouthing mental health workers isn’t going to help your obvious issues related to lifespan development and self esteem.

  6. BY nittanytiger says:

    Honestly, I wish we could draft a law to ban these from job applications. Interviews, hard work, and college credentials should determine the right candidate, not tests that create discouragement and encourage dishonesty.

  7. BY dan says:

    Personality tests like anyone who calls themselves “HR” are obsolete and a waste of time. They will be eliminated in the future.

    • BY Doug_B says:

      These companies should outsource HR and Management ( to Guam or Antartica )

  8. BY crystalballroom says:

    I have run into these test for vetting candidates more in the past year than ever. With the glut of candidates, and the absence of really good jobs, it seems HR is incapable of accessing someone by talking to them. I had one company call me, excited to bring me in to talk about a job, i took a two question personality test and never heard from them again. I have never been told I have any personality traits other than cooperative, intelligent and easy to work with. But apparently I must be a sociopath or worse because the company has since never spoken to me again. They also have my test results and have refused to state to me they will keep them in confidence. I feel violated which is an understatement. Going forward – some kind of agreement before I take these silly tests and a guarantee i get to see the results. Then at least I have something to bring to my shrink because apparently I’m in dire need – never knew that!

  9. BY Howard Slacum says:

    I understand the frustration that goes along with having to take personality assessments. However, the whole process of getting a job has been a “game” for far longer than we’ve had computers. Guides have been written and advice given for how to write resumes, how to interview well, how to network, and so forth.

    Yes, it’s all a great big pain in the posterior. But part of the reason all of these mini-games exist is because job-seekers have been gaming employers for decades. People lie on resumes. People lie in interviews. They learn how to game those filters so the HR industry comes up with another.

    For the record, I am not an HR professional–and I am notoriously awful at interviewing and selling myself to employers in general. Once I get hired, though, I excel. So, I truly understand people’s frustration with these screens.

    • BY Doug_B says:

      How about the employers offer some information about the health of their company and the staff?

      What’s their financial shape? Do they have one client, or many? What happends if they lose the ‘big’ client. What was the average raise for the last 5 yrs? How many people have they laid off in the last 5 yrs? What’s the tenure of the average programmer? How often do you have to work more than 40 hrs? Please supply a list of the last 10 people who left the IT department.

      • BY Howard Slacum says:

        It is generally considered a good idea to research companies to which you are applying to that help make sure you will be a good fit–and also to impress them in the interview.

        I have no qualms about asking questions such as those you mentioned. (Of course, they probably can’t give me names of individuals who left–there are likely legalities involved–but what I would want to know is why they left.)

        Most else is fair game, though.

      • BY EMM says:

        These are questions that regularly arise in late interviews and offer processes.

  10. BY JMac says:

    I like the idea of the practice tests! I’ve taken several personality tests in the recent past and totally bombed the one evaluated by HR, but did well on the ones administered by a psychologist. I’ve found that I have a rough time balancing the statements pertaining to “quality vs. speed”. One psychologist suggested that I should be wary of coming off as too much of a perfectionist as opposed to someone who can “Git R Done”.

    • BY Leslie Stevens-Huffman says:

      Dear JMAC,

      Great tips! And it sounds like the psychologist was actually coaching you on some ways to beat the test so you aren’t perceived as being so meticulous that you gum up the works.

      Good luck.

      • BY xnert1 says:

        Ah, but what if you REALLY ARE so meticulous that you gum up the works?

        • BY JMAC says:

          After much reflection, I think that the perfectionist side of me does gum up the works at times. A lot of it pertains to a fear of putting out a product that would reflect poorly on my abilities.

          Also, much of my work has involved developing training programs related to safety and quality systems, and I tend to procrastinate on submitting those packages until the last possible minute just to make sure I haven’t missed something.

          I guess the big learning for me is that I work very well in a collaborative environment where the leaders are leaders and not managers.

          In my case, the testing did not impact my getting the position, but the feedback from the psychologist was a huge help in directing me on how best to modify and expand my work habits to encompass the both the speed and quality factors. So far, it’s working.

  11. BY Roach says:

    I have an easy solution for these in an interview; I politely decline and leave.

    You really don’t want to work anywhere (at least as an engineer) that uses these as a hiring criteria. The quality of people you’ll be working with is going to be mediocre, and if management thinks that’s the best way to screen applicants … well, draw your own conclusions as to their competence.

    The only time it might be acceptable is if you’re fresh out of college and looking for your first job. And once you’ve slogged it out working there for 1 – 2 years you go and find a better job working with better people.

  12. BY Doug_B says:

    @Mark Feffer: To quote Wikipedia: “The MMPI has been considered the gold standard in personality testing ever since its inception as an adult measure of psychopathology and personality structure in 1939″

    The MMPI has been around since 1939 – that’s 73 years. Almost anyone who has gone to college or has had one psych course has heard of the MMPI. If you’ve gone to a counslor, or therapist, or marriage counslor you probably took an MMPI.

    When Leslie says she has never heard of the MMPI – the number one personality test in the US, to me it casts a great amount of doubt as to the quality/validity of her advice about circumventing a personality test. She mentions Myers-Briggs which measures intro/extro version, judgementalism, rational/irrational, etc.. The Myers-Briggs is a good test, and there is no reason one should lie on the test. However I’ve never met any HR or Manager that would be intelligent enough to know what kind of Myers-Briggs score they were looking for.

    I’ve been married to a psychologist for 41 years, I’ve heard a lot about this “stuff”.

    • BY Phillip_R says:

      Why would anybody want to take a job which didn’t fit their personality in the long run? Eventually they would quite. People naturally gravitate towards professions they enjoy. People who enjoy there job do so because its a natural fit for there own personality. My Myers-Briggs results our a match for my profession. I didn’t take the test to figure that out. I took it years after being in my profession. I’d have to agree with you I doubt many HR departments are that aware to know the right Myers-Brigg results. They would have to take into account the other personality types which you would be working with too. How far do you go with that? I wouldn’t bother trying to fake my results.

      • BY xnert1 says:

        Because they DAMN WELL NEED A JOB. Try being out of work for any length of time and see what you’re willing to do, willing to accept, for the sake of bringing in a paycheck.

      • BY Proud Paulbot says:

        I agree with Xnert. People who cheerfully say that they could never do a job they didn’t wuvvvvvvvv have never been in a situation where they actually needed to work for a living. If things went bad, they could always call mommy and daddy and ask for a check.

        Most of us aren’t so fortunate. We have to take whatever jobs we can get, whether we like them or not, so that we can continue to live indoors.

    • BY xnert1 says:

      I’ve been in and out of therapy for the majority of the last thirty years and I don’t think I’ve ever taken an MMPI. In fact, I’d LIKE to, just to see if there’s a good, solid explanation for the way in which MY brain CLEARLY “doesn’t operate like other people’s.” I don’t know if I’m psychopathic, sociopathic, autistic, Asperger’s or just plain nuts/lazy, and I’d like to find out.

  13. BY almigrate says:

    Or, you could answer the test honestly and let it provide guidance about whether you’re a good fit for the job. Trying to outsmart a testing instrument often backfires because of the control questions, and shows you as dishonest (which is probably the #1 trait employers DON’T want to see.) But even if your reverse-engineering does work, it just means you got hired into a job that isn’t a good match for your real temperament, and you’ll likely be miserable.

    Leslie, I think you’re doing candidates a disservice by recommending that they start their relationship with a new employer by cheating.

  14. BY Marvin says:

    I don’t think they’re kidding people. You people rebutting HR’s and/or Corporate validation of these test know you’re pretty much pointing your finger and saying Dumb right? Forget you’re right in my opinion. You know you’re not getting hired right? There’s no explaining it to them. They’re experts, and these experts don’t think like you. Is this a world wide concept? If not, this country’s in a lot of trouble. We use to have a competitive edge. I’m afraid these guys, can I say guys, are like boat anchors. The upside for me is I’m probably old enough this isn’t going to matter much in my life time. Really sorry for those of you just entering the work force. It’s this brain bank that’s going to affect a lot of your lives. Good luck.

  15. BY jbone says:

    I’ve “blown” TWO ‘personality tests’ that I know of from prospective employers.
    One of them I KNOW I ‘lost’ with my answer to “Would you ever refuse to work overtime?” Well…IF my supervisor waited until 4:59 in the work day to ask me if I “could work until 6″, and if I already had plans for the evening (wedding anniversary, sporting event, movie or show), then I might turn the overtime down. ANY OTHER instance, and I would NOT turn it down.
    Apparently, this company decided that my “values” don’t match theirs, so not ONLY was I not offered the job, but I was PROHIBITED from APPLYING to ANY other job at that company for a “period of time not less than one year”. Gee, I wonder why they keep advertising to fill that Engineering position!
    The other test had this “strongly agree/slightly agree/neutral/slightly disagree/strongly disagree” statement: “I believe that it is important to never lie in the workplace.” Well, OK, lying is bad…but some supervisors I’ve worked with in the past believe it is OK to lie to…certain people, like a specific customer that he/she doesn’t like or care for. If a job or task they want can be completed in one day, then is it OK to tell them that it will be ready in FOUR days?? That’s the level of lying they accept…but other supers I’ve worked with did not tolerate ANY lying, about ANY thing, for ANY reason! No stretching the truth acceptable–tell the truth at all times!
    The company I whiffed this question on (think my answer was ‘neutral’!) NEVER gave me a reason why they didn’t hire me, and apparently couldn’t find anyonw who passed their test with flying colors, as they went from using their own HR department to using both the State employment commission AND a contract/temp agency to find someone for that slot, and when my resume was forwarded to the company by both, the company said ‘No thanks’ (followup contact with both the State agency and the temp folks).
    Often wonder WHO the HR departments answer to when they “can’t find” applicants for an open position…

  16. BY David Corson says:

    Personally, I think these test questions are very misleading. I think also that HR doesn’t care whether good people are hired. Personally, I don’t think that HR people really care if someone qualified gets hired or not. I have a bachelors degree from ITT Tech in Information Security. When I work for a company I NEVER BEND THE RULES!!! I was an overnight cashier for a gas station. Whenever someone wanted to buy alcohol or tobacco products, I ALWAYS CARDED THEM unless they were really old or if I had seen them before. Yet, I just recently was turned down from a at-home job because of these tests. Yet, they never called me to tell me why I was turned down. HR people are hurting a lot of good people like me from getting into the I.T. field. Further, I don’t trust them on grading the test. Think about it!!! If they have a candidate that they want in the company they will do anything to “eliminate” the other candidates. This is bad because the candidate the company wanted had better credentials than the other did. I feel like I’m being screwed out of IT jobs because of these tests. I have all these loans to pay off and I can’t wonder if these tests are going to end costing me the job I was qualified for.

    • BY senna says:

      i’m wondering now if i’ve been miserably failing at getting back employed as a result of these tests. my resume is fine- it doesn’t have a whole lot on it in the way of credentials because i’m fresh out of college and i’ve only worked at two places (both during my college years) and one of those jobs was a seasonal position. i performed just fine at those jobs and in both cases my coworkers AND bosses didn’t even want me to leave and asked me to consider sticking around; yet when i take these tests, i feel like HR and the hiring managers never even give me the chance to show them what a great employee i can be, that i’m diligent and dependable and a team player, etc. Nope, it all goes out the window because i guess i’m getting stomped by these stupid assessments which ask you questions in a freaking vacuum. the questions they ask are all usually context-dependent, and yet you get NONE when taking them, so of course you’re forced to answer “dishonestly” because you’re not sure often times what they’re looking for when they ask you the question, or what they really mean by it. it’s so frustrating to have applied for well over 100 jobs since January just to have heard back from only 4, with only one of those having progressed to a face-to-face interview. Totally fail. Meanwhile, i see the people who are actually employed in life and i know for a fact i could do the job better than many of them could. Amazing how people who have jobs take the jobs for granted. wish i could be so lucky. but then again, i guess i was one of those people a few years ago, but i’ll never look at employment the same way again.

  17. BY OMG No! No! No! says:

    I just tried taking these sample tests and came in so low in score I cried all day! I mean this is depressing! I am a graduate engineer, but I have never been able to take a timed test because I have dyslexia, and read very slowly. The questions were so detailed that by the time I read them and the answers available, I timed out. This is sickening. I have been unemployed since last Feb, and have been actively interviewing, but the economy is so very aweful I can’t find work. If the companies I am interviewing with are going to demand these tests, I will never pass them, and never find work. I’m only good at my specialty, and these questions are so off the mark I can’t do them. OMG please say this is not the trend here in the USA. Please, or I should just consider suicide, as I will never pass and never get work again.

    • BY JMac says:

      For what it’s worth, some companies use tests that are not timed, and my sense is that these tests might provide a more accurate picture of you personality and capabilities.

      I believe that HR departments place an undue importance on these tests as an “objective” means for whittling down the number of applicants in the pool. The tests are used primarily to screen out, but are not so effective for screening in.

      One other suggestion I would make is that you look for contracting opportunities that will let you showcase your talents without having to go through testing. These opportunities can lead to full-time positions or references that can be a big help in your search.

      Good Luck!

    • BY xnert1 says:

      I can’t tell you how many personality/skill inventory things I’ve taken where it’s turned up with NO suitable careers! One of them was supposed to show the areas of overlap between my “interests” and my “skills” — and there WASN’T any; all my skills were on one side of the page and all my interests were on the other.

      How depressing.

      The most positive spin I can put on results like these is that I’ll be “equally good at ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING,” but I can’t help but adding, in my head, “…if only by way of being equally BAD at anything and everything.”

    • BY v says:

      if you let hr know before you take the test or check the tests themselves sometimes they have alternates – alternatives – or interviews – hr tends to be very careful with perceived discrimination to people with disabilities – NOT saying that you are. don’t consider suicide – you’re dead for a long, long time! Consider an SBA loan to start Your Own Business – Consider starting in a different field and gravitating towards tech – i’ve worked with a lot of college graduates at home depot, target – i’ve found a job i love sorting donations @ goodwill and learning php, mysql, and jquery in my spare time – try our JOB CONNECTION or your local employment office for SBA info. times are rough, but hang in there

      • BY OMG No! No! No! says:

        I didn’t say RECENT graduate. I’m 60 and broke from the prolonged unemployment. I’ve tried to start a business before, but my husband would not cooperate with the endeavor. We live out on a small ranch, and cattle are a loss not a gain. It’s too far out from anywhere to find meaningful engineering employment. He won’t move, so I have to get an apartment out of town to hold down a job, then send the money home to pay his mortgage. I’ve seen every kind of discrimination out there: I’m too fat, too old, I’m female, I’m deaf, and I read too slow to pass a timed “personality test”. A couple years ago I was recovering from a broken leg, and no one would hire me with a bad limp using a cane until I could walk straight a year later. Even though I have an amazing resume, people will find any excuse to not hire me. Most of the time I get the feeling HR interviews me just to say they interviewed a woman engineer for the job, with no intention of actually hiring me. The depression just worsens and I’m probably showing it with excessive anxiousness or nervousness. We can’t live on social security alone, but that’s all that’s left now since my retired husbands company raided his pension fund. Forcing me to take a personality test would just devastate me. It says that all the hard work and education I’ve put into my career is just meaningless. I refuse to give up my self-respect, they took my pride years ago.

  18. BY A DBA says:

    The Myers Briggs test was created by two people who had no education or background and has NO scientific validity whatsoever.

    I had to take the MMPI a few years ago to qualify for a course. I have been in IT for around 30 years. The first time I took the test it told me I should become a carpenter or an airline pilot. Wow…what a waste my life has been? An airline pilot? Who knew???

    • BY DougB says:

      You have it all wrong. The MMPI doesn’t tell you anything about what you should ‘be’.

      The Meyers-Briggs is based on observations by a very brilliant man: Karl Jung – the preeminent student of Sigmund Freud. It describes your personality traits – not your occupation. It’s been verified by the scientific testing of millions of people.

      You took some sort of interest inventory. From your conclusion, you sound like the IT person who doesn’t listen, goes off on his own, and get’s it wrong.

  19. BY DougB says:

    Mark Feffer said: ” It’s (MMPI) meant to be used to identify mental health disorders more than the personality traits of a prospective employee.”

    Mental health disorders – surely you jest – it’s just a measure. Again, you speak with no knowledge, but a lot of self authority.

    Mark Feffer said: I’m pretty sure that its results are regarded as medical information, and the kind of information that employers can’t use to make a hiring decision.”

    Here again, wrong. What makes an MMPI more ‘medical’ than Myers-Briggs, or any phoney test from Taleo? Maybe because you think it’s more accurate?

    I’m sorry you feel you have to do Dice dammage control. But articles like “How to pass an XYZ test” are very, very, troublesome. Borders on advocating dishonesty.

    I don’t mean to be on your a**. I think it’s wrong to defend this article. Put this article in the “Do Not Do This Kind Of Thing Again” bin.

    Why would I waste my time even writing this response? It’s because as a degreed, thinking, achiver, I and my associates have been dehumanized by HR and Hiring Managers, recuriters, and the ‘empty advice IT industry’. I don’t intend to take it anymore. So I speak up – respectfully.

    • BY danielsimms says:

      The MMPI, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, is a diagnostic tool for mental disorders. It contains questions about whether or not you can control your bowels, or believe in divinity, and is therefore totally inappropriate as a basis for hiring, if not outright illegal. Go look it up.

  20. BY Emil Friedman says:

    There is a big problem with questions like: Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, are neutral, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with this statement: “I have never done such-and-such.”

    Let’s say that I rarely do “such-and-such”. Many people might answer “somewhat disagree”, but if I interpret the question literally I have to strongly disagree because it contains the word “never”. Do the tests expect answers to the question as literally phrased or do they expect answers to what I think the poorly worded question “really meant”?

    • BY Leslie Stevens-Huffman says:

      Dear EMIL,

      Essentially, the “computer” will evaluate your responses to a number of questions that are designed to assess specific behaviors and traits so things should even out if you answer consistently. For example, if you occasionally do “such and such” and the question states “never” then you should somewhat disagree. But that’s why we recommend taking practice tests so you can see if your score accurately depicts your personality.

      Good luck.

  21. BY William says:

    Yeah,
    You can “play the game, be part of the machine”, wow the coporate world of the great US of A is something now to behold! Go through all the hoops, dress in the latest craze, good luck if you are not 38-24-36 or an alternative wonder dregged out of the latest college collections. And look out if you actually have values and really live a life devoid of moral depravity. But it’s about that “paycheck”. The new high performance cars to impress the barstool bimbos and golddiggers.
    And then there really isn’t any problem with a few lies here and there, spreading a few VD germs around town, backstabbing the fellow coworker that is trying to figure out how to extend his or her credit to buy the newest and greatest suits at a 600% markup. Heck, just go for a ponzi scheme with your BA and the latest cultural minority wonders. Alcohol, a few drugs here and there, some antidepressants, a good silver tongue, $100,000.00 plus debt, some mixed martial arts that proves to the wonderful ladies you can kill the adversary if you lose control some friday night after a few too many lines and bourbons and coke; walk down Americas spiritual and economic suicide that was chosen by our latest and greatest election results! Waltz with the married infidels bleeding them of their spouses hard earned pasts. Join forces with the present day liberal fools; they are educated, crafty, spiteful, really hip and cool, but wait, where are the values and morals? I guess it’s asking too much to expect these simple things of life where a fetus, unborn human is destroyed in the blink of an eye, where moral depravation demands respect and perversion rules where mammon curses the clueless. Welcome to 2012 America! It’s only the beginning so get it why you can before eternity takes over!! What a ride.

    • BY Doug_B says:

      @William: “Welcome to 2012 America! It’s only the beginning so get it why you can before eternity takes over!! What a ride.”

      When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. After the last election it appears the people in the US aren’t ready. Maybe we have to hit rock bottom like a career alcholic or junkie.

      I think Tuesday’s election was a significant, but subtle turning point for the US. The American people overwhelmingly voted themselves the treasury. I want mine: my SNAP, my Section 8, my Medicaid, my AFDC, my SSI Disability, my infinite unemployment check, because I’m entitled to it.
      Meanwhile, the Fed prints $40,000,000,000 of new money a month, and loans this money to banks at 0% interest. The Fed is also propping up the banks by buying defaulted mortgages – turning private debt into public debt. Eventually, we will experience a high level of inflation. However the metrics used by the Fed, to compute inflation are way below the actual rate of inflation.
      So all those folks who “want theirs” are going to receive benefits with a COLA of perhaps 1.5%, while the real rate of inflation will be 8% – 9%. Thus after several years, the Fed will ‘gut’ their entitlement. The scammers are going to be scammed by the scammer-in-chief: Obama.

  22. BY BobBaft says:

    I took one of these tests one time and the questions stated “When I go up stairs, I sometimes take two steps at a time”. Being 6’4″ and athletic, I can and do take two steps at a time, so I answered “Yes”. Apparently they correlated that to me skipping steps in processes and did not hire me.

    Quit beating around the bush and just ask me what the eff you want to know.

  23. BY xnert1 says:

    But I really _am_ isolationist, disorganized, socially awkward, super-perfectionist + easily distracted and relatively unproductive, etc. etc. etc. Should I answer the questions honestly so as avoid a job that would be a bad fit for me (i.e. would make me *and* my employers unhappy), or lie so that I can “get a job, any job, to hell with the consequences and rapid turnover on my resume?”

  24. BY v says:

    i can like and copy – how do i SHARE to facebook?

  25. BY JMac says:

    Pop quiz. As you walk into the hiring manager’s office for an interview, he/she “accidentally” drops a crumpled piece of paper onto the floor on your side of the desk. Would you pick it up and hand it to the interviewer, or would you ignore it?

    Your answer is important, because it’s going to determine whether the interview proceeds as planned, or it becomes a perfunctory discussion that ends with “We have a lot of people to interview, and we’ll get back to you.”

    As to the personality test, knowing what the company wants is critical. The odds are good that, at some point in your career or personal life, you’ve had the “personality” the company is seeking. For example, I am a total introvert, but I used to conduct leadership presentations, which is sort of an extroverted activity. When it comes to multi-tasking, I prefer focusing my attention on one task at a time, but I can multi-task if that’s what the situation calls for. I love working alone, but I have successfully led and worked as part of teams to get things done.

    If I know that the position will require me to participate in a team environment, is it fibbing to say that I enjoy working in groups, even though I prefer working alone?

    • BY hopper writer says:

      “… is it fibbing to say that I enjoy working in groups, even though I prefer working alone?”

      It may be fibbing to only say “I enjoy working in groups” if I prefer working alone. It’s more honest to say “I enjoy working in groups and working alone”. A reasonable interviewer should understand and appreciate this. A multiple-choice behavior test cannot reason and is a crap shoot.

  26. BY BB says:

    These personality tests are completely meaningless. I say this as a person who aced them for 3 different large companies. Each time the airhead HR person (sorry to be redundant) said they were “impressed” and hired me. When selecting answers, just remember the caliber of people who write and grade these things, and be very, VERY cynical. These were not the people taking Calculus or Statistics in high school.

    I asked one HR VP how their senior leadership did on the test. He said the executive team had never been tested, which tells you what they really think. Of course I doubt a test would have flushed out that their leaders were psychopaths..

    The IQ tests are more useful, but again the process is fatally flawed. On one IQ test, the very last question had two equally right answers. After being hired I asked which answer they wanted, but the airhead insisted there was only one right answer, which I had picked, so I should just move along. I showed her another answer was equally right. She then said “well, we wanted to know which right answer you would pick” which I should have seen coming.

  27. BY Sidra Ali says:

    Personality assessment is an area of recruitment which many people are highly afraid of. There are different viewpoints regarding how to be successful in a personality assessment test. Gaining information regarding the most commonly used types of personality tests and their advantages are highly important success in a job interview. I have found the material of this article
    https://psychometrictestguru.com/blog/an-overview-of-personality-tests/
    highly useful and informative. Those who are interested in knowing helpful details must consult it.

  28. BY marvin says:

    what is the world comming to. an assessement test? are you kidd’in me. just do a hair folicole drug test. I’ve been working for 30 years. took a few assessement tests which i failed. have one comming up with chrsyler. are you kidding me. i’m a supervisor now. as mentioned ive been in the work force a long time. and i will say this half of the people who pass this assessement test lie. but the company doesnt want any dishonestey. do you know someone who has stolen in your lifetime now i’m hang’in around with thieves give me a break whatever happen to personal interviews. I work with people who could pass the assessement two times over book smart. but can’t do the job at hand too slow can’t follow directions just flat out can’t do the job but they passed the assessement. i can go on about this but i got to go to work. cox_166@hotmail.com

  29. BY Bart says:

    Ms Huffman wrote: “Remember: Taking practice tests is absolutely the best way to supply consistent, honest answers and improve your score”

    I’m not sure what Ms. Huffman learned in her 20 year career but practice is thought to make perfect not honest.

  30. BY Marsha says:

    HI ,
    Just took at test with a company that i used to work for before i stayed home with my kids. I have proven how strong of a worker i was with this company over 10 yrs ago..I never called in sick,worked extra hours,worked fast and efficient, was pleasant with the customers and would take extra hours when they needed me.MY TEST CAME OUT I WAS NOT DEPENDABLE!!!! EXplain that!!!!!!

  31. BY Michael says:

    For what it is worth you wrote a GREAT!! article, it is almost a year and we are still commenting. I think you should do a follow up from some of the points raised.

    Cheers!!

  32. BY Leigh says:

    I recently had my first experience with these assessments, which is what has prompted me to research how they work. I was amazed at some of the questions, which required “black or white” responses. I found myself thinking many times that the answer really depends on the situation. I am an excellent employee, educated and successful in past jobs and these assessments rejected me for jobs as teller and mail processor for one large bank. I have been out of work several months and am experiencing the same frustrations as most job hunters. We are in the midst of a job market that is very selective and discriminatory and HR departments (whose budgets have been slashed to the bone) have come up with ways to process huge quantities of applicants with limited resources. It’s not fair to anyone and nothing will change until our country’s leaders find a way to stimulate the economy enough to create jobs and a high demand for good employees. Then, once again employers will be fighting over us as they were several years ago. Until then, I have heard it said that smaller companies are much less likely to use these types of screening tools and are also more likely to hire older workers. By the way, this particular online app required my birthdate, which made me suspicious. I thought that was illegal?

  33. BY jolie says:

    I once took an assessment. That week was a bad week, and I was feeling down and in a bout of depression. Took the test and the results weren’t good. Then the temp lady had the balls to ask me, “Can you explain why your test results came out this way?” She wasn’t even a psychotherapist, so now, I have to explain the personal business of my life? I asked for my resume back and left.

    Now, I’m always studying on how to pass these tests before taking them. That’s how I found this article! HR is scum! They want your entire life, but the companies they work for don’t want to give you anything in return for it. I’ve been studying HR in Korea and China. Despite being communist country and having socialist tendencies, they look at hiring as a lifetime commitment. They know that if they hire you, they will be educating you for life. And they will treat you accordingly. American HR is just bull crap. Companies are moving overseas, and well, as an international communications scholar, I gotta say that Americans should look for work in other countries.

  34. BY Lily Goodwin says:

    There aren’t many good sources to take practice tests. One excellent source I found is at http://www.acejobtest.com where you can test yourself with real questions used in employment-oriented personality test.

  35. BY hobart says:

    Careful, Your posts on this blog will reveal your personality.

  36. BY Ron says:

    These tests are high-tech forms of age discrimination. I have 35 experience as a regional manager where I handled conflict service resolution on a daily basis. I applied at a company and the HR person called me within two days after receiving my resume and asked me to take their test. She was excited about my experience. I took the test from my home and in less than a minute after taking the test received an email stating unfortunately my score did not qualify me to proceed further. The answers where all about service delivery. I answered the questions in an age appropriate manner, given my experience. Two things to consider, they compare the answers to people in the organization who they consider high performers – but they don’t tell you why. There is a good probability those people were a sample group under the age of 50. Older more experienced people like me will generally take matters in their own hands and solve the service issue. They won’t pass it on to a manager for handling. The other issue is the test asked for my month, day and year of birth, which is against the law. You cannot complete the test unless all mandatory questions are answered. I know from experience companies want to avoid the legacy cost of older people. I asked for the test results and was told by the company they did not know the results as the test was administered by a third party. I asked for an interview anyway given my years of experience. They would not do that. So, I sent all this to my local Senator and said this needs Congressional review to rule out age discrimination. Many companies are doing this. How easy is it for a test to determine whether someone is over 50? Very easy, even I can create such a test of all I have to do is write 30 questions. Being myself, I answered the questions in the highest form of proven world class customer service with 21 years of experience with a company acclaimed for customer service. Bottom line, test or not, I have the experience and I’m almost 60 years old and the company learned that very quickly and needs a pace to hide behind age discrimination laws.

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