Most 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.
- Where to Find Practice Personality Tests [Dummies.com]
- Jung Typology Test [Humanetrics.com]
- Brainbench Test Center [Brainbench.com]
Image: Free Personality Testing [Wikimedia Commons]