Pre-employment personality tests serve a two-fold purpose: to ensure the applicant is right for the job and that the job is right for the applicant. It is extremely important that applicants understand this as they prepare to be interviewed, tested or otherwise examined by a prospective employer. In this case, the word "test" may be misleading; job-seekers should not see it as a "pass or fail" test, but rather a "right fit" examination.
Understand the Types of Tests
Pre-employment personality tests can come in many forms. Common examples are true or false questionnaires, scaled-response surveys or essay questions. True or false questions usually pertain to specific situations. For example, one may read, "I enjoy working as a member of a team." Scaled-response questions are similar to true or false questions but are ranked from "Strongly Disagree" to "Strongly Agree" with more neutral responses in the middle. Essay questions are more open-ended, such as, "Describe a time in a past position in which you had to work within a team." These tests may also be timed, which serves multiple purposes, including to ensure the prospective employee can "think on his feet" and that questions are answered truthfully.
List Qualities Beforehand
Many prospective employees might not know how to "sell themselves" and may consequently overlook some of their best qualities. Before taking a personality test, job seekers should prepare a list of their personality traits that would attract a future employer. In making this list, applicants take an honest look at themselves and evaluate whether they believe for themselves that they are the right fit for the position. It also lessens the chance that they will "freeze up" when asked questions, since they will be able to recall specific examples from their past that they can use to answer essay questions or perform well in critical response situations. When given only one shot for an interview, it is important to make sure prospective employers know everything about an applicant that would lead to them getting hired.
The most important advice a job seeker can take when preparing for a personality test is to be honest. Again, a prospective employee should not be preoccupied with getting a job but focused on getting the right job. Skewing test results by answering questions the way an applicant thinks the boss wants them to only hurts both parties involved. A boss who goes through the process of hiring a less-than-enthusiastic employee ultimately regrets it, and a less-than-enthusiastic employee is miserable every day when they arrive to work. Finding employment is obviously very important, but finding the right job is paramount to finding happiness.
Find a Balance
Along with being honest, applicants should relax when given personality tests that have a bearing on their future employment. That is not to say that job seekers should "be themselves" to the point that they let their "weekend persona" show, but they shouldn't be so nervous to the point that their thought process shuts down. Employers use pre-employment exams not only to discover more about a person's disposition but also to see how the candidate works under pressure. When facing prospective employment, being prepared, honest and calm is just as important as the results of a personality test.
Matt Duczeminski is a before- and after-school tutor and supervisor for the CLASP program in the Cheltenham School District. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz's Master of Science in education (Literacy, B-6), Duczeminski has worked in a variety of suburban areas as a teacher, tutor and recreational leader for the past eight years.