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How to Perform Well During a Personality Test

To help you perform well during a personality test, get a good night’s sleep and be truthful in all your answers. Take practice personality tests online (try eTest or SHL Group) so you'll get a sense of what to expect.

The following sections provide more tips for how to perform well on the test.

Visualize yourself fitting in

Based on your research of the company, imagine the ideal candidate. How would that paragon of virtue think? When you hit a wall with a weird question, your fallback position is to try to answer as the ideal candidate/perfect employee.

When in doubt, position yourself as a person of moderation in the mainstream of contemporary thought. Test administrators tend to grade unconventional beliefs as potential trouble.

Company managers prefer to hire people like themselves. Although similarly-minded employees don’t always do better, a personality kinship gives managers a warm, fuzzy feeling by knowing that everyone looks and talks alike. At least in spirit.

Choose answers suggesting positive traits

Try to select answers that put you in the most positive light. Examples of favored characteristics include

  • Achievement-oriented

  • Agreeable

  • Assertive

  • Conscientious

  • Dependable

  • Emotionally stable

  • Good communicator

  • Imaginative

  • Intellectually curious

  • Open to new experiences

  • Optimistic

  • Responsible

  • Sociable

  • Tolerant

  • Trustworthy

Avoid answers suggesting negative traits

Stay away from answers that show you in a less-than-stellar light. Examples of negative characteristics to avoid implying include

  • Inability to function under stressful conditions

  • Dishonesty

  • Emotional dysfunction

  • No opposition to stirring up legal trouble

  • Poor impulse control

  • Propensity for interpersonal conflicts

  • Thievery

  • Tendency toward time theft (sick leave abuse, tardiness)

  • Illegal drug use

  • Disregard for rules

  • Tendency to be tense or suspicious

  • Rigidity

  • Prejudice

  • Predisposition for negative interpersonal relationships

  • Lack of self-worth

Anticipate integrity test questions

Integrity questioning may be part of a personality test or a separate test. A lie scale measures the position of a test answer on a gamut from lie to truth. The scale functions as a kind of lie detector.

But even if you’re as truthful as Honest Abe, people under pressure of testing sometimes give questionable answers. For example, if you’re asked to estimate the percentage of workers who steal from their employer, make a low guess. A high guess may be interpreted to mean you think employee theft is common, and therefore, acceptable.

Most integrity questions are fashioned for entry-level or mid-level workers who have access to merchandise or trade secrets, or for financial workers who handle money.

Things to watch out for

Many tests are combinations of several types of test questions. Even if the first 10 questions ask about your personality traits, stay alert for questions about your aptitudes (such as potential for leadership or creativity) or abilities or your integrity (such as lying). These questions may require greater concentration to answer in ways that will help you.

Watch out for absolutes like always, ever, and never. For example, saying you never took more than your share of things in your life may paint you as goody-two-shoes who can’t be trusted. Unless it’s an honesty question, answer in the middle of the range; middling answers tend to confuse hiring managers who aren’t sure what they’re looking for.

Some tests, ask virtually the same question on page one, page three, and page ten. The test is trying to catch inconsistencies — figuring you forgot a lie you told 30 questions ago. If possible, read through the test before you start. Consistency counts.

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