What You Should Know About Personality Tests

Personality testing is a serious assessment tool in the employment world that helps decide who gets hired and who gets promoted. Employment personality tests measure choice, preference, values, behavior, decisions, attitudes, and job-related interests.

Asking questions before the test

Although you can’t blow off a request to sit for an employment test and get hired, you can ask a few questions to spread a small safety net under your candidacy. Try these feelers:

  • I sometimes get nervous and uptight about tests. Can I take the test again if I don’t do too well today, or is this take final?

  • What kind of test(s) are you asking me to take? Personality, integrity, performance . . . ? What is the title of the test?

  • Can I get any feedback regarding test results? How about areas I didn’t do well in . . . at least I’ll know what areas need improvement.

  • Will I still be considered for the job if I don’t do well on the test?

If the interviewer is dismissive, at least you know the kind of company you’re dealing with — if you think they’re tough now, wait until you’re hired and the honeymoon is over.

Finding out what a test measures

If you can discover the title of the personality test that you’ll be taking, you may be able to identify the traits measured by the test. Look for test reviews published by the Buros Institute of Mental Measurements at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a gateway for serious and validated testing information.

Be sure to read the FAQs on the Buros Web site to learn about

  • Locating tests in Buros’s Mental Measurements Yearbook, a regularly updated reference containing test reviews; it is available to read free in many large public and university libraries.

  • Accessing Tests in Print, a bibliography of commercially available tests in the English language.

  • Using Test Reviews Online, a service that provides access to the same test reviews that appear in the Mental Measurements Yearbook series; each test can be downloaded for a modest fee.

Who’s most likely to use tests

High-level executives in any industry rarely are asked to undergo a personality test, with or without an integrity component. Government agencies typically use their own tests and assessments.

Non-manufacturing businesses tend to use personality tests more than do manufacturing industries. Examples of non-manufacturing businesses include retailers, banks, utilities, insurance companies, staffing agencies, and communications corporations. Integrity tests are prevalent in jobs involving money, public safety, or merchandise, especially in entry-level positions.

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