Get an “A” for personality.

You've carefully crafted the perfect resume. Now what? It may be tempting during the job search to sit back, relax, and wait for that anticipated phone call inviting you for an interview, but really, sitting and waiting never helped anyone. It's time to take an active role in preparing for your future. Let's face the facts: With each passing year, it becomes harder and harder to get a job — companies are inundated with thousands of candidates for one open position. In response to the overwhelming increase in potential candidates, employers have added an extra step in the recruitment process: pre-employment personality testing.

According to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), one-third of HR professionals are using personality assessment tests and pre-employment testing during the hiring and interview process for executive roles.

So, what is a pre-employment personality test? 

Good question. A personality test is an assessment used by employers to help find a candidate whose character traits are best suited and a good fit for a specific position. A pre-employment assessment test is designed to reveal particular aspects of a candidate's personality and estimate the likelihood that they will excel in such a position.

Why has pre-employment testing become so popular? 

Research shows that if an employee is placed in a position that doesn't match their personality traits, it often leads to lower engagement. Low employee engagement results in 21 percent lower productivity and about 45 percent higher turnover, and replacing employees is expensive.

Just think of the time and money put towards interviewing a new hire, processing them in the system, training them, and then having to repeat it all for each candidate. In today's metric-based work culture, employers and hiring managers are searching for a recruitment tool with a predictive index that gives them quantifiable measures on which to base decisions. Pre-employment job personality tests are now delivered online, where they are processed instantaneously. Test results are then verified and normed against thousands of other candidates, speeding up the hiring process and ensuring that the candidates who move forward are compatible with the company.

Now that you know how popular these career personality assessments are becoming and why, how about how to handle them? Here are some common versions of these tests and some tips on how to crack them:

1. The Caliper Profile

The Caliper Profile measures how an individual's personality traits correlate to their job performance. The test is made up of a few different types of sample questions. The most common type presents you with a series of statements, and your task is to decide which statement best aligns with your viewpoint and character traits.

Conversely, there are also questions that require you to identify the statements that least reflect your point of view. You may also encounter true/false questions and multiple-choice questions to answer using a “degree of agreement” scale, ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” The Caliper Profile differs from other personality tests in that it examines both positive and negative qualities, thus providing the full picture of a candidate.

Insider Tip: An employer can create a customized selection tool that will allow them to customize the assessment to target critical behaviors. This will help them receive data on job-fit matches or information about a candidate's potential success in a specific role.

2. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

One of the most well-known tools for mapping employee personalities is the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). According to CPI, the test's publisher, 89 of the Fortune 100 companies use the MBTI before hiring a new employee.

The MBTI identifies if an employee's personality leans toward one of two tendencies in the following groupings: “Extraversion vs. Introversion,” “Intuition vs. Sensing,” “Thinking vs. Feeling,” and “Judging vs. Perceiving.” As a result, an individual can fall into one of 16 personality types. The Myers-Brigg Type Indicator is often used by employers to decide if a candidate would be a good cultural fit for a company and if they could subsequently transition into working with the team nicely. The MBTI is comprised of 93 questions. When answering each question, you are given two choices of statements — either A or B — which determines which tendencies you lean toward.

Insider Tip: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is not a normalized exam, nor are the questions scaled. This is one of the most difficult pre-employment personality tests to prepare for, primarily because it has not been proven valid for recruitment use. In fact, CPI put out a statement asserting that it is not considered ethical to use the MBTI for hiring or deciding job assignments. The test is more appropriate for understanding how a person may work in a group, but not for determining if a candidate is well-suited for a certain position. Another downside is that your score cannot be easily compared to a different candidate applying for the same position.

3. The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire, or OPQ32, is designed to give companies a picture of how certain behaviors influence a candidate's work performance. The test is made up of 104 questions that measure 32 different characteristics. Candidates and potential employees are evaluated in three main domains: “Relationship with People,” “Thinking Style and Feelings,” and “Emotions.” On the test, candidates are presented with four statements and they must choose which statement best describes them and which statement least describes them. The OPQ32 was specifically developed to guarantee that its scales are relevant and suitable for the workplace.

Insider Tip: The OPQ32 provides a company and employer with a custom report of normed scores, describing both strengths and weaknesses in detail. These reports provide an easy-to-read graphical summary of performance, directly comparable to the other test takers you are competing against.

4. The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)

The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) was developed in the 1980s and was originally used in a socio-analytic context, but it's now used to predict job performance. It has been normed on more than 500,000 candidates worldwide and validated on more than 200 occupations, proving that it is a consistent and reliable tool used to evaluate an individual's temperament and how it matches the demands of a given role. The HPI is based on the Five-Factor Model. It consists of 206 true/false questions that must be completed in around 15 to 20 minutes. The HPI evaluates seven primary scales and six occupational scales (“Service Orientation,” “Stress Tolerance,” “Reliability,” “Clerical Potential,” “Sales Potential” and “Managerial Potential”) in addition to possessing 42 subscales. It is administered online with an instantaneous score report.

Insider Tip: The score report from this assessment identifies how a candidate is likely to act in specific circumstances. It also evaluates your interview style and classifies candidates according to fit.

5. The DiSC Behavior Inventory

The DiSC Behavior Inventory (DiSC) measures a candidate's primary traits based on four personality types. This four-style behavior model is the oldest style of personality test; it has been around since the time of Hippocrates, around 400 B.C. The DiSC personality profile comes in many versions, each of which includes a variation of the four basic DiSC factors: “Dominant (D),” “Influential (I),” “Steady (S),” and “Compliant (C).” Companies use the DiSC as a tool to help understand an employee's professional behavior style and their ability to work as part of a team. The DiSC is an extremely user-friendly test, and it is significantly shorter than other tests, ranging from 12 to 30 questions. Candidates are provided with adjectives or phrases and asked to choose which they feel applies to them the most and the least.

Insider Tip: Even though the DiSC is a popular career personality test used by many companies, the DiSC is considered a temperament assessment, not a pre-employment assessment. It is an ipsative test, meaning scores are not normalized against other candidates. The results of the test only show the relative strengths of a single candidate, which means employers cannot directly compare the scores of two potential candidates. The DiSC is also not considered a valid predictor of job success.

What do these job personality tests mean for me as a candidate?

Whether it's due to convenience or general acceptance by employers, no matter how you cut it, pre-employment testing is here to stay. A recent study from the University of South Carolina found that the top reason executives fail in both internal and external hires is behavioral compatibility, so it is clear that the use of personality testing is beneficial for employers.

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