Personality test strategy

Although there are no right or wrong answers, there are good and bad results. For example, if a candidate applying for an investment banking position states a low preference for working with numerical data, it is unlikely the candidate will be successful in that position. Therefore, it is important that responses reflect the competency framework of the role, which may require some research into the responsibilities and key skill sets. However, honesty and constancy are important factors in personality testing, and many questionnaires have internal measures of consistency, and will highlight if a candidate is inconsistent in their responses. Therefore candidates are advised to respond honestly and consistently, with the role’s competency framework in mind.

Personality test advice

The following tips will help ensure that you gain the most from your personality questionnaire, in order to benefit yourself and the employing organisation.

1) Don’t lie: Although it may be tempting to pretend to be competent or show preference for behaviours which you do not exhibit, no one will gain from this move. Although highlighting an existing aspect of your personality is advisable if it complements the competency framework of the role, outright lying will not serve you well.

If a role calls for preferences or competencies you do not have or enjoy, why work there? If you hate working with numbers, why work in accounting? Or if you dislike working with customers, why work in customer services? Compatibility works both ways, and personality tests can help protect you from unfulfilling careers as much as they protect organisations from incompatible employees.

2) Take your time: Take advantage of the absent time limits in personality questionnaires. Although experience of aptitude tests suggests aiming for speed and accuracy, personality questionnaires will not be timed, and rushing through will serve no benefits. Take the opportunity to compose yourself and delve into deep introspection, at your most comfortable pace. That said, most people find that their instinctive response to a question is usually the most accurate.

3) Selection or development? Optimum strategy in a selection situation may be different to the optimum strategy in a development situation. If your existing employer wishes you to complete a personality questionnaire for development purposes, it calls for absolute honesty, without respect to the competency framework of the role. Personality questionnaires are frequently used for training needs analysis, and being overly lenient on yourself may lead to the organisation ignoring skills and knowledge gaps. Personality questionnaires are powerful development tools, and have great potential to identify areas for development, enabling more effective training protocols.

4) Be prepared to give evidence: Often, competency based interviews follow personality questionnaires to verify the candidate’s responses. For example, if the candidate stated high leadership ability on the questionnaire, the competency based interview may call for evidence of previous leadership experience. It is therefore an imperative that candidates have examples to back up their claims during a competency based interview, and that those claims match the assertions stated in the personality questionnaire.

5) Relax: Personality questionnaires, particularly at the later stages of recruitment, will be used in conjunction with multiple selection tools, and selection decisions will not be made solely on the personality questionnaire. Therefore do not panic if you feel your report was less than a perfect match for the role applied for; your other selection procedures will also add weight to overall selection decisions.


So, personality questionnaires are nothing to fear. They are simply a quantifiable way of describing your personality traits and preferences. If your personality is a good fit for a role you are applying to, then great. If it isn’t, the chances are that you wouldn’t have enjoyed a lasting career in that position anyway.

Now you’ve got the know-how, take a practice test to help prepare yourself for  employer tests during the application process.

AssessmentDay Ltd specialises in helping candidates prepare for their psychometric tests. For further information telephone 02071 003085 or visit their website.

About the Author

  • About Oliver Savill: Oliver Savill founded AssessmentDay, a website which uses industry-leading chartered occupational psychologists to bring you accurate practice versions of the tests used by recruiters.

Oliver Savill

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