June 10, 2016

Personality Tests aka I just got a Job Nibble

After lots of hard work sending out applications for jobs, you finally get a positive response. The response looks like it came from a computer and it is asking you to fill out a personality test. Fantastic, all you need to do is click on the enclosed link, take a few minutes to fill out the online test, and finish the slice of pizza that you are eating. Super easy right? Wrong!  

Be super careful. Personality tests are another way to screen you out of an interview with a real person. Treat taking these tests as seriously as you did while creating your digital resume.  Why should you? Quite simply, these tests are a second verification of your digital resume. Your resume passed the first layer of job position screening. The personality test is a way to validate that you're not just a great resume writer, but you actually have the skill sets and passion that are typical for this particular job position.

The best way to pass one of these job specific tests is to really get your head around why they are asking you each question from the employer point of view. Let's use a couple of examples to explain this concept. The job is for a sales position. The personality test will be focused on sales traits. A question may show up that states, "At a party you like to___ a) meet everyone, b) meet some new people, c) hang out with your friends, d) sit by yourself". How would you answer this question? Before you answer remember the key purpose of this test, to validate your resume with the job position. Now let's dissect the question above. Clearly answer 'd' is a fail.  Selecting answer 'd' could be interpreted that you are shy. Being shy is not the best trait for a job in sales. In real life you may actually like answers 'c' and 'b'. So is the best answer between 'b' and 'c'? No, it's actually answer 'a'. Why? Remember the purpose of this test is to validate sales personality traits not what you did at your last party. Answer 'a' can be read that you are a extrovert who loves to meet and interact with people, new or old friends, clearly a win if you picked this answer. The hanging out with friends selection would score pretty low since it does not demonstrate the key personality traits of an outgoing person. Meeting some new people at a party could show some outgoing behaviors but not as strong as answer 'a'.

Let's do one more question to drive the point home on what these tests are really asking you. This is a seemingly trivial question but beware. Here goes, "How would you rank yourself___ a) above average, b) average, c) below average".  Before you answer this question you should be thinking to yourself what are they asking me. Are they asking about my GPA? Are they asking about my class rank? Are they asking about my job experiences? Notice, the question did not ask for any specific criteria, it only asks how would your rank yourself. If you graduated with a 3.0 GPA you might select 'average' but this is not a question of rank or grades, it is a confidence question! Remember, think from the employer point of view. The employer does not want to hire average people. They want Above Average hires. Never, Never, Never, answer a question about yourself on a job personality test by selecting Average as the answer.

The best advice I can hand to you on this topic is to read each question twice and think through what are they asking, why are they asking it, and what answer would benefit the employer the most. Finally remember that passing usually will only get you to the next step in the hiring process, the INTERVIEW.  Entire books have been written on how to pass the interview, but to get an interview many times you need to first pass the personality test. Hopefully these tips may get you to that next step.

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