Given time, application and practice, you
can beat most personality tests. But before you do, ask yourself: is
that really what you want? Employment is a two-way street; a good employer
is looking for the right employee for the candidate's benefit as well
as its own. Lever yourself into the wrong job and the result is likely
to be pretty miserable.
So use the advice you'll find on this site wisely. By all means try
to give the best impression you can, but don't try to give a false impression
of your real character. If you take a trial test, look carefully at
what it tells you and ask yourself what elements of your personality
you could work on. Improve yourself in those areas and you could change
your life. How
to Pass Tests
It's important to use the right type of test,
according to the selection criteria that apply to your circumstances.
Each reveals different aspects of the subject, either as an absolute
score or as a quotient that compares the subject's performance against
those who have previously undertaken the test.
type has its own advantages and shortcomings. Almost all are subject to the "snapshot
effect" - they show the subject's performance at that particular moment.
Stress caused by interview nerves, motivation to prove a point, or even just an
"off" day can all distort the results. This means that skill in interpretation
is at least as important as the sophistication of the test itself.
The types of test shown below aren't an exhaustive list. They're intended
to give a view of the principal approaches in common use.
This is probably the most widely recognised
form of psychometric testing. It's designed to reveal the psychological make-up
of the subject, often revealing elements of character that are commonly hidden.
Personality measurement often asks the subject to express opinions or make
statements about his or her attitudes. These may be presented in the form of multiple-choice
statements, one of which the subject must choose, even if he or she feels that
neither applies. A typical example of this approach might be:
I am easily
I tire easily
This presents an immediate problem:
both statements are negative, but which is more damaging? By deciding which to
apply to myself I reveal something of my priorities and anxieties about my own
make-up. Later in the test I might find one or more of these choices repeated,
but contrasted against a different attribute. This makes it more difficult to
skew results by giving what I believe to be the "right" answer. Some
systems offer more optional answers - often up to four choices. Opinions differ
on which approach is more effective. Your choice should be based on your assessment
of the provider's ability to provide cogent, easily-interpreted results.
The results from this type of test usually produce multiple scores, each for a
different personality aspect. While personality metrics can provide exceptional
detail and accuracy, they require considerable skill and judgment, both to produce
the metrics themselves, and to understand what those metrics are telling us.
establishing someone's interests and drivers, a tester is usually not drilling
so deeply into the subject's psyche. The aim here is to understand themes and
directions in the subject's career path and life decisions. As a result, motivational
testing is a useful tool for a career advisor who's looking to provide advice
on future career direction.
The subject's CV may provide considerable
insight towards his or her aims, but it can also be surprisingly misleading. People
often take a job for the wrong reasons, and then rationalise the choice by trying
to invent a career theme that may be entirely specious.
To combat this,
the tester will often use a career interest or motivation questionnaire. This
will endeavour to reveal the true themes, areas and targets by exploring what
a subject finds most rewarding or worrying about a situation.
type of test is usually easier to "throw" than a full personality test.
But before doing so you should ask yourself whether you have more to gain by answering
truthfully. Doing so can often reveal ideal career paths that you might not previously
form of testing has become increasingly popular in recent years. It generally
provides consistent, meaningful results that are relatively easy to interpret
and understand. A 360
Appraisal assessment programme involves electing a committee of colleagues
to provide feedback on the subject. This will usually consist of people at various
levels: a manager's assessment group could be made up of staff who report to him,
peers at a similar management level, and the senior management to whom he reports.
Each respondent is given a multiple choice questionnaire on which they anonymously
rate the subject's performance in various situations. The subject is also asked
to rate his or her performance in the same areas.
On completion, the
responses are mapped to give a detailed picture of the areas that require improvement.
The technique appears intrusive at first sight, but when applied simultaneously
across several people it is usually accepted with enthusiasm, especially if the
results are used positively to everyone's advantage.
Whom should we regard as the inventor of
It's probably an unanswerable question. Certainly much of
the theory behind it comes from the thoughts and writings of ground-breaking psychologists
such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Of these, the latter has arguably more validity
in modern psychometrics. Jung was a free thinker, preferring to categorize people
less rigidly than Freud. He believed more in individuality, and the ability of
the human mind to change, adapt and evolve.
This is a crucial consideration;
we are all products of our environment. While separating our attitudes and motivations
from our education and social privileges might be a useful equaliser, it has less
relevance when we apply it to an employment situation. An employer engages the
total person, who will act according to his or her upbringing and education, overlaid
on top of his or her core psychological structure.
Jung didn't have the
advantage of computer analysis to help his observations. He understood the complexity
of the human mind, and endeavoured to make it measurable by identifying a small
range of identifying components.
These he divided into categories as follows:
Attitudes: Extroversion or introversion
Rational preferences: Thinking
Irrational preferences: Sense or intuition
of his theory states that we each make decisions biased towards one or the other
of these mutually exclusive poles. Do we interpret the world based on our senses
or our intuition? Do we make decisions based on rational thought or "gut-feeling"?
In theory it should be possible to map a person's personality based on these criteria.
But Jung observed that this view was too simplistic; it ignored our ability
to adjust our behaviour according to circumstances and experience. Put a marginally
introverted person in a group of more introverted people and we'll see apparently
extrovert behaviour. An intuitive person who's made a series of poor judgment
may learn to become more rational.
The interview is an exceptionally
false situation. Everyone acts to some extent out of their normal character -
including the interviewer. Here we see Jung's observations on adaptability in
action. Each person involved is modifying his or her base behaviour to suit an
unusual set of circumstances. Once the unusual circumstances are removed, he or
she will revert to a more normal behavioural pattern.
endeavours to peel away as much as possible of this circumstantial overlay. We
want to know the natural behaviour patterns of the person underneath. There's
no right or wrong, no superhuman or poor performing profile. But there can be
certain drivers that are important - positively or negatively - in a particular
job. If a candidate needs security and reassurance, he or she may well be able
to operate in a high-risk business environment, but at what personal cost?
we've already stated, Jung didn't have access to computers. This made analysis
highly subjective, a shortcoming that he tried - with commendable success - to
avoid by creating his measurement system. Now that unlimited processing power
is widely available, the computer is an obvious tool to remove that subjectivity.
But computers aren't human. They may be superhuman in their ability to process
information, but they have no insight or understanding. They're morons with a
fast brain and a great memory.
As a result, most analysis systems don't make any attempt to obviate
the human factor. The computer is used to classify the response data
and organise it in a format that's easy for a human expert to interpret.
It is therefore an important and useful
tool in choosing the right person for a given circumstance. We can use
it to estimate how a candidate will react under pressure, as well as
their normal behaviour in everyday work. It may even give pointers to
a person's basic honesty.
But all of this power carries
the strongest possible caveat. Psychometric testing is not a panacea. It should
never be used for more than a relatively small part of the selection process.
Around 25% of the decision can safely be based on the results of the testing;
the remainder should come from the interview and personal assessments of the candidate.
The importance of expertise in the person or process that interprets the
results can't be over-stated. Before choosing a provider you should satisfy yourself
fully that you are being presented with properly interpreted results - and that
you understand fully how to process the results you receive. A good provider will
usually assist you in this last and vital element of the exercise.
far we've looked most at psychometric testing as a tool in recruitment. But concentrating
on this area ignores another powerful application; the development of key personnel.
If psychometric analysis gives us detailed information about strangers
at an interview, it can give even more compelling data on people we
already know. By understanding the psychological make-up of our key
business people we can do much to make them more comfortable and productive,
reducing staff turnover and increasing their effectiveness.
Anyone considering a programme of staff development should
look at psychometrics as a method of matching development activities to the specific
needs of the people to be developed.
It will also help you to decide what career
or type of job is best for you.
Just a few test questions that may change your life.
How to Pass a Psychometric Test