What Is Personality Testing for Jobs?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 22, 2021 | Published February 15, 2021

Updated March 22, 2021

Published February 15, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As you go through the recruitment process, some employers may require you to take a personality test. Employers value these types of tests because they believe it provides them with an insight into your behavior and potential fit for their company. In this article, we'll discuss what personality testing for jobs is, find out why employers use it and explore several types of personality testing for jobs.

What is personality testing for jobs?

A personality test is a tool employers may use to learn about your personality traits, including your principles, morals and ideologies. The test is usually a questionnaire or series of standardized tasks. It can help measure how well you will perform at a company based on your interpersonal skills, the inspiration or motivation that drives you and possibly which position you may excel in because of your behavioral traits.

Related: Personality Type Test: Definition and Examples

Why employers use personality testing for jobs

By gaining insight into your behavior and personality, employers can gauge:

  • Whether you are a good fit for the company: Every company has a particular office culture, which is why it can be important for employers to determine if your personality suits the overall culture of the company.

  • Whether you are a good fit for the position: Sometimes an employer uses a personality test to determine if you have the right attitude for a particular type of job.

Types of personality testing for jobs

There's a wide range of personality testing available that all provide different focuses and approaches. However, employers may use the following for pre-employment personality testing:

Myers-Briggs Type Index (MBTI)

Coined by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, the MBTI is a self-report inventory that allows you and your prospective employer to further explore and understand your personality, including your weaknesses, strengths, likes, dislikes, compatibility with other people and possible career preferences.

The MBTI tests you in four areas:

  • Extraversion (E)-Introversion (I): This describes how you direct your energy either outwardly toward activities and people or inwardly toward ideas and thoughts.

  • Sensing (S)-Intuition (N): This scale involves looking at how you collect information from the world around you.

  • Thinking (T)-Feeling (F): This scale focuses on how you decide based on the information you gathered from your intuition or sensing functions.

  • Judging (J)-Perceiving (P): This involves how you deal with the outside world.

No one personality type is better than another. The MBTI's goal is to help you and your employer learn more about yourself. Based on your answers to the questions on the inventory, they identify you as having one of these 16 personality types:

  • Visionary (ENTP)

  • Inspector (ISTJ)

  • Commander (ENTJ)

  • Supervisor (ESTJ)

  • Champion (ENFP)

  • Provider (ESFJ)

  • Counselor (INFJ)

  • Nurturer (ISFJ)

  • Composer (ISFP)

  • Performer (ESFP)

  • Idealist (INFP)

  • Doer (ESTP)

  • Mastermind (INTJ)

  • Giver (ENFJ)

  • Craftsman (ISTP)

  • Thinker (INTP)

Related: Job Compatibility for the 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Types (Chart Included)

DISC personality assessment

Developed by William Moulton Marston nearly a century ago, the DISC personality assessment is a common model used by many employers to determine how you work best based on your personality type. By implementing this personality assessment, employers benefit from learning more about you while you learn more about yourself.

The DISC assessment analyzes your behavior based on the following key personality traits:

  • Dominance (D)

  • Influence (I)

  • Steadiness (S)

  • Conscientiousness (C)

In the DISC personality testing, you answer a series of questions, and they organize your answers in the DISC circular diagram in one of four personality categories. They can summarize each combination of one or two personality traits into several qualities applicable to work situations. These qualities include:

  • SI: The Collaborator

  • S: The Peacekeeper

  • DC: The Challenger

  • D: The Winner

  • DI: The Seeker

  • SC: The Technician

  • CS: The Bedrock

  • C: The Analyst

  • CD: The Perfectionist

  • ID: The Risk Taker

  • I: The Enthusiast

  • IS: The Buddy

The Caliper Profile

The Caliper Profile measures how your personality traits correlate to your job performance. They compose this assessment with a few different questions. The most common type presents you with several statements, and you have to decide which statement best matches your perspective.

However, there are also questions that require you to choose the statements that least reflect your viewpoint. You may also encounter true or false questions and multiple-choice questions to answer using its "degree of agreement" scale, which ranges from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree." The Caliper Profile differs from other personality assessment tools because it checks both negative and positive traits, thus providing employers with the full picture of a job candidate.

NEO Personality Inventory-3 (NEO-PI-3)

Developed by Robert McCrae and Paul Costa, the NEO-PI-3 is a comprehensive personality assessment test that measures the five major domains of your personality — known as the Five-Factor Model (FFM) — to assess your fit with the company. These domains include:

  • Neuroticism (N): This refers to the chronic level of emotional instability and change. High neuroticism identifies people who are vulnerable to psychological distress.

  • Extraversion (E): This refers to the intensity and quantity of your preferred interpersonal interactions, need for stimulation, activity level and capacity for joy. High extraversion identifies individuals who are affectionate, fun-loving, optimistic, person-oriented, talkative, active and sociable.

  • Openness to experience (O): This refers to your appreciation and active seeking of experiences for your own sake. High openness to experience identifies people who are imaginative, curious and willing to entertain unconventional values and novel ideas.

  • Agreeableness (A): This refers to the kinds of interactions you prefer along a continuum, from compassion to antagonism. High agreeableness identifies people who are altruistic, helpful, trusting, good-natured and soft-hearted.

  • Conscientiousness (C): This assesses control, persistence, organization and motivation in goal-directed behavior. High conscientiousness identifies people who are persevering, ambitious, scrupulous, punctual, self-directed, hardworking, reliable and organized.

Related: Big Five Personality Traits: Finding the Right Jobs for You

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ32)

The SHL OPQ32 can provide employers with a picture of how certain behaviors influence your work performance. The OPQ measures three behavioral styles: emotions, relationships with people and thinking style and feelings. Within these styles, the test assesses you across 32 dimensions of personality.

Here are the 32 characteristics as they fall within the styles of personality:

Relationships with people

This major category includes:

  • Sociability: Affiliative, outgoing, socially confident

  • Influence: Controlling, outspoken, persuasive, independent

  • Empathy: Caring, modest, democratic

Thinking style

This major category includes:

  • Structure: Detail-conscious, conscientious, forward-thinking, rule-following

  • Creating and change: Conceptual, adaptable, innovative, conventional, variety-seeking

  • Analysis: Behavioral, data rational, evaluative

Emotions and feeling

This major category includes:

  • Dynamism: Competitive, decisive, vigorous, achieving

  • Emotions: Tough-minded, worrying, trusting, relaxed, emotionally controlled, optimistic

The test has 104 questions with four statements each. You choose which statement best describes you and which statement least describes you. The OPQ32 is used to make sure its scales are suitable for the workplace and generates a custom report of scores, which describe both your weaknesses and strengths. These reports provide employers with a graphical summary of your performance, directly comparable to the other applicants you are competing against.

Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)

Originally used in a socio-analytic context, the HPI is now used to predict job performance. Experts have validated it on over 200 occupations and they have based its standards on responses from more than half a million candidates. They base the HPI on the Five-Factor Model and it comprises 206 true or false questions you have to complete in about 15-20 minutes. It tests your normal personality along the following seven scales:

  • Learning approach: This scale measures your level of enjoyment with your ambition to learn to keep up with current knowledge.

  • Inquisitive: This scale measures your aptitude for imagination, curiosity and creativity.

  • Prudence: This scale measures your levels of thoroughness, self-discipline and responsibility.

  • Interpersonal sensitivity: This scale measures your tact, likeability and relationship maintenance ability.

  • Sociability: This scale measures your need for extraversion and social interaction.

  • Ambition: This scale refers to your level of competitiveness, desire to lead and initiative.

  • Adjustment: This scale assesses your self-esteem, self-confidence and ability to work under pressure.

The HPI also predicts your work performance by evaluating the following occupational scales:

  • Managerial potential

  • Sales potential

  • Clerical potential

  • Reliability

  • Stress tolerance

  • Service orientation

The online HPI test issues an instant score report that identifies how you are likely to act in specific circumstances.

The 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF)

Developed by Eber, Tatsuoka and Cattle in 1949, the 16PF is a questionnaire based on psychologist Gordon Allport's 4,000 proposed personality traits, which Cattle narrowed down to 16 traits to design the tool.

The 16PF provides a comprehensive assessment of your personality and predicts your performance, communication and job behavior. It helps employers understand how you are likely to behave and interact with others, how well suited you are to the behavioral requirements of a position and how well you are likely to fit into an existing team.

The 16PF is for individuals age 16 and older. It takes about half an hour to complete the pencil-and-paper version or an online or computer version.

Here are the 16 traits the 16PF measures:

  • Tension

  • Perfectionism

  • Self-reliance

  • Openness to chance

  • Apprehension

  • Privateness

  • Abstractedness

  • Vigilance

  • Sensitivity

  • Social boldness

  • Rule-consciousness

  • Liveliness

  • Dominance

  • Emotional stability

  • Reasoning

  • Warmth

HEXACO Personality Inventory

Developed in the year 2000, the HEXACO model assesses theoretical interpretations and some personality dimensions outlined in earlier studies. The six personality dimensions it measures are:

  • Openness to experience

  • Conscientiousness

  • Agreeableness

  • Extraversion

  • Emotionality

  • Honesty-humility

The HEXACO model provides useful information to help employers understand your weaknesses and strengths to support a performance improvement plan. It has 100 questions for the half-length assessment or 200 questions for the full-length assessment.

Additional types of personality testing for jobs

Here are other types of personality tests that employers might use to identify the right candidates for a job:

Predictive Index (PI) behavioral assessment

The PI behavioral assessment analyzes four key aspects of your personality: formality, patience, extroversion and dominance. It also analyzes two secondary aspects: response level and decision-making. The PI behavioral assessment helps employers determine how you are likely to behave.

Situational judgment test (SJT)

This test describes how you may respond to certain workplace situations. This test includes questions related to critical working situations. The result helps employers understand how you react in such situations. The SJT test focuses on cultural sensitivity, teamwork, negotiation, problem-solving, interpersonal skills and conflict management. Today, this test is standard in predicting job performance.

Personality assessment inventory

Introduced by Leslie Morey in 1991, the personality assessment inventory evaluates your personality and psychopathology across four scales, namely clinical scales, treatment consideration scales, interpersonal scales and validity scales. The inventory comprises 344 items tested on a four-point scale: false, mainly true, slightly true and not true at all.

Values and motives inventory

This inventory determines what drives and energizes you and where you are most likely to gain satisfaction from work. The inventory assesses your extrinsic, intrinsic and interpersonal values, and summarizes the factors that motivate and demotivate you at work.

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