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Predictive Index Test: What It Is and How to Prepare

December 12, 2019

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Throughout your professional career, you may be asked to take certain assessments that can determine your potential value to a future employer. A Predictive Index (PI) Test allows recruiters to evaluate the cognitive abilities and personality traits of a potential employee. While listing a four-year degree on your resume is helpful for employers, a PI test is an opportunity for candidates to show what they’ve learned as it pertains to the role they’re hiring for. It can also allow recruiters to identify your behavioral tendencies to determine if you’d fit with the company’s culture. In this article, we outline what a Predictive Index Test is and how to best prepare for it.

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What is a Predictive Index Test?

At its core, a PI Test is a personality test given by employers to determine a candidate’s potential fit at their company. Employers use two main types of Predictive Index Tests to screen potential new hires: the Predictive Index Cognitive Assessment (PICA) and the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment (PIBA). Rather than testing individual skills, these tests measure your abstract intelligence or personality characteristics such as dominance, extraversion, patience and formality. They are used by thousands of corporations throughout the world to predict the likelihood that a candidate will be a good fit for the job.

Predictive Index Cognitive Assessment

The PICA objectively tests a candidate’s cognitive ability and abstract intelligence. Because your cognitive ability is indicative of your future performance as an employee, taking this assessment helps you and your potential employer understand if you’d be a good fit for the role. The PICA aims to eliminate unconscious bias in the hiring process by gauging your ability to learn new skills and how quickly you can adapt to changing conditions in the workplace. It tests verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning. Test takers are given 50 questions and are required to answer as many as possible in the provided time allotment. 

Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment

The PIBA tests your cultural fit in the workplace by discovering your personal motivations and needs. It helps employers select employees with the personality traits that will help them succeed in their position and the workplace environment. Candidates are given two lists of adjectives in the PIBA. One list is used for words others would use to describe them and how they are likely to behave, while the other is used for expressing their own opinion about themselves. 

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How to pass a Predictive Index Test

A Predictive Index Test does not have a pass or fail grading measurement. Providing honest answers will be beneficial for both you and the employer. Not only does it help employers evaluate a candidate’s fit for the job, but it also helps candidates get hired for jobs that are a good fit for them. Since the PICA is a free-choice assessment, meaning that you can select as many or as few descriptors as you’d like, its methodology guarantees that test-takers are providing more accurate answers than other types of personality assessment tests. Although you can ask the employer questions or research the company beforehand to understand its culture and values, your perception of what is expected may differ from what the hiring manager is looking for.

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How to prepare for a Predictive Index Test

Just like preparing for various tests will depend on the test itself, there are several methods you can deploy to ensure you perform your best for the Predictive Index Test. Remind yourself that these tests are intended to assess your strengths and weaknesses, not your achievements. 

Predictive Index Cognitive Assessment preparation

Since the PICA tests your ability to solve a variety of problems, it is possible to prepare in advance to get a higher score—within reason. Keep in mind that it is not just a tool for employers to screen candidates, but also a tool for candidates to find jobs at which they will excel. Regardless, it’s a great way to receive an accurate measurement of your abilities. Here are the steps to consider when preparing for the PICA:

1. Understand the types of questions

Here are the nine types of questions you will see on the PICA:

  • Numerical: 
    • Series
    • Lowest value
    • Number problems
  • Verbal: 
    • Antonyms
    • Analogies
    • Analysis
  • Abstract: 
    • Series
    • Analogies
    • Odd one out

2. Take practice tests

Knowing what to expect is an important part of test preparation. Given that the PICA has 50 questions that must be completed in 12 minutes, you should aim to practice answering 50 questions in 12 minutes. While you won’t be required to complete all 50, your goal should be to answer honestly. In can be beneficial to glance at all of the questions beforehand in order to discern which you have the best chance of solving. Start with those and gradually progress to the more challenging questions. For example, if you are better at verbal skills than numerical, answer the verbal first. 

Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment preparation

The PIBA is straightforward and takes 10 minutes to complete. Because this test relies on honesty and personal insight, preparation for this test will look differently. Here are some general steps to take in preparing for the PIBA:

1. View sample questions

Viewing sample questions will give you an idea of what to expect for the real test and might help alleviate nerves. Practicing your answers may also boost your confidence come test day.

2. Consider what the test measures

It’s important to remember that this test measures your personality traits. Consider the four categories in which these traits will be assessed. These include:

  • Dominance: This pertains to your drive to control the situations, events or the people that surround you. People who score high in dominance tend to succeed in leadership roles and are independent, self-confident and assertive. They are comfortable with challenges and dealing with conflict. Those who score low in dominance are more likely to cooperate with team members, collaborate and help others. 

  • Extraversion: This refers to the drive to interact socially with other people. Those who score high in extraversion tend to engage with other people easily, are influencers and enjoy public recognition. People with lower extraversion drives (also called introverts) tend to be less trusting of others, prefer to work with facts or creative endeavors and value privacy and alone time.

  • Patience: This relates to your drive to cultivate a stable, consistent environment. People with high patience drives tend to work at a steady pace, avoid changing situations and are good at forging long-term relationships, both in business and social settings. A low-patience drive suggests the need for variety in the workplace. These people tend to work at a faster pace for shorter amounts of time.

  • Formality: This refers to the drive to conform to a set of rules and established structure. Those who score high in formality enjoy having clear, organized expectations and tend to be detail-oriented and disciplined. People with lower formality scores value spontaneity and informality and need a degree of freedom from strict rules and controls. 

Scoring high or low in a given area is not indicative of poor or excellent performance. Employers are looking for certain qualities in an employee and it’s up to them to discern whether or not a candidate is a good fit for their company.

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General test preparation tips

Here are a few tips that will help you succeed in any type of screening test:

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before the test.
  • Do not take the test when you are hungry or ill.
  • Keep your eye on the clock and budget your time.
  • If you’re taking the test at home, make sure to allow sufficient time to complete the test without interruptions or distractions.
  • Make sure you’re taking the test in your native language. 

Though PI tests are offered in 70 different languages, it’s in your best interest to take the test in your native language even if you will not be using that language while working at the company. This will give you a better chance of understanding every question, which can involve subtle nuances that change the meaning of certain phrases.

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What to expect after the test

After you complete your PI test, there are various instances that might occur. Here’s a general idea of what you might encounter:

  • You might be asked to do another job interview. This usually means that the hiring manager has decided your score aligns with what they’re looking for in a new hire. 

  • Reflect on your answers. Consider the answers you gave on the test as compared to the traits you think a successful candidate for that position should have. Should you receive another interview, you can then begin to prepare sample interview questions. For example, if you believe you scored high in dominance, you can stress your leadership experience and ability to solve problems. If you believe you scored low in dominance, you can discuss how you contributed to a group project.

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The reliability of Predictive Index Tests

It’s important to note that PI tests are used by thousands of companies all over the world, and to date, over 18 million job candidates have taken them. These highly-accurate tests were designed to comply with the standards of the American Psychological Association, as well as other test commissions. Despite this, the tests’ success relies on a human resources department’s ability to determine which qualities are best suited for the roles they are filling. PI tests are only one part of a larger screening process for job candidates.

As a job seeker, it’s important to understand what PI tests are and how to prepare for them. Knowing what to expect will help you properly prepare for them and with luck, gain employment.

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