How to Excel in Pre-Employment Psychological and Personality Tests

What Are Pre-Employment Psychological Tests?

We’ve all taken an assessment prior to a potential employment opportunity. Some hiring organizations offer aptitude tests, while others may use psychological tests. To maximize success, it’s best for organizations to be involved in a holistic combination of both. We’ll discuss the pre-employment psychological and personality tests conducted by organizations to assess person-role and person-organization suitability.

These are generally known as pre-employment psychological tests. A pre-employment psychological test is a general test carried out to understand the person’s personality being offered employment.  This may come with other tests such as aptitude tests or cognitive assessments. They may also be conducted alone as a pre-screening to see if the candidate is truly suitable for the job being offered. 

Are Pre-Employment Psychological Tests Mandatory?

Employers include a general pre-employment test at some hiring organizations. According to the Harvard Business Review, 76% of organizations with more than 100 employees use pre-employment tests for external recruitment. Are these tests mandatory, though? It depends on the seniority, complexity, and ultimately nature of a professional role being filled. 

Some agencies ask for mandatory pre-employment psychological tests depending on the geographical location and requirement of the job. Some law enforcement agencies ask for pre-employment psychological tests to ensure critical factors such as credibility, reliability, honesty, and integrity. 

In short, pre-employment tests are not mandatory—however, they provide a wealth of information about a potential candidate’s culture and skills fit for a role within an organization.

What Types of Pre-Employment Psychological and Personality Tests Are There?

There are thousands of tests that are used by organizations for pre-employment psychological testing. Some popular tests include:

  • Myers-Briggs Personality Test (MBTI®)
  • Korn Ferry Assessment of Leadership Potential (KFALP)
  • Hogan Personality Inventory Test (HPI)
  • Predictive Index (PI) Behavioral Assessment
  • Caliper Assessment / Profile
  • MMPI test (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory)
  • Gallup’s StrengthsFinder® Personality Test
  • SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ)
  • Development Dimensions International (DDI) Leadership Assessment

What is the Purpose of Pre-Employment Psychological Tests?

Pre-employment personality psychological tests are designed to extract the various dimensions of one’s personality. Heneman et al., (2000) defined these dimensions as the Big Five, also known as the Five Factor Model (FFM). These are:

  • Extraversion (Factor I)
  • Agreeableness (Factor II)
  • Conscientiousness (Factor III)
  • Emotional Stability (vs. Neuroticism, Factor IV)
  • Openness to Experience (Factor V)

These tests generally test your social skills, emotional quotient (EQ), cognitive ability, and organizational skills. Most of the valid pre-employment tests typically measure and help hiring organizations to assess these five along with three critical elements required for any job: competence, work ethic, and emotional intelligence. Other tests, such as the DISC® assessment, helps identify different communication styles.

Training a wrong hire (through skills, culture fit, or character) can have an adverse effect on organizations. Layoffs and turnovers turn the human resources team back to the drawing board to repeat the hiring process, which is costly in itself. Pre-employment tests can mitigate this issue through repeated, controlled interview questions and employee retainment and satisfaction analyses.

How Can You Excel in Pre-Employment Psychological Tests? 

To excel in pre-employment tests, your best bet is to answer honestly. These tests are carefully designed for person-role fit. Learn expected parameters such as Impartiality, leadership, teamwork skills, creativity, interpersonal skills, extraversion, and creativity, employee engagement, mental fitness, problem solving, work experience, and interests to predict success on the job.

Another dimension that can be tested as to whether the person scores higher or lower on the scales of extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to new experiences, optimism, agreeableness, service orientation, stress tolerance, emotional stability, and proactivity. Many tests incorporate a variety of factors into their scoring system to gauge a more well-rounded view of an individual. 

There are multiple ways to excel in pre-employment psychological tests. To start, learn about your job responsibility and needed skills for the job. Each job requires a specific set of hard and soft skills. Research the job requirements and required skills, and then narrow down the personality traits most suitable towards the job you plan on applying for.

Be in the right frame of mind on the day of the test. Keep in mind that anxiety may impact your responses and hinder the reflection of your real personality. Imagine how you’d answer on a neutral day—whether your mood is high or low—remain calm and consistent. This will allow your answers to better reflect your genuine personality and aptitudes. 

Practice the above-mentioned skills and be consistent in your responses. Most of the pre-employment personality tests ask questions several times to guard against deception and get a sense of your true preferences. Inconsistent answers will raise red flags in the embedded lie detectors of pre-employment tests, so answer honestly.

Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes [alone] can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture.

– Howard Schulz, American Businessman & Author

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