Don’t Stress Personality Tests

You’re trying to score your dream job. You have excellent experience, you’ve got solid references and you’ve nailed the interview. Then comes something you may not have planned for – a personality assessment. Why does it really matter to a prospective employer if you’re an extrovert or introvert, or whether you describe yourself as conscientious or agreeable?

Personality assessments – such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Five Factor Model and DISC assessment – are popular among employers today. A survey of human resource professionals by Criteria Corp, an organization that provides pre-employment testing software, found that the percentage of respondents whose firms ask job seekers to take personality tests has grown from 21 percent to 59 percent in the past five years alone. And with 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies claiming to rely on personality assessments for hiring and team building, chances are high that you’ve already taken or you’ll be asked to take one of these tests while searching for a job.

Personality tests are designed to measure traits associated with successful performance in a particular job, according to Criteria Corp. For example, if you’re applying for a salesperson position and you’re a shy introvert, you may not like or succeed at the job. Such tests can measure someone’s strengths and weaknesses, which may help in assessing whether or not they are an ideal fit for a position.

With questions that ask you, for example, whether you tend to make decisions based on reason more than feelings, job seekers may consider the tests annoying at best and a total waste of time at worst. But because there are no right or wrong answers and no way to study, the tests also can seem stressful.

So why do organizations torture job applicants with personality tests? They are one more tool used in the hiring process, one that helps employers determine whether you are a good fit for the job and the job is a good fit for you. Experts say preventing employee turnover is one of the main reasons companies require pre-employment tests. They don’t want to waste time and resources hiring and training someone who will not like the position and leave within a few months. More specifically, personality tests assist employers in evaluating how job applicants may handle relevant work-related activities, such as teamwork, following rules and handling stress.

However, most employers say personality assessments are only a partial consideration in the overall hiring decision. So don’t stress the tests. If you miss out on a job because of the results of a personality test, then it likely wasn’t a good match for you anyway. Even if you would’ve been offered the job, you may end up right back where you started – job hunting – in a few short months.