Many job candidates are caught off guard when they’re asked to take a personality test for employment purposes. While this isn’t standard practice for most companies, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 71% of HR professionals believe personality tests can be useful for hiring. Understanding why these tests are used – and what their limitations are – can help ease your mind so you can focus on excelling at all aspects of the hiring process.

Potential Benefits of a Personality Test
With every candidate (hopefully) putting his best foot forward when creating resumes and completing interviews, some hiring managers turn to additional evaluation tools to get the most accurate picture of a candidate’s potential.

Personality tests can give employers deeper insight into how you’ll fit in with the company culture and how you might handle tasks and duties that are specific to a certain department or role. These evaluations may also reveal how well you’ll work with current members of a team.

Understand the Testing Limitations
I’ve matched numerous companies with the right employees over the years, and I know first-hand that there are hundreds of different qualities that combine to make someone a great candidate. Even an extremely sophisticated test can’t measure all the characteristics a hiring manager would find significant – like your off-the charts passion for your industry, for example.

One potential candidate I worked with scored poorly on a specific section of a personality test and had the opportunity to discuss that weakness in a subsequent interview. Ideally, the results from a personality test should be just one part of a more complete set of variables that gauges whether you’re qualified for a position.

Being Comfortable with Testing
If you’re prone to testing anxiety, rest assured that there aren’t any hard and fast correct answers in a personality test for employment. Of course, a hiring manager may have several ideal personality types in mind, but guessing which answers are most desirable is likely an exercise in futility. Trying to manipulate your results can create a conflicting outcome and it may even have negative long-term consequences if your hiring manager tries to adjust your tasks and environment to suit your perceived personality.

The best approach is to answer as honestly as possible and avoid overthinking each response. Another key to success is to treat these tests just as seriously as you would any aptitude exam. If you’re taking the test off-site, set aside sufficient time and choose a location that allows you to focus and provide the most accurate answers.

If you’re still feeling uneasy about the testing process, you can always ask the hiring manager questions about how the test will be used, why the company believes it’s important to their decision process, confidentiality issues and any other concerns you may have.

Have you ever taken personality tests for hiring purposes? What was your experience?

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