If you’ve ever been asked to take a personality test as a part of a job application process, you know the strange pressure and confusion it can call up. After all, shouldn’t our resume and interview tell our prospective employers everything they need to know about whether or not we’re right for the position? These tests make us try to figure out which qualities (and which answers) the hiring team is looking for – and they can leave us wondering if we’ve hit the mark. Here are a few things you should know about personality tests and the hiring process.
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Personality tests have been around for almost a century, but the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (which is taken by roughly 2 million people each year) has become wildly popular. It’s used by more than 10,000 companies, 2,500 colleges and universities, and about 200 government agencies in the U.S., despite its questionable reputation in the scientific community. These tests have often been used by employees in order to strengthen teams and build understanding. Now, more and more, tests like the Myers-Briggs are finding their way into the hiring process as well.
Recently, EducationDive reported that the use of personality tests is become more popular in the higher education presidential search process. Trustees (who are often rooted in the corporate world) seem to be showing more support for the use of these tests than faculty members, who more often question their value.
2. Employers use the tests to assess certain soft skills.
One of the things that makes folks anxious about these tests is that it’s hard to tell exactly what the employer is looking for. If we knew, we might answer questions accordingly. But, there are certain soft skills that employers want, and these tests are aimed at finding the individuals that possess them. Skills like communication, good decision-making, and flexibility might be more important to one company than another, but there’s no doubt everyone values them. Being able to manage time and resources well, for example, would no doubt come in handy in any job. The trick with a personality test is that they are aimed at divulging an individual’s strengths and weaknesses to a perspective employer without the job seeker’s full awareness.
It might be tempting to try to sneak through the test answering questions the way you feel your future employer would want you to, but psychologists don’t recommend it. In fact, most of these tests have certain safeguards are in place that are aimed at weeding out the candidates who are answering the questions in a way that will please the employer.
“If people try to game the system, we jokingly say the person faked their way out of a job,” says John Wiener, vice president of products and services for the testing firm PSI.
So, you should probably just be straight and answer the questions as honestly as you can. In fact, why not lead with as much honesty as possible during the interview process? Self-awareness regarding your own strengths and flaws might just impress your future employer. And, with these tests, they’ll probably find them out sooner than later anyway.
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