In times of low unemployment like we have right now, employers are desperate to find quality talent. They also can't afford to make any mistakes because choosing the wrong person is expensive. Studies show it can cost an employer as much as 130-140 percent of the employee's salary. To minimize the risk of hiring the wrong person, some companies resort to personality tests. The hope is the test will help them objectively choose the right person.

It feels like you are back in school - and that's not a good thing.

Unless you were in the top 10 percent of your class and loved school, you likely hate the idea of taking a test for a job. It's scary. You might feel you have no control over the outcome. I mean, there's no way to study or prepare, right? Wrong. Simply understanding what these tests evaluate and how to answer the questions can help you succeed.

Experience isn't enough, your personality & aptitude matter more.

To understand the need for a personality test is to first realize that experience alone is not enough to do a good job. If that was the case, hiring would be easy. The truth is, personality and aptitude matter a lot more. Employers need you to A) get along with them and your coworkers, and B) be able to adapt and do it their way, regardless of how you've done things in the past. Personality tests help hiring managers understand more about you as a professional so they can determine if you're a match. Your values, beliefs, and attitudes towards various situations help them figure out if you'll fit in and do well in the role.

You can't "game the system," but you can be intentional in your answers.

The secret to beating personality tests is to take some time to explore why they might be asking certain questions. Why does the employer want to know how you'll act in certain situations? And, how would your actions benefit or hurt the success of the company? Always remember you're a business-of-one who is selling their services to an employer. All employers want service providers who will provide the highest ROI on their investment. So, your answers should reflect values and beliefs that align with their own.

A great way to determine this is to spend some time studying the company's employment brand a/k/a what it's like to work for them. Sites like Glassdoor offer in-depth information and third-party reviews from past and current employees. They even have a review section on the interview process where other candidates have shared what the process is like. In there, you'll usually find a some reference to the personality test and what it's like.

PS - You may not always want to beat the personality test.

Please always remember personality tests don't determine if you are a good or bad professional. If you don't move forward in the hiring process, you shouldn't take it personally. Instead, be glad you aren't wasting your time on a job that likely wouldn't have been a fit. And, don't assume you can never work their either. If you really like the company, ask them how you can stay in touch in the event you are a fit for different role. Building a relationship with the employer can help you eventually get hired.

Published on: Feb 1, 2018