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Guide to Pre-Employment Personality Tests: An Essential Tool for New Hiring

Pre-Employment Personality

Productivity, reputation, staff morale, and a whole lot of money—this is what onboarding a bad employee can cost an organization. 

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once reckoned that his company had lost “well over $100 million” due to hiring miscues. Also, a survey conducted by CareerBuilder in 2017 estimated that companies lost an average of nearly $15,000 per bad hire. 

But the good news is that a pre-employment personality test can go a long way towards ensuring that your company avoids all this trouble. 

While assessing technical skills is essential, it simply isn’t enough to decide if a job candidate will thrive in your company and have a fruitful, long-lasting relationship with it. You also have to find out if they would make an excellent cultural fit.

Now you’ve landed at the right place to know this. That’s because in this blog post, you’ll find out— 

  • why you should conduct employment personality tests 
  • which popular pre-employment personality testing methods give the best results 
  • how you can create custom personality assessment tests

But first, let’s start from scratch and understand exactly what a pre-employment personality test is.

What is a Pre-Employment Personality Test?

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Pre-employment personality tests are assessment quizzes designed to check various personality traits of job applicants. 

These tests aim to find out if a candidate would be able to smoothly adapt to a company’s work culture and if they have the right temperament for the position. 

Some of the personality traits measured by pre-employment assessments & tests include:

Aside from personality traits, the questions in these tests may also target the applicant’s interaction style and personal preferences

The best personality tests for hiring employees target behavioral characteristics that remain somewhat unchanged throughout a person’s lifetime. For instance, a person’s level of extroversion is much more likely to remain the same as opposed to their current level of anger. 

The results of these questionnaire-style tests generally assign separate scores to each trait that they measure and may also include comments on the suitability of the candidate.      

Why Use a Pre-Employment Personality Test?

Personality testing job candidates offers a number of benefits, all of which contribute towards ensuring optimal productivity and preventing financial loss. 

Here are three key improvements you can expect in your organization by incorporating personality assessments in the hiring process. 

Improved Understanding of Job Candidates

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Job personality assessment tests let you have a more comprehensive analysis of a candidate’s behavioral tendencies, motivations, and stressors as compared to only having face-to-face interviews with them. This is especially true for remote hirings which have the F2F round over a video call.

You can even use pre-employment personality assessments as a way to gain insights that can help interviewers ask better and more personalized questions.    

Better Communication Between Employees & Employer

Pre-employment personality tests are also excellent for finding out a candidate’s preferred communication style—whether it is more formal or casual. Armed with this knowledge, the employer can have much more positive and effective interactions with them if they end up getting hired. According to Forbes, this approach is particularly helpful in the case of remote onboarding

Using personality tests as a communication enhancement tool can also improve the chances of excellent candidates choosing your company over others.

By talking with a candidate in a manner that rings right with them, the interviewer can make them feel comfortable about the company and better inclined to accept the job offer.  

Turnover Reduction

An employee who isn’t aligned with your company’s culture and/or their role is bound to grow unhappy and become less productive. 

While a big cause for concern in itself, this situation can also quickly progress into a full-blown burnout.

The result?

The employee leaves the organization way before they have adequately contributed to it. 

As seen from the Zappos example, the cost of employee turnover can be astronomical and definitely warrants serious attention. You can bring down the risk of your organization facing a high turnover by conducting personality tests for employment screening and making more informed hiring decisions.

Top 10 Employment Personality Tests 

Now that you’ve understood the importance of pre-employment personality tests, let’s look at some of the most popular and insightful personality tests used for hiring. After reading this, you’ll learn everything about such tests including what employers look for in personality tests. 

1.The Caliper Profile 

One of the most thorough employment personality assessments, the Caliper Profile consists of 180 questions and measures 22 key personality traits, which are classified into four categories, namely:

  • Leadership
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving/decision-making
  • Personal organization/time management

Most of the questions in this test present the candidate with four statements, out of which they have to select the one that best represents their view on an issue.

Apart from these multiple-choice questions, there are also some true/false and scaled (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree) questions.

The test is untimed, and it takes most people around 2-3 hours to complete it. Caliper is especially suited for hiring top and middle-level employees.

The Caliper Profile Breakdown

  • Number of questions: 180
  • Time taken to complete: 2-3 hours
  • Number of traits tested: 22
  • Question format: Multiple-choice, true/false, and 5-point agreement scale

2. DISC

DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance) consists of 28 questions and classifies the test-taker into 12 personality categories based on their responses. 

Each question in this pre-employment personality test presents the candidate with a statement where they have to choose how strongly they agree or disagree with it.

Aside from the personality types, the DISC assessment also uncovers the candidate’s workplace priorities, motivators, preferences and stressors.

While one of the shorter personality assessments for pre-employment testing, DISC is particularly useful in determining if a candidate will be able to thrive in a collaboration-based environment. It also works great as a tool for improving teamwork and communication and facilitating better, more-personalized leadership. 

DISC Assessment Breakdown

  • Number of questions: 28
  • Time taken to complete: 15-20 minutes
  • Number of traits tested: 4
  • Question format: 5-point agreement scale

3. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test is based on a theory proposed by the legendry psychiatrist Carl Jung and measures four personality traits

  • Introversion or extraversion
  • Sensing or intuition
  • Thinking or feeling
  • Judging or perceiving

The results of this pre-employment personality test classify test-takers into one of 16 different personality types based on the above four categorizations. One of the longer personality assessments, MBTI is comprised of 93 dual-choice questions. 

This test is highly beneficial for managers who wish to understand how they can better support new team members. 

MBTI Breakdown

  • Number of questions: 93
  • Time taken to complete: 20-30 minutes
  • Number of traits tested: 4
  • Question format: Dual-choice

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Try the MBTI Quiz

4. Big Five

Unlike some of the other pre-employment assessments & tests in this list, the Big Five or Five-Factor Model doesn’t assign a personality type to the test taker. Instead, it only measures five main personality traitsopenness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

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This personality test takes only around 10-15 minutes to complete but is still comprehensive enough to be a highly useful tool for recruitment. With its simplicity and brevity, this test is a great choice if you wish to have a shorter interview process, with a personality test that doesn’t feel intrusive.

Big Five Assessment Breakdown

  • Number of questions: There is no official version of this test, so the number of questions can vary but is usually around 50-60.
  • Time taken to complete: 10-15 minutes
  • Number of traits tested: 5
  • Question format: 5-point agreement scale

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Try out the Big Five Assessment

5. Predictive Index (PI) Behavioral Assessment 

Another brief test, the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment checks up on four primary and two secondary personality aspects. These are

  • Primary 

Dominance

Extroversion 

Patience

Formality

  • Secondary

Decision-making

Response level

The test has a free-response format, with two identical checklists of adjectives that the test-taker has to fill in. 

One of the checklists requires the test taker to pick the adjectives that best describe how people expect them to behave, while in the other, they pick adjectives that characterize how they feel they really are. Most people are able to finish this test in around 10 minutes.

PI Behavioral Assessment Breakdown 

  • Number of questions: 50
  • Time taken to complete: Around 10 minutes
  • Number of traits tested: 6
  • Question format: Checklist

6. The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ)

Launched by the Saville and Holdsworth Ltd. (SHL) group, this MCQ-based pre-employment personality test contains a total of 104 questions that measure as many as 32 different personality traits, which are categorized into three personality domains—

  • Relationship with people
  • Thinking style and feelings
  • Emotions

A notable feature of the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire is its easy-to-understand custom reports. The reports present the strengths and weaknesses of the test-taker in a helpful graphical representation.    

SHL OPQ Breakdown

  • Number of questions: 104
  • Time taken to complete: Around 20 minutes
  • Number of traits tested: 32
  • Question format: You are presented with 3 statements out of which you have to select one that is most true about you and one that is least true about you

7. 16 Personality Factor (16PF) Questionnaire

As is evident from its name, the 16PF Questionnaire looks into 16 personality traits to evaluate a candidate’s professional effectiveness. Warmth, liveliness, social boldness, privateness, and self-reliance are some of these traits.

The untimed test consists of 185 questions in a scaled format (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree) and takes around half an hour to complete. The results are broken down into five categories:

  • Relating to Others
  • Influence and Collaboration
  • Thinking Style
  • Structure and Flexibility
  • Management of Pressure

16PF Questionnaire Breakdown 

  • Number of questions: 185 
  • Time taken to complete: Around 30 minutes
  • Number of traits tested: 16
  • Question format: 5-point agreement scale

8. NEO PI-R (The Revised NEO Personality Inventory)

An offshoot of Big Five, the Revised NEO Personality Inventory also measures the same five traits but breaks them down into sub-categories called “facets”. Each main trait has six associated facets.

For instance, the conscientiousness trait includes competence, orderliness, dutifulness, achievement striving, self-discipline, and cautiousness. 

Many of these facets are considered highly important in the modern workplace making NEO PI-R one of the most popular pre-employment personality tests.  

This test is available in two versions, a short version with 60 questions and a full-length version with 240 questions. Each question presents the test taker with a statement where they have to select how strongly they agree or disagree with it on a five-point scale. 

NEO PI-R Breakdown

  • Number of questions: 60/240
  • Time taken to complete: Around 15 minutes for the short version, 30-40 minutes for the extended version   
  • Number of traits tested: 5 main traits and 30 sub-traits 
  • Question format: 5-point agreement scale

9. HEXACO Personality Inventory

Another pre-employment personality test similar to Big Five, the HEXACO Personality Inventory measures six personality traitsHonesty-humility, Emotionality, eXtraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Openness to experience.

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Like NEO PI-R, HEXACO also features facets associated with each main personality trait (four facets per trait). The test is available in three formats

  • Full-length version with 200 questions
  • Half-length version with 100 questions
  • HEXACO-60 with 60 questions   

HEXACO Personality Inventory Breakdown

  • Number of questions: 200/100/60 
  • Time taken to complete: Around 15 minutes for the 100-question format 
  • Number of traits tested: 6 main traits, 24 sub-traits
  • Question format: 5-point agreement scale

10. Eysenck Personality Inventory

Developed by prominent psychologist Hans Eysenck, The Eysenck Personality Inventory analyses two key personality traits—extroversion vs. introversion and neuroticism vs. stability. The assessment consists of 100 yes/no questions and provides three main scores as the results.

Two of these scores (“E” and “N”) measure the extroversion and neuroticism levels, while the third, the “lie” score, measures how honest the candidate has been in answering the questions. 

A shortened version of the test is also available, with 57 questions in the same format.

Some recruiters use a modified version called Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. It includes psychoticism/socialization as a third personality trait. 

Eysenck Personality Inventory Breakdown

  • Number of questions: 100/57 
  • Time taken to complete: 20-35 minutes for the full-length version, 10-20 minutes for the shortened version
  • Number of traits tested: 2
  • Question format: Yes/No

How to Create a Custom Pre-Employment Personality Test

The personality tests mentioned above are all great for estimating a job candidate’s probability of being a good behavioral fit. But, in case you have some very specific personality requirements for a role, designing your own custom pre-employment personality test may be the right course for you. 

Here’s how you can do it in 6 steps. 

Step 1: Decide Which Behaviors to Measure

When creating a personality test, you need to be perfectly clear about which personality traits you need to assess before you draft your first question. Thoughtfully curate your list of behaviors giving due consideration to your company’s values and culture as well as the temperamental qualities needed for the role.  

Tip – No matter which role you are hiring for, do include conscientiousness among the traits you decide to measure. Research indicates that conscientiousness is the single most important predictor of job performance. 

Step 2: Create Questions and Answer Options 

Once you’ve decided on the personality traits that your test will target, the next step is to design questions that will thoroughly and accurately assess those traits. 

Many candidates look up pre-employment personality test tips online as part of their interview preparation. So, your questions need to be clever and unique. 

There are a variety of styles of questions you can include in your custom employment personality test. These include

  • Multiple-choice with four statements
  • Scaled (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree)
  • True/False
  • Yes/No
  • Multiple-response/Checkbox

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ProProfs, a Pre-Employment Personality Test Maker lets you add questions in multiple ways. You can:

  • Create questions from scratch
  • Modify a ready-to-use personality assessment  
  • Add questions from a massive question bank with 100,000+ assessments and quizzes
  • Bulk import assessment questions from an excel spreadsheet

Tip – Don’t restrict yourself to creating simple text-based questions and answer options. Feel free to include images and videos if doing so helps you ask your questions in a better way.

Read: How to Create a Multiple Choice Question Test

Step 3: Categorize the Questions

With your questions and personality traits at hand, you can start matching each question with the personality type it will measure. 

Keep in mind that some questions in your pre-employment personality test may fit multiple trait categories. With ProProfs Quiz Maker, you can make this categorization by opting for advanced scoring when editing a personality quiz question.    

Watch: How to Create a Personality Quiz

Step 4: Allocate Points to Answer Options

Next up, you need to assign points to each answer option based on how strongly you feel it reflects a particular personality trait. For the more complex questions in your personality test, you may need to assign multiple personality types and points to each answer option. 

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Tip – When assigning points to a question, keep in mind that an extremely high score may be undesirable for some of the personality traits. 

For instance, if someone scores the maximum in the “confidence” category, it may indicate a dominant personality. This will be unsuitable if you’re looking for someone with a more balanced temperament. 

Step 5: Start Building the Test 

Having decided on the personality traits, questions, answer options, and scoring, you can move on to building your assessment online using a quiz-making tool. 

When choosing a pre-employment personality test maker, look for the following key features:

  • A high degree of quiz configurability
  • Automated and advanced scoring 
  • A number of dedicated options for creating personality quizzes
  • Fast and intuitive UI
  • Facility to include images, audio, and videos in questions and answer options
  • A question bank to help you in drafting your questions 
  • In-depth reporting and analytics

Watch: How to Choose the Best Assessment Software

ProProfs has all of the above-mentioned features and also includes additional functionalities that help in creating highly-insightful personality assessments. This includes adding a countdown timer, disabling tab switching, randomizing questions and answer options, question branching logic, and more.

Tip – Provide a brief overview of your test in the description section. You can include instructions for test-takers, what they can expect in the questions and the time limit (if any) for it. You can also include a video about the company and/or the test to go with the overview.  

Also, you may want to hide the test scores in the results screen. Make sure that the online personality test software you choose offers these functionalities in the report settings.

Step 6: Customize and Style the Test

Your pre-employment personality test is one of the first things a job candidate will see about your company. That’s why it’s crucial to style and customize it to accurately reflect your corporate identity. 

With ProProfs, you can create professional-looking and highly-customized employment personality tests using its collection of 100+ beautiful themes and a wide variety of fonts and layouts.

You can also white-label your test with your company logo and colors and change the background to any image you like.  

Watch: How to Design Beautiful Quizzes

Once you’ve customized and styled your pre-employment personality test, you can start using it to assess job candidates.  

Tip – After a candidate has taken the assessment, their report will be required by everyone in the interview panel. If you’re interviewing several candidates every day, it would be best to get their personality test reports automatically mailed to various e-mail addresses.    

Example of Pre-Employment Personality Test

Here’s a glimpse of a ready-to-use pre-employment personality test created with ProProfs Quiz Maker. This test has 50 multiple-choice questions and measures 10 personality traits.

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A Selection of the Questions 

Check out a few questions from this assessment along with the personality traits that these target. 

Personality Trait Assessed – Emotional Intelligence

Question/Statement – I can easily tell how other people are feeling at a particular moment.

Answer Options

  • This is always like me
  • This is sometimes like me
  • This is not like me

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Personality Trait Assessed –  Honesty and Integrity

Question/Statement – If a coworker consistently left early without following the protocol for doing so, would you cover for them?

Answer Options

  • Never
  • Sometimes
  • Always

Personality Trait Assessed –  Confidence

Question/Statement – You are starting in a new position that requires you to perform tasks that you do not have any prior experience with. You…

Answer Options

  • Acknowledge that you are resourceful and will find others who will help you be successful on the job to learn
  • Try your best to learn without bothering other people
  • Decide that it’s best not to take a job for which you are not qualified

q3-min-1

Personality Trait Assessed – Teamwork

Question/Statement – You’re on an urgent deadline and one of your teammates gets sick with the flu. You…

Answer Options

  • pull together a team meeting and figure out how you can work together to meet the deadline.
  • say nothing and do whatever is needed, but feel resentful that your teammate isn’t pulling their weight.
  • try to find out if your teammate is faking illness to avoid meeting the deadline.

Personality Trait Assessed – Conflict Resolution 

Question/Statement – In disagreement with another person, I try and understand their perspective and position. 

Answer Options

  • This is a lot like me 
  • This is sometimes like me
  • This is never like me

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Report

Here’s a look at the reporting for this pre-employment personality test. The detailed report makes it easy to analyze the candidate’s personality by revealing how they scored on each of the 10 parameters and which options they chose for each of the questions.  

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Create a Comprehensive Hiring Strategy 

One can confidently state that no efficient hiring process is complete without pre-employment personality tests. But, personality testing is only one large piece of the recruitment puzzle.    

You shouldn’t use personality tests as the only determining factor for work culture fit or as a replacement for face-to-face meetings. For that, you can conduct video interview assessments. The idea is to augment your existing recruitment methods for the best hiring results. 

You can apply this strategy to your post-hiring processes as well. For instance, you can use online courses created with a learning management system, such as ProProfs Training Maker to streamline your onboarding and new employee training program.   

Coming back to employment personality assessmentsif you decide to go the custom route, you’ll need advanced and feature-rich assessment-making software for the job. ProProfs Quiz Maker offers over a hundred settings, along with highly customizable scoring and results to create uber-professional personality quizzes and assessments.

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About the author

kamy

Kamy is an eLearning & training expert. He has been published in eLearningIndustry, TrainingMag. As a corporate trainer at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in building an awesome eLearning management system that has simplified learning and training for thousands of customers across the globe. Follow Kamy @kamyanderson

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