Personality questionnaires: Candidate 101

So you’ve applied for a new job and your potential employer has asked you to participate in a personality questionnaire. Never done one before? Concerned about what this means and what the company is assessing?

17th March 2016

Cubiks Team

To help alleviate your concerns, Cubiks, the company behind the PAPI personality assessment has shared some frequently asked questions from candidates taking personality questionnaires for the first time.

Is a personality questionnaire a test?

No it isn’t; personality questionnaires ask you to ‘self-report’ on your own personality. To get the most accurate and useful results from your assessment, you should take the time to sit in a quiet room with no distractions and answer the questions honestly.

Is the employer looking for an ‘ideal profile’? Can I get my personality assessment wrong?

As the personality questionnaire is not a test, there are no wrong answers and it should never be used as a black and white method for rejecting or accepting applicants.

Your responses may indicate that you have a preference for certain ways of working or types of work. Ultimately, the personality questionnaire will provide insight into how you work that will be explored further in an interview or feedback discussion. It should be used in this conversation to help both you and your potential employer decide whether the role is a good fit.

Can I manipulate the outcome of my personality questionnaire?

In a sense, you can. You could complete a personality questionnaire so that the result doesn’t reflect your true personality, for example by answering questions at random. It is very unlikely that you could engineer your profile to present your personality in a certain way, and some questionnaires even include a measure to detect attempts at this. We always advise candidates to answer their questionnaire in an honest, open way, as there is no benefit in giving false responses.

Are all personality questionnaires the same?

No, there are a variety of personality questionnaires on the market, measuring a wide range of dimensions and drawing from different methods and models. These can be in different formats, although these days most are conducted remotely via an online invitation.

Will the personality questionnaire ask about my private life?

As we explained above, there are a wide variety of personality questionnaires, and some may ask more personal questions than others. Many personality questionnaires used by organisations for selection purposes are work based, so they focus on behaviour and motivations at work.

However, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of sharing personal information, you should not be afraid to ask your potential employer or the assessment provider they use to tell you a bit more about what the assessment will include.

Can a personality questionnaire be used to predict my performance in a role?

This perfect prediction does not exist. Personality questionnaires are tools that help HR professionals improve the decisions they make, and the information gained from them can therefore have a big impact. As mentioned earlier, the feedback discussion is pivotal to this.

When personality questionnaires are used in combination with other techniques or tools, the employer’s understanding of you as a candidate is dramatically enhanced. This more comprehensive insight can help employers get an even better idea of how an individual might perform in a certain role.

Is there anything in it for me?

Obviously, employers get a lot out of asking candidates to answer these questionnaires, otherwise they would not be so popular. For this reason, candidates often see them as a one way street. This is a misperception; a good personality questionnaire, followed up with a well-planned interview or feedback discussion should provide you with a great deal of useful information on your strengths and development areas. This is why many employers now use these assessments in their development processes as well as for recruitment.

Cubiks is an international consultancy that combines business psychology with a range of innovative online tools to help streamline selection and development processes.

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