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Job Hunting, Jobseekers' Perspective

Personality Tests

I met with a jobseeker today who showed me the results of a personality test he had recently taken while applying for a sales job. It was well-worded, concise in its findings, and presented him quite clearly as an outgoing and social person with high standards in excellence and a strong moral compass.

Perhaps that is why he didn’t get the job!

No matter how we, in looking for jobs, feel about taking personality or behavioral assessments, they have their value. Many employers use them to find candidates whose personality or behavioral traits are most in line with their own corporate culture. Some employers use them to be in better compliance with EEOC’s Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (using non-biased criteria to make an informed hiring decision).

Bottom line is: employers use them to predict workplace performance. How well are you going to fit into our organization? How well will you do the job?

I’ve heard jobseekers curse personality tests that have screened them out of consideration for jobs. On the surface it hardly seems fair. How am I to know what the company wants unless they tell me first? Then I know how to answer the questions. Problem is, that defeats the purpose: you then can fake your answers to suit what the employer wants. Then, when you get the job, you find it wasn’t quite what you expected. Maybe you have a laid back management style, and you now work for a company that expects a micromanager. Were I in that situation, I’d last a week.

Think of the process as a blind date. You want to know as much about your date in advance as possible. That is what the employer is doing– learning about his new “date”. That is what you as a jobseeker should be doing too: learning as much as you can about the company, their values, mission, vision, corporate culture, and so on. Talk to their HR people, ask them what they want to see in a successful candidate so you have that information before applying. Then you can make an informed decision that will hopefully save their time and yours. And hopefully, any personality or behavioral tests you have to take will show them you are as good a fit as you see yourself.


About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.


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