Can I Prepare for Personality Questionnaires

There are three approaches that you can take to the personality questionnaire. You can either be totally honest and make no attempt to influence the outcome, you can try to determine what characteristics you think the employer is looking for and try to ‘fake’ the test accordingly, or you can learn enough about how these tests work so that you can be honest whilst ensuring that you don’t blow your chances because one aspect of your personality comes over as too extreme or inappropriate.


Personality tests have a historical association with academic and occupational psychology which gives the personality testing industry a degree of credibility that it does not always deserve. Some of the well established companies who provide personality tests do operate to the highest ethical and professional standards. However, it is inevitable that such a growth industry with low barriers to entry and little official regulation has attracted companies whose main interest is in making a fast buck.

Most of the companies that produce personality tests are secretive about how their tests were developed or how well they work, claiming that this information is ‘proprietary’. The usefulness and accuracy of even the most well established personality tests, (for example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - first published in 1962 and the subject of thousands of research papers), remain highly controversial among psychologists.

Why Personality Test Use is Increasing
The single most frequently given reason for using personality tests in recruitment is the need to have a selection process which can withstand legal challenges. Another, is the widely held view that personality is becoming more important as people work in less autocratic organizations and are given more responsibility even at fairly low levels. A final factor is the ease with which these tests can now be delivered online. This approach has distinct advantages over paper-and-pencil tests:

  1. There is no need to print and distribute printed material. This has dramatically lowered the cost of test administration.

  2. Results can be processed immediately with no human input. The test administration software can produce very detailed and impressive looking reports.

  3. There has been a growing acceptance of personality testing among the general public. Many people quite happily complete online personality profiles in their own time outside of the recruitment process.

  4. There are now more suppliers producing a greater variety of tests. This has driven costs down even further and increased the choice of tests available to recruiting organizations.

The only sensible way to prepare for personality questionnaires to learn enough about how personality tests work to make an informed decision about which approach to take. If you are wondering whether these tests can be relied on to be fair or whether you can influence the outcome without being dishonest, you can read all about personality tests on this website.

You may also be interested in: An Introduction to Psychometric Tests, Personality Questionnaires and Aptitude Tests.

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