How to Ace a Personality Test and Get Yourself Hired

Illustration of a young man sitting at a desk, taking a desk and thinking

Personality tests are often used as an assessment tool to evaluate a candidate’s personality and uncover their key character traits. Often, carried out in the form of an online questionnaire, recruiters use these tests to screen candidates for a job. They can also be used as a self-awareness tool, which is critical for career success.

So, if you want to know how to pass a personality test with flying colours, these tips will help you achieve success!

1. Read the questions carefully

This one may seem obvious but oftentime, nerves can creep in, especially if you are undergoing personality testing for your dream job. It is vital to read the questions carefully to ensure that you will give an accurate answer.

It is also equally vital to read the instructions in detail. Since there are so many different types of personality tests, it’s wise to take note of the timing restrictions, if any. Taking too long to complete a test, or on the other hand, rushing through it could raise red flags for the recruiter.

2. Be honest 

Yes, you can lie during a test to manipulate the results, beat the test, and get hired. However, personality testing is a two-way assessment. If you lie, then you may then find yourself in a role that is not a good fit for you, or the employer. So, if you play the test, you are only playing yourself.

For example, if you are an introvert that loves working solo, then do not tick the box to say that you love to network and work within teams as this will only end in disaster if you’re hired.

The best thing you can do here is to be completely honest. After all, don't you want to find a job and work environment that you truly love?

3. Know that there are no right or wrong answers

If there are no right or wrong answers, then why do some people pass the test and get hired, while others fail to make the cut? Simply put, employers are looking for candidates that suit their company culture and environment.

While some testing methods equate to pass or fail, most provide recruiters with impartial information to help make educated decisions and gain an understanding of the potential candidate.  This goes back to the previous point; by answering honestly each question the results will reveal where you need to be. Simply put, there are no right or wrong answers.

4. Take practice tests

Job interviews and screenings can be quite stressful, especially those that include testing. However, if you practice with simulated tests beforehand, not only will you become well-acquainted with the types of common questions asked and comfortable in optimising your answers, but this will also have a positive effect on your application.

Coming into a test prepared is likely to reduce stress. Even if you believe that it will be of little impact, nerves can play a crucial role in the way that you respond in a test. By going in prepared, you can portray yourself to be cool-headed, focused, and able to perform under pressure – key traits desired by most employers.

5. Be professional

As an individual, you likely have several personas, depending on where you are and who you are with. So, what you need to think about here, especially when undertaking a pre-employment personality test, is who is the professional you. How are you in the workplace? Are you inspired? Creative? Determined?

Think about this when answering your questions. While there are no right or wrong answers in most cases, you certainly want to avoid choosing a response that doesn’t reflect your professional persona and that seems unethical.

6. Understand the role

Each position will have different requirements for its candidates and it is vital to determine the desired personality traits for the roles you  are applying for. Knowing this will help you improve your score as you will be able to deliver appropriate answers.

For example, a sales executive will likely be charismatic while the desired traits of an accountant will differ dramatically; they will need to demonstrate analytical abilities and attention to detail. If you are an accountant, you might be asked whether you agree or disagree with the following statements which measure related behaviours such as attentiveness and logic.

  • I pay attention to details.
  • I work best under pressure.
  • I like working with puzzles.
  • I enjoy figuring out riddles.
  • I like to plan and offer strategies.

Responding to such statements will enable you to be assessed adequately in these key areas. If, however, these preferences do not suit your personality, it may suggest that you are not well-matched to the position. Isn't it better to know this in advance?

7. Look out for impression control questions

Since numerous job applicants intentionally manipulate their answers to make themselves look better, many tests contain imoression control questions. These are designed to ensnare applicants that are trying to paint an unrealistic or false depiction of themselves.

When you know what to look out for, these questions can be easily recognised; they habitually include the terms 'always' or 'never' while other tests may ask you how far you agree with a statement. For example:

  • I always complete assignments on time
  • I have never shown up late to an appointment
  • I have never told a white lie

When considering the above statements, it would be dishonest to say that you always complete assignments on time. You have likely missed an assignment deadline once in your life. Likewise, the same applies if you strongly agree with the statement that you have never told a white lie. Most people have told a white lie at some point in their life. So, responding with unrealistic answers to such statements will harbour suspicion on the authenticity of your answers. Your primary focus should be on portraying yourself as an honest, trustworthy professional.

8. Be mindful of contradictions

Much like control questions, many tests contain contradictory questions to catch candidates out. To be sure that you do not unintentionally contradict yourself, it is good practice to look for conflicting verbosity.

For example, you might strongly agree that you have never shown up late to an appointment but then neutrally respond to a statement about missing deadlines. By doing so, you will be contradicting yourself and showing yourself to be untrustworthy.

It is not uncommon for the same question to be phrased differently so it is good to look out for these and remain consistent.

9. Be persistent

In today's competitive market, it can be a real challenge to find the right employment opportunity and making it through the screening process can be even more daunting.

Personality tests can be lengthy and thus, require a lot of motivation, attention, and self-awareness.

If you want to perform well, it is vital to keep your concentration high. To respond to questions precisely and sincerely then you must be persistent. Remember why you are doing the test in the first place; you are looking for the perfect role!

10. Don't overthink it

Now that you are aware of the ins and outs of a personality test, the last thing you need to do is relax. You have done your preparation so don't overthink it. If you overanalyse each statement, you are more likely to provide conflicting responses.

While a personality test can initially seem quite daunting and stressful, there are many ways you can prepare for it. With a little bit of preparation and the help of this guide, you should be well-equipped to ace your next test.

Have you ever had to take a personality tests for a job? Share your tips with in the comments section below!


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 12 May 2015.