Pre-Employment Testing and Personality Assessments

When job vacancies are advertised, the employers must select the right individuals through some recruiting techniques, including personality assessments, verbal reasoning tests, psychometric tests as well as one-on-one interviews. These are used to evaluate the personality, character traits and competence of the potential employees. Here is a detailed look at two specific assessments in this regard - personality assessments and pre-employment testing.

  1. Personality assessment

Personality assessments usually involve subtle interrogation of the prospective employees to look into their emotional state, attitude, character traits, motivations and temperament. These attributes affect how well a potential employee will fit within the company structure. Interviewers may make various approaches when carrying out personality assessments, including:

  • Verbal and non-verbal interviews – to understand your occupational ambitions and past work experiences
  • Cognitive assessments – to understand how your thoughts influence your decision making, planning and logical thinking
  • Behavioural observation – to assess your response to high pressure situations and
  • Personality inventories – to establish your education, occupation, health, economic and social backgrounds

Personal assessment interviews tend to be more quantitative than qualitative; i.e., they seek to quantify your traits using a predetermined score-card or rating. Some of the questions may be random and unique based on the interviewer’s interaction with you as a candidate and the job role.

  1. Pre-employment testing

Usually, pre-employment testing is a regulated, unbiased technique of assessing the job applicants’ competency and attributes in relation to satisfying the requirements of the job. These traits will influence how employees will work within a team to meet the organization’s goals. Some common pre-employment evaluations are;

  • Skill tests – to assess your adequacy of skills acquired through formal training or job experience e.g. communication, planning, speaking, editing, and typing
  • Aptitude tests - to measure your intelligence and logic, and
  • Personality tests – to identify and establish your behavioural traits and how they will affect your productivity

Pre-employment testing is both quantitative and qualitative in nature. Interviewers usually rate behaviour, skill and intelligence levels of the candidates using predetermined grading systems.

Importance of Pre-Employment Testing and Personality Assessments

Since pre-employment testing and personality assessments usually do not depend on human judgement, they are not prone to human error. They provide an objective insight in your personalities, skills and character. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), companies that employ pre-employment and personality assessments for recruiting bear lower hiring costs and spend less time than those that don’t. These tests structured and procedural manner help to reduce the manpower and financial resources required by the recruiting agency. However, while pre-employment testing may tend to focus on the actual skills and abilities of an employee, personality assessment tests may rely on psychology and may be used to understand the persona of the candidates.

When selecting candidates for specific job categories, pre-employment tests, particularly aptitude tests, will help establish the specific skill sets that employees in these positions require. For instance, a sales agent does not necessarily need to be a good driver but a good negotiator, while a managing director does not need to be good at typing but they should be good at making decisions. Therefore, you should ensure that you are qualified for the job role and its requirements before applying for it.

How to Pass Pre-Employment Testing and Personality Assessments?

Generally, there are five personality types that personality assessments may help measure; i.e. agreeableness, extroversion, emotional intelligence, openness to experience and conscientiousness. These will have an influence on the work culture and ability of individuals to work with others. With structured testing methods, you will have an easier time in preparing for the interview, especially if you have prior information on what type of assessment you will go through.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare for pre-employment tests and personality assessments:

·      Preparation

There are several free online resources to help one prepare adequately for pre-employment and personality tests. provides sample questions and scenarios for candidates to rehearse. Do use the correct test samples, especially in aptitude tests to ensure that the right skill sets have been tested. If the job position requires special skills, relearn these skills by reading or taking practical tests.

·      Staying calm

Any process that entails supervision or grading may create stress in the participant. When taking personality assessment or pre-employment tests, try some relaxing exercises when stressed, such as breathing deeply to settle down your nerves. Also, get enough sleep before the night of the interview so as to maintain a clear and focused mind during the interview.

·      Attention to detail

Before embarking on the test, you should take your time to listen to and/or read instructions clearly. There may be tricky questions, requiring a proper grasp of the instructions. Ignoring, disregarding or misinterpreting any rules or guidelines is highly discouraged. You should seek clarity where there may be unclear instructions.

·      Honesty

Providing false answer to a question may not increase the chances of getting the desired job. You should not be tempted to lie during tests by providing false impressions on your skill levels, previous experiences or competency. Such inconsistencies and falsehoods may be detected by interviewers during the review process.

·      Time Management

You should take time to plan the test for maximum score. Questions that appear to be more challenging to you should be allocated more time. However, you should not spend too much time on certain questions, limiting your ability to answer others.

Finally, according to the Global Trends Report published in 2014, pre-employment and personality assessments were two of the most used new employee selection methods; i.e., about 62% of recruiters used them. Hiring agencies may effectively identify which soft skills and behavioural tendencies they should pay attention to when taking interviews. With this information, the task of pairing individuals or putting teams together gets simplified.

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