Review the job description, thinking about what type of person the employer is looking for and how your personality fits the employer's needs. According to the Wall Street Journal, the purpose of these tests is to eliminate people who don't have the right personality for a particular job. If you have a hot temper, you shouldn't apply for a job in a child daycare or some other job that requires patience and tolerance. However, if you have worked through past issues and developed a history of patience and tolerance, put your past out of your mind and approach the test with a positive attitude.
Pre-employment personality tests can seem invasive. Nobody is perfect. It's natural to have flaws in your personal history that you don't want a potential employer to know. Trying to "beat" a pre-employment screening test by lying is a bad idea though, and won't work. Tests often contain multiple-choice questions that don't always have an obvious correlation to the job and are designed by psychologists to catch people in lies. You may be able to prepare for the test by looking for sample tests online, according to organizational psychologist and corporate consultant Erica Klein. However, tests vary for different types of positions and, according to the Wall Street Journal, online answer keys are frequently inaccurate. The trick is to answer all questions honestly and consistently, in a way that highlights your current strengths and doesn't exaggerate guilt or anxiety about your imperfections.
Clear the air with your potential employer before you take the test. Make it clear that you intend to answer all questions honestly and want to be sure you'll still be considered for employment if admissions of your past problems will affect your score. According to David Scarborough, the developer of the most common pre-employment test, Unicru, the test should only be one aspect of the hiring process: "Interviews and management judgment are still key parts of the equation," he says. Some employers only consider applicants who achieve a certain desirable score. However, if the employer uses the test to aid in, rather than determine, the decision-making process, you should consider discussing past problems you've had regarding temper or criminal behavior, assuming you have been able to overcome these problems.
Answer self-evaluation questions realistically. According to the Wall Street Journal, many pre-employment tests ask applicants to answer multiple choice questions ranging between "Strongly Agree" and "Strongly Disagree." Test designer Robert Hogan says his pre-employment tests rate a person's "social desirability score" and, if the score is too high, the employer should be suspicious. If you "Strongly Agree" that you are always honest and have never stolen or thought about stealing anything, you are projecting an unrealistic level of social desirability and your answers will look suspicious. Human resources expert Kathleen Groll Connelly says, "People who give extreme answers to questions are often--but not always--overcompensating to hide their true intent than those who do not answer with the extreme choices."
Answer philosophical questions at the extreme ends of the scale. If a question is asking you to take a position on morality, work judgments or other ideals--as opposed to personality traits you actually have and mistakes you've actually made. According to the Wall Street Journal, an answer key they obtained suggests applicants should say they "Strongly Agree" with statements like, "Any trouble you have is your own fault" and should "Strongly Disagree with the statement, "You have to give up on some things you start."
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- Photo Credit taking test image by Petro Feketa from Fotolia.com
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