Personality Tests


Also known as : personality test, personality questionnaire, behavioural test, behavioural questionnaire.

Typical length: 60-200+ questions

Typical time to complete: untimed

Unlike ability tests, these types of psychometric questionnaire tend not to have right or wrong answers, nor do they have time limits. The results from a personality questionnaire will usually be used to compare some personality trait of yours to those of the general population, or some other group. This is known as the 'Trait' based normative approach. You may have heard of tests like the 16PF, which stands for 16 Personality Factors or Traits.


The personality traits measured are ones you will recognise - they often include things like assertiveness, sensitivity to others, conscientiousness, and rule orientation.


Personality testing can typically assess anything from 8 to 20 personality traits.


The other main approach to personality testing uses a 'Type' based ipsative approach, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI, which due to it's measurement characteristics cannot be easily used in selection, so we don't discuss it here.


The questions do not require any effort to complete - they simply ask about your preferences. The format may have anything from 2 to 5 response options.


e.g. I enjoy peace and quiet


a) agree b) neutral c) disagree


or I comfort people when they are upset.


a) unlike me  

b) a bit like me  

c) neither like nor unlike me

d) a bit like me

e) very like me


If you are asked to complete a personality questionnaire :


1. Remember there are no "right" or "wrong" answers.

2. Do not spend very long thinking about the answer to any one question. The first answer that comes to mind is probably the most accurate.

3. Answer all of the questions.

4. Be truthful - some questionnaires measure the extent to which you present a positive impression of yourself, and this may influence your questionnaire results.

5. If you are stuck on a question, mark the answer that would best describe how you would prefer to behave.

In all cases, the instructions given to you by the test administrator will take precedence. The best advice that can be given concerning personality tests is to answer questions honestly - some personality tools are designed to detect an inconsistent style of answering and if you are offered a job on the basis of your performance on a test in which you have been less than truthful, then it is unlikely that you and the job will suit each other.