The Desk

January 20, 2007

You Want to Ace the Personality Test?

Filed under: Books and Papers,Job Search — Yvonne LaRose @ 3:08 PM

I’m at the library searching for some books that needed to be returned. I’d like to make the notes from selected pages that I didn’t have time to make. I’d like to read some sections that I didn’t have time to read. I’d like to copy a few pages for the sake of reference and back-up bibliography.

The books aren’t back on the shelves yet. However, there are some other valuable gems just begging me to take them home and read (in order to reinforce some conclusions already reached) and build a knowledge of additional arguments both pro and con on the subjects.

But there’s this one title that makes you stop and say, “What?!?” It’s called Ace the Corporate Personality Test by Edward Hoffman, Ph.D. (2001). One of McGraw-Hill’s reviewers tells the potential reader/purchaser that they have succeeded in putting forth their best foot in every respect. Their resume is so polished you can pick your teeth with it. Your skills are exactly what’s needed. Now they want to help you make your personality a fit for the company — at least on paper.

There’s a problem with this in several respects. Job search is a two-way street. It’s a matter of the employer looking for the right person for the job. It’s a case of the job seeker (whether passive or active) who is motivated to take the job with the right company. And that’s where many job seekers fall down. They forget that this is a joining for mutual benefit. They forget that there needs to be mutuality in many respects before there is a good match.

Ace the Corporate personality Test anticipates helping the job seeker pass a test. The results will be a profile that lives on paper. It doesn’t walk, talk, breathe, eat, or sleep. It doesn’t make friends nor have relationships. It’s simply a profile that lives on a sheet of paper. The fact that the book proposes to help a person pass the test means the personality is manufactured. It isn’t real. It’s a fiction.

What is real is the culture that is found in this employer’s environment. It may be a hard-working, fun-loving culture that accepts anyone and everyone. It may be a hotbed of competitiveness; no prisoners (friends) are taken. Then again, the corporate culture may be extremely clinical. People only talk with one another when necessary and even that is kept to a minimum. All of these possible cultures could exist in the company and the job seeker is the complete opposite of any one of them. While the job seeker could potentially pass the personality test and prove to be the best fit on paper, the reality is they are not that profile and will soon become miserable because of the misfit.

The back cover talks about useful content in the book. The thing I see that should prove most beneficial is “What questions an employer can and cannot ask under the law.”

Another useful thing I see in this book is the Glossary. It contains four pages of personality and measurement terms unique to the testing and personality assessment realm. To know and understand these terms is to have an appreciation of yourself compared with where you want to go.

Let me shift back to this “make yourself fit” mindset promulgated by Hoffman’s title. It was published shortly after the Internet bubble burst. People were desperate for a job. People were being laid off in droves. People wanted to fit in somewhere, anywhere, just so they would still have a paycheck and not become destitute and bankrupt. We’re sort of out of the woods, sort of. That mindset is behind us. Even then, it should not have existed.

There’s something known as fitting the square peg into the round  hole. Boning up on how to master a personality test so that you pass that portion of the employment screening is just such a concept. If you do not match the corporate culture, having a test say that you do is to invite yourself into a working Hell.

You know yourself. As you search for your right fit, you should also be doing research on the company and reading as many articles about people in the company or about the company as possible. From your reading and research, you should be able to formulate an opinion of the place.

Be true to yourself. On the first interview, make certain that as you weave your way through halls and cubicles that you keep your antennae up to catch as much of the corporate “waves” as possible. Then you’ll know whether there’s a match and whether it makes sense to have Interview Two or not.

Do you really want to ace the personality test? How well do you know yourself?

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Aptitude Tests, Personality Tests, Occupational Interest assessments.

4 Comments »

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    Comment by www.trenchlesstechnologies.net — August 30, 2014 @ 8:45 AM | Reply

  2. These tests are a total waste of time. Obviously the people who have designed these assessments have sold them to executives sitting in ivory towers that are not in touch with the real world. That is the reason someone would need to write a book about passing these tests. Real world experience should count for much more than a personality test.

    As an example I have been in the same industry for over 15 years. I have spent over 8 of those years in management and have been pretty successful. I have turned around two under performing branches in two different states where I knew no one going in. I have one awards for my management performance and at a previous firm that was bought out, I consistently ranked in the top 5 of our 110 branches. I have proven that I can recruit, control expenses, drive revenue and exceed goals.

    Recently, I was turned down for a great opportunity in which the hiring manager wanted to hire me. The person said she thought I would be perfect for the position. I failed the assessment and therefore she was not able to extend an offer. She called the company that developed the assessment and agreed with my answers. As she said, she wouldn’t be able to pass the exam herself. As it turns out, I have turned down some offers from another firm that uses the exact same exam. I have taken this exact exam a total of 7 times over the past year. It scores you a low, moderate or high. You can be hired as a moderate or high, but not if you score a low. I scored a moderate of 6 of the 7 exams. What I did different on the one I scored low, I have no idea as they are the exact same questions. However, the company will only allow her to use the most recent score, even though 3 of the others are within their 6 month time frame.

    What kind of world have we become when quality people are turned down for jobs based on a corporate policy designed around a consultant or psychologist selling an assessment to an executive that is not in touch with the real world?

    I just don’t get it. Now, not only did I not get the job, but the company lost out on someone who would have been a tremendous asset to them. Next week I am preparing for an in-basket exam, personality tests and an interview with a psychologist for a position with another firm, that is very interested in my proven track record. I can only hope I can get through this assessment portion as it is the only standing between me and a position I would love and excel at.

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    Comment by Michael — October 22, 2009 @ 8:17 AM | Reply

  3. In truth – these tests don’t “test” for what the employer needs – only what someone deluded enough to think they work WANTS. I am not a natural liar, in fact, I am horrible at it. It’s probably why I needed to look up how to pass these things online. Say sirrah sirrah, and all that.

    Note that I said pass without using quotation marks. If something will prevent you from getting hired, and you get a little pop up message saying that you aren’t qualified when you finish it, that right there is a failure. If you loose a job you would be qualified for because you don’t answer something the way someone else wants, that is a failure.

    It might be there to measure “fit” for a job – but being qualified for an executive job shows that, through your past actions, you would enjoy and have the capability to do it. And no floor level worker is going to pass without cheating – if they can, they would already have a job or WILL quickly be leaving for better pastures. 7.15 an hour at a crappy job is only a long term career for the terminally maladjusted – true enough.

    The truth is the kind of corporation that requires these sort of things… at any level… Isn’t the kind to attract really driven executives or workers, out for more than a paycheck. No employee willing to work for minimum wage at a crappy job will be the stellar, obedient, friendly, and never angry person these tests require: and any truly driven and intelligent executive can do better than a company that thinks they work. To me, the only thing they seem to test for reliably is a corporations stupidity and willingness to waste money and time.

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    Comment by Matt — January 16, 2009 @ 1:39 PM | Reply

  4. I was recently turned down for a position for a company based on a personality assessment. This was not surprise to me as I conducted a study some years ago including some of the most prominent and successful business owners in my community challenging them to the test. Not one of those very qualified individuals passed that test. One was so frustrated and eager he took the test several times trying to find the right answers to his dismay proved him unsuccessful. My quest was to prove that this test was unfair and unjust and violated the disability act. It further proved not only unjust to those qualified to sell a DVD for example with a disability but also very inaccurate for a driven individual driven for success. I have owned four businesses. My latest was a successful full service engineering firm, from which I am not a degreed engineer. I am out in the job search approaching a different stage in my life, looking for a company to grow and prosper with, without the headache of ownership..just sense of ownership. I am baffled by this entire test and wonder how I can cheat the test; so to speak, knowing the accuracy of the test is proven to be wrong

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    Comment by Juanita Schaefer — September 3, 2008 @ 12:59 PM | Reply


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