Personality Profiles in the Interview Process

Personality profiling can play a large part in the hiring process.
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At times, it might seem like like the interview process never ends. Between prescreening, phone interviews, Skype interviews, group and individual in-person interviews, getting hired is a lot of work. The personality profiling test is yet another step between you and your job. It's an important step, too, since many companies use personality profiling as one of their largest determinants of whether or not to hire someone.

Profiling Tests

There are over 2,500 tests available for employers to test your personality or emotional intelligence. These tests ask you a series of questions with the goal of getting you to share insights into your personality. Many tests cover five aspects of personality: your emotional stability, your extroversion, your openness to new things, your ability to get along with people and how conscientious you are. They usually aren't pass/fail, though. The results of the test usually help employers decide if you match the company's needs.

Why Companies Test

In a survey conducted by the HireRight employment screening firm, 27 percent of employers admitted to making a bad hire that cost them at least $50,000, and more than half admitted to a bad hire. At the same time, many of the executives who make hiring decisions don't necessarily have the skills to be effective interviewers. Given these two factors, companies do personality testing because it's a cheap way to potentially hire better people.

Handling the Test

A well-designed testing regimen looks for two things: your fit for the position and your fit for the company's culture. A company may want a match to its overall values and style of work, but it should also know that its programmers will be different people than its outside sales representatives. This makes it hard to strategically answer questions, since you need a great deal of advance knowledge.

Many test designers claim that the tests cannot be gamed. The lack of right and wrong answers makes it hard, while some tests contain questions that can check to see if you're trying to fool the test. Some will even notify the employer.

One thing that you can do is to test yourself. This gives you a sense of what your personality is. It also gives you some insight into the test. A knowledge of personality profiling could even help you to profile your interviewer and modify your answers.

Personality Testing Questions

Your interviewer doesn't have to give you a test to profile you. Some of the questions she asks can be designed to elicit personality traits. For example, a question about your hobbies or pets could have a hidden agenda. Dog people are stereotyped as being loyal, while cat owners are stereotyped as being more individualistic. A question about your salary, followed up with "May I see your W-2?" is designed not to find out what you make, but to find out if you're honest. (ref 6)

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