How to Pass a Pre-Employment Assessment

If you’re actively job hunting, you’re likely to run into at least one behavioral assessment during the interview process before landing your dream job. These tests are important tools for employers to help get to know you. The test alone could make or break your application because many companies use pre-employment tests to align right personality traits to the type of person they’re trying to hire for a specific position.

The Caliper Personality Test is one that we recommend prepping for. Not only will you be prepared for this test, but all of the assessments tend to follow a similar pattern. You can prep for that test specifically or get help with other tests through a service called Job Test Prep.

One (maybe secret?) key to performing the way you want to on a pre-employment assessment is self-awareness. We’ve seen people bomb personality tests as a result of not knowing oneself. While you don’t think you fall in this camp, we recommend going through some practice testing to prepare. Keep in mind that 60% of candidates are required to take an assessment of some type during a hiring process.

The Most Popular Personality Assessments to Expect When Job Hunting

Popular tests like the Caliper and Predictive Index can be indicative of your learning ability, how likely you are to get your work done once you’re hired, and your preferences in the workplace. It can paint a picture about the type of person you are. There are an endless number of tests out there you should be aware of -- even if you’re a hiring manager or employer and you want to try a new one.

Here is our list of the most popular pre-employment behavioral assessments that we’ve come across:

  1. Caliper - Caliper has been around for over 50 years and the core focus is on personality assessment that measures the natural strengths, motivations, and potential to succeed. It helps with hiring and also talent development.
  2. Predictive Index - A science-based, behavioral assessment that measures personality to indicate potential success at performing job function. It works similarly to the Caliper, but just with a slightly different approach.
  3. Myers-Briggs - This a self-report questionnaire that helps show people’s preferences, how they perceive the world, and how they make decisions. The test aims to show that random behavior is actually not random at all, and it is consistent.
  4. Wonderlic - You’ve probably heard of this cognitive assessment if you watch the NFL Draft, as it is a measuring tool for selecting players, specifically NFL quarterbacks. The test measures learning styles and tells potential employers how quickly you grasp diverse concepts and make sense of them. In a sense, can you do the job?
  5. Plum.io - The Plum helps improve candidate fit for a position by helping you match the position to the right personality traits. It’s a newer test on the block, but customers and those we spoke with find it to be a vital part of their hiring process.

Other Types of Tests Candidates Might Run Into

Some companies give honesty tests in retail environments to determine the likelihood of a potential employee stealing merchandise. Sales skills tests help measure the aggressiveness and personality among others traits of the applicant. Other companies require employees to meet with a psychologist to determine emotional stability is even a possibility at the Senior Executive level of hiring. How likely you are to receive a test is usually based on the test model. Some tests are licensed to companies for unlimited use and others are offered on a fee-per-test basis. The Predictive Index test is an example of one that you would be more likely to encounter because of its cost structure.

How to Prepare for a Pre-Employment Behavioral Assessment

The first thing you should do is understand what you’re facing with these tests. Prepping for thee Caliper Personality Test is one good way to start. It encompases the basic principles of any pre-employment assessment.

Additionally, you should just be honest with yourself. Pretending to be someone you’re not for the sake of a test is going to do you and your potential employer no good. You can use the test as a tool to help find the right position for you, while an employer can use it to decide if you’re what they’re looking for. It should really be a win-win as an outcome because nobody wants to waste time if things don’t work out.

Some key takeaways to remember and consider as you go through this process:

  • There are good and bad personality tests
  • Ask for the results and show a desire to learn from it
  • Practice ahead of time
  • Be honest and open
  • Take the test in the context of who you are at work, not necessarily who you are at home

It doesn’t seem fair to come to hiring conclusions based on a test, but in our experience hiring and assessing candidates, the tests are very accurate. Also, from the employer perspective, consider that 53% of all job applicants lie on their resume (Society of Human Resources Management, 2003). Positive references can be extorted or fabricated and an in-person interview only gives a quick snapshot of who the candidate really is, but it’s hard to judge tendencies until you see them in action.

An assessment test, on the other hand, makes hiring more than a coin toss. It adds science to the equation. The scientific insight the tests provide is the catalyst for the prevalence of assessment tests in recruitment today.

Possible Assessment Outcomes to Prepare For

Now that you’re expecting to be hit with an assessment and possibly concerned about what it might tell your possible employer, let’s talk about the possible outcomes after taking the assessment.

Outcome 1: You Get the Job!

The possibility you’re probably hoping for is that you get the job. The companies using tests for hiring are aiming to find out what type of person will best fit the job they are offering. If you take a pre-employment assessment and you get the job, you can be confident that you are scientifically predicted to be a great match and you’ll likely perform highly in the job. In some cases, employers will overlook your results if you’re strong everywhere else and perform not as expected on the test.

Outcome 2: You Get Offered a Position Other than the One to Which You Applied

Depending on the company, if you’re deemed a mismatch for the job to which you applied you may be considered for a different position. The likelihood of this happening is related to the type of company to which the job is attached.

Steve Picarde, Sr. is President of PI Midlantic, a Predictive Index consulting firm out of Annapolis, Md. that is celebrating 30 years in business in April. Picarde shares, “If the job you’re applying to is in an aggressive sales environment, it could be black and white: you either have the aggressive yet personable qualities or you don’t. However, a hotel is like a mini city where there are many different roles available for all personality types. Companies who have the tools and the talents and are committed to putting applicants and employees in the roles that are best for them are most likely to bring you on board even if you don’t fit the behavioral profile of the job. If the hiring managers understand applicants’ needs through behavioral test results, they can better utilize them overall.”

Outcome 3: You Don’t Get the Job

It may not be what you want to hear, but if you took an assessment and you didn’t get the job in part because of your test results the job probably wasn’t a good fit for you. You might have been a mismatch for the environment or your talents may have been misaligned.

Regardless, the test shouldn’t be the only measuring stick to which you’re compared. “No assessment tool should be the definitive answer to whether a candidate is hired,” remarks Picarde. “There are many other factors that come into play like talents and experience level.”

“The results may even show that you have the potential to learn to do the job but that you’re not ready to be hired yet,” Picarde continues. “It’s possible to apply learned behaviors to overcome tasks we don’t naturally do well.” You may need to try again for this type of job a little later on down the line.

One last silver lining when not being offered a position is that some companies choose to send their applicants home with a leave-behind report. Applicants who get to review their test results have the opportunity to learn more about their own abilities and for what type of job they may be best suited.

How To Pass

Be prepared by signing up for Job Test Prep as a first step. Otherwise, just understand there are two structures of tests: those that ask questions that can be perceived as leading and those, like the Predictive Index, that have you select traits from a checklist.



Leading Questions

If you study the company, the job requirements, and troll the hiring manager’s online profiles enough you might be able to figure out what the ideal answers to the questions on the leading type tests could be. Hiring managers are looking for someone whose communication style fits well with their management style; who has the skills and personality type to do the job; who is good fit with the existing team; and who shows the most that they will actually get the job done.

Trying to trick the tests could only be successful with a healthy amount of self analysis. If you feel there is a function of the job or a trait of the company culture in which you are lacking, then make plans for how you can grow and change. The more you plan the more likely you’ll become closer to the ideal candidate and know the best answer when you see it.

Adjective Checklists

Tests that don’t use questions, like the Predictive Index, are much harder to guide. The Predictive Index simply offers a series of adjectives.

“[The adjectives] leave you feeling cold,” Picarde says with a chuckle. “You can only check the boxes that describe you. It’s nearly impossible to determine which adjectives would indicate you as a best candidate because there is nothing leading.”

Honesty is Still the Best Policy for You and the Employer

All things considered, the best thing to do when confronted with an assessment test is to keep an open and honest mindset. Fill in your selections quickly and don’t over-think them. The more naturally you answer the questions the more accurate the results will be. If you trick the test it won’t describe you.

“If you successfully fake the test and get hired as a result, you’ll likely find that performing the job is like writing with your opposite hand. You’ll feel like you’re turning yourself inside out every day you go to work,” says Picarde. “You’re far less likely to be good at the job.”

To avoid assessment results negatively affecting your chances of getting hired, take some time before you begin applying to jobs in order to search your own mind and heart. Picarde recently spoke to Duke University students to whom he advised, “The most important key to a great career is to be self aware. Know yourself, how to do well with what you’re talented in, and surround yourself with people who are good in areas that you are not. That is the best way to learn.”

Steph McGuinn is CEO and Founder of HeartBuzz Small Business Marketing and SEO. HeartBuzz focuses on the Christianity, pet, psychology, cruelty-free beauty, and health industries and Steph writes content within those categories. Content authored by Steph aligns with her values and beliefs.