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Answer Personality Tests Honestly for Jobs

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Answer Personality Tests Honestly for Jobs

Article excerpt

Do you stay in close contact with your friends from high school?

That's just one of thousands of questions you might be asked when you apply for a job. How do you answer it? Honestly. What answer does the employer want? Don't even try to guess.

Pre-employment personality assessments are tied to about one- fourth of all jobs these days. Employers who believe in "people analytics" use an array of open-answer and multichoice questions to find workers who they hope will be best suited to the job.

Test makers in the $2 billion-a-year industry say to relax -- there are no right or wrong answers. But that's not entirely true in context. Employers will rate your answers against the characteristics they think will lead to success in the job, often comparing your answers to those from people who have succeeded at that work.

Assessment administrators say you shouldn't try to outfox the text, to imagine what answer the employer wants. The more sophisticated instruments have built-in checks -- "validity scales" - - that can help detect inconsistencies in your answers.

For example, if you're applying for a sales position, you might assume it's good to say you stay in close contact with old friends. It shows you keep relationships going. But you also might think it's better to say no. You don't want to look like it's hard for you to make new friends.

That's why it isn't worth overthinking the questions. Relax. Be yourself. And hope that the employer -- according to the best industry advice -- uses the personality test to influence only about one-third of the hiring decision. …

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