Taking a Personality Test – A Case Study (And What To Expect)

Have you been asked to complete an assessment for a job? Don’t panic. When designed and administered correctly, objective psychometrics like a personality test can be an incredibly useful tool both for you and your work. We asked a recent candidate their experience taking one of our assessments. Read on to learn what to expect.

Recently I was given the opportunity to take a PeopleFactors’ assessment and received personal feedback from one of their professional business psychologists. I must admit, prior to actually sitting down to face this personality test I was somewhat apprehensive about it. A variety of perceptions and opinions, and many of them rather skeptical, seemed to crowd my thoughts.

What exactly would these assessments reveal about me? How accurate can an online personality test be?

I suppose these feelings that I brought with me to the personality test are likely to be shared with most people. Adults don’t often take assessments or tests, and certainly not those designed to measure their ability and potential. A common response might be that simply doing their job is measurement enough. On the other hand, people do not regularly receive opportunities to truly reveal the sum total of characteristics, talents, and abilities that make them who they are and uncover their potential for greater things.

PeopleFactors markets itself as an organization that creates wealth through people. They support organizations by identifying and nurturing their talent management process. To that end, the PeopleFactors personality tests serve as the primary discovery tool to locate the best and brightest within any business and guide these companies toward making better career development decisions that serve both the business and their employees.

Well, at least that is what I knew of PeopleFactors before diving in. But I was determined to decide for myself while taking their personality test and listening to the feedback they provided based on my results.

I consider myself an intelligent and competitive person. And I understand that these tests are designed to determine the extent to which I possess the skills and personal make-up inherent to successful business leaders.

So with this in mind, my initial approach with the first test was to give them what they wanted.

If they wanted a goal-oriented, decision-making leader, that’s exactly how I would tailor my responses, regardless if my answers accurately reflected my opinions or experience. And again, it’s my assumption that many people might do the same. I mean, we all want to appear and be perceived as smart and highly-capable and in possession of great qualities and talents that perhaps have yet to be noticed, right? I do. And because of that, I began my personality test attempting to game my assessment.

Now sure, PeopleFactors does provide timed intelligence assessment tests, which are similar to IQ tests and designed to be as definitive as possible by testing analytic ability and intellect and reasoning. You can’t beat these tests with strategy. It was with the greyer, more ambiguous assessments that queried my motivational values and managerial style that I thought I could out-manoeuvre.

It took me no more than 15 minutes, however, to understand that this tactic wasn’t going to work.

Even as I attempted to provide the answers I felt most characteristic to executive-level managers, the questions I encountered often contained no absolute correct response at all. Moreover, I soon realized that many questions were being posed again and again, each time slightly reworded or positioned from a new vantage. That’s when I really began to appreciate and admire what PeopleFactors was doing. If I couldn’t out-think the test, my only other option was to be honest and answer each question as truthfully as I could. And that’s the point.

As I moved through each test, I found the questions to be exacting, demanding, and often illuminating. Many of my own responses surprised me. And the further I moved away from the idea that I could somehow manipulate my responses to produce a better “score”, the more attentive I became to my own opinions and preferences, and the more I enjoyed responding. I finished the personality test feeling certain that whatever my results revealed, they’d be a very accurate measurement of the person and employee that I am. I couldn’t wait to hear the feedback.

Two days later, I received both a comprehensive analysis report and a telephone call from one of PeopleFactors’ consultants. Together, we examined how my responses to the personality test shaped their findings and I found our conversation to be a helpful pairing to the conclusions made in the report. The consultant was kind and informative and explained how my skill sets and personal qualities might best be applied within an actual work environment. And I was correct – my results were a thoughtful and intimate reflection of who I really am.

The services PeopleFactors offers extend well beyond my assessment experience, but it’s easy to imagine the practicality and effectiveness of their products and services once applied to an entire team or workforce. The assessments themselves are a great tool to establish and maintain a successful organizational development structure and PeopleFactors should be considered experts at helping companies get there.

Thank you Sean Duffy for this wonderful write-up!

To take an assessment for yourself, dive into our on-demand service here.