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What is a personality assessment? Why do employers use personality tests? How to ace personality assessments? If these are questions on your mind, then look no further than this guide.

In this article we highlight the role of personality assessments and why companies use them, and how you can nail these assessments for your job application. We also provide in-depth information on the science behind personality questionnaires.

Ready to understand personality questionnaires for top employers? Practice using our Work Personality Questionnaire with us today to prepare with our scientifically validated practice assessment tests to help you get your job, first time.

Not sure if you should practice to prepare for your personality questionnaire? According to research, 60-80% of candidates are rejected based on their aptitude tests results. It is proven that practice increases your chances of getting hired.

A recent study found that candidates who do not practise assessments, tend to fail at the first hurdle of psychometric assessments (54%-84%). This study looked at the Top 100 global employers.

Bradley et al. (2019)

Let’s get started!


  1. What is a Personality Assessment?
  2. Which Employers use Personality Assessments?
  3. The Science Behind Personality Tests
  4. What Types of Personality Questionnaires Are Used by Employers?
  5. How to Ace Personality Assessments?
  6. Personality Questionnaire FAQs

What is a Personality Assessment?

Personality assessments are used to determine how you ‘fit’ for the job and are frequently used to predict how likely employees will stay in a role. Read on to learn why many employers use these to help screen and select job applicants.

Did you know? A good fit to the role means you are more likely to be happier, perform better and stay longer. It’s good for you and it’s good for the employer.

Personality Questionnaires In a Nutshell

  • Personality assessment tests are often questionnaires with options to agree or disagree on a scale of 3-5 in response to behavioral statements
  • Personality questionnaires do not aim to measure your ability, but your preferences in the workplace
  • Unlike aptitude tests, there are no correct or incorrect answers in personality assessments
  • Personality questionnaires are best described as measures of ‘typical’ performance as they tend to determine how one behaves typically, across a range of situations
  • Employers will typically interview to investigate workplace personality tests to identify any areas where there may be a discrepancy between your personality and the profile they are looking for
  • Around 20-32% of hiring managers use personality assessment tests to hire (Society for Human Resource Management, 2017)
  • The Big 5 is the most well-known and well-established personality model; it is the same model that supports assessments including the SHL OPQ, Hogan’s HPI, HEXACO

Did you know? Our Work Personality Questionnaire (WPQ) is also based on the theory behind the Big 5 model and helps to prepare for these personality assessments, such as the SHL OPQ.

  • It is critical to respond as truthfully as possible to personality assessment tests, as employers can often see if you are trying to present yourself more favourably

Workplace Personality Test Example

Workplace personality test example

Did you know? Some employers may not allow you to retake a work personality test until after 12-18 months, where changes in professional or personal circumstances may affect your test result. The general consensus from research suggests that personality remains the same over time.

So what employers should we expect to use a work personality test during our application process? Keep reading to find out!

Which Employers use Personality Assessments?

Personality profiling tests for recruitment are being employed by most major corporations to assist in accelerating the recruiting process and to find the best fit employee for the role. These are often used for the following roles and industries to ensure the candidate is a good fit:

IndustryRoles where work personality tests are an effective assessment
FinanceFinancial analysts, bankers, and traders
RetailCustomer support, management, delivery and stock handling 
EngineeringEngineering administration, engineering specialists and operations manager
ConsultingManagement consultants, business analysts, and project managers
Public SectorGovernment administrators, police officers, civil servants amd consultants

Some of the top employers from these industries include:

Did you know? The P&G Peak Performance evaluation combines a Situational Judgment Test with a personality assessment test. This is used to understand a candidate’s perspectives, desires and attitudes at work. Get the practice Essentials with our WPQ and practice SJT assessments designed by our experts to help prepare you for your P&G assessments.

How do personality tests benefit employers?

Companies and hiring managers seek recruitment assessments and tools that help to understand and predict how a candidate will perform on the job. Personality questionnaires provide recruiters with an insight into a candidate’s workplace preferences and motivations, allowing recruiters to pick the candidate that best suits the job.

So how do employers use personality assessments to help find a good fit for the role? Continue reading to find out!

How Employers use Personality Questionnaires to Hire

Employers use personality assessment tests to find the best fit for the role and company by assessing personality based on the skills and capabilities required for the role. Companies aim to find the candidate that best matches the workplace culture to improve employee retention and gain from improved performance, making hiring more cost-effective.

What is HR looking for? Work personality tests are often a good predictor of the candidate’s performance during the role, such as their decision-making skills, organisation and attention to detail.

Similarly, personality assessments are useful for determining whether the role and company is the best fit for the candidate. The candidate can use the personality assessment test to assess whether the role outlined in the job description matches their individual workstyle and fits as part of their short and long-term career goals.

Our video below explains how employers use personality questionnaires and how you can present your best self: 

How Employers use Personality Questionnaires to Hire | 2024 Guide | PwC, Barclays, Apple, P&G

Continue reading as we dive in further to why employers use personality tests and give the lowdown on why personality assessment tests are commonly used by recruiters.

The Science Behind Personality Tests

Understanding the theory is key to uncovering exactly how your personality is likely to be used to measure your workplace preferences during a work personality test. 

Personality as a factor of recruitment has been tested as far back as the 18th century. Since then, many key theories have been discussed, developed and refined to good measure of workplace personality and to predict workplace performance of candidates.

Who developed the first personality test?

Personality testing was first used by the United States Army in World War I to attempt to anticipate which soldiers would struggle from “shell shock,” and it is now a $500 million industry.

E. Harrell (2017)

During the 1940s, the 16 personality factor questionnaire was developed by Cattell, Eber and Tatsuoka to collect data for recruiters to better understand a candidate’s personality and behaviours in the workplace. The16 key personality factors employers measure are:

WarmthReasoningEmotional StabilityRule-Conscious
Social BoldnessDominanceSensitivityApprehension
Openness to ChangeSelf-ReliancePerfectionismThoughtfulness
Work personality test

Further to this, 5 high-order factors of personality have emerged from these decades of research and have become accepted as a standard, known as the Five Factors Model or the Big 5 Model. The SHL OPQ, used by thousands of employers, makes use of the Big 5 Model for finding the best fit candidate for the job.

What is the Big 5 Model?

The Big 5 Model, otherwise known as OCEAN model or the Five Factor model, assesses a candidate’s personality across 5 main personality traits. These personality traits are:

  • Openness – Ability and willingness to experience new things. These candidates are more creative and enjoy a variety of interests.
  • Conscientiousness – More conscientious candidates prefer to be more organised, plan ahead and have higher attention to detail, though may be more resistant to change.
  • Extraversion – Extraverted candidates are more energetic and outgoing with other people. Does the candidate prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
  • Agreeableness – The compassion and friendliness the candidate demonstrates at the workplace.
  • Neuroticism – The emotional stability of the candidate. Are they more anxious and stressed under pressure or more calm and relaxed?

As well as the Big 5 Model and 16PF, employers may instead make use of the MBTI to assess your workplace preferences. This personality tool is based on the theory of Carl Jung.

What is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)?

Designed by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, the MBTI is used to identify candidates under one of 16 different personality types, which is determined by 4 unique scales. These scales are:

  1. Introversion vs Extraversion
  2. Thinking vs Feeling
  3. Intuition vs Sense
  4. Judgement vs Perception

Employers then can use the results of the work personality tests to help make decisions on hiring based on whether the personality type matches the requirements of the role and the culture at the company. However, there have been many ethical issues raised regarding the use of this test as a tool for recruitment.

Similarly to the Big 5 Model, candidates will be required to answer a series of questions where they will select whether they agree or disagree to an extent.

Did you know? Whilst the MBTI personality test is used by many companies, the Big 5 Model of personality is the most popular and scientifically credible style of personality test used in employer recruitment processes. Our Work Personality Questionnaire (WPQ) uses the Big 5 factors to help prepare you for your Big 5 workplace personality test.

One of the key differences between the MBTI and the Big 5 Model is that the MBTI uses a collection of traits to classify a candidate into a broad personality type, whereas the Big 5 Model focussed on the strengths of each personality trait. Each personality trait has been found to be independent of each other and can vary per candidate.

Discover more about the Psychology behind a Personality Questionnaire with this short video below:

The Psychology behind a Personality Questionnaire #shorts

What Types of Personality Questionnaires Are Used by Employers?

Employers often use personality assessments provided by recruitment and psychometric test publishers. There are currently over 2,000 types of work personality tests available for recruiters, however here are the main personality tests that are most commonly used by employers:

  1. SHL OPQ: Is used by employers to measure candidates in 32 dimensions across 3 key areas of thinking style, emotions and relationships with others in the workplace.
  1. DISC: Measures the Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance of the candidate through 28 multiple choice statements with 4 options each.
  1. MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator): Identifies the candidate under one of 16 personality types using up to over 130 questions.
  1. AON Adept-15: This measures a candidate’s personality across 15 aspects and 6 key workstyle based on their answers to 100 questions.
  1. The Caliper Profile: Made to reflect the job model, this can measure over 280 behaviours, 56 competencies and 21 personality traits using up to 100 questions.
  1. Hogan HPI: Similar to the OPQ, this assessment uses 220 questions to measure 7 key areas and 6 occupational areas.
  1. 16 Personality Factor: The 16PF analyses the candidate’s workplace personality through their responses to 185 everyday statements.
  1. HEXACO: Candidates are given over 100 prompts across 6 main personality areas similar to the SHL OPQ.

Our WPQ personality questionnaire has been developed by former SHL consultants who have years of experience in designing and developing psychometric assessments and is useful for preparing for the:

  • Hogan HPI
  • AON Adept-15

Good to know: Gain a personalised feedback report from our WPQ which provides insights and analysis into your personality traits and a breakdown of how employers will use these reports to help make a decision to hire.

Work personality profile
Work Personality Profile

Did you know? Personality tools are referred to as survey questions and inventories by major test publishers including SHL. Our work personality questionnaire (WPQ) was developed and tested by former SHL experts to help you prepare for personality tools including the SHL OPQ used by top employers.

How to Ace Personality Assessments?

Check out our top 5 tips below that you can use to prepare and pass your employer personality test:

  1. Respond to the questions and statements honestly so that the results reflect your true preferences.
  1. Read all of the information provided before you begin the assessment.
  1. Answer based on your gut feel and not what you think the recruiter is looking for, as this may come across as dishonest and can be flagged up in personality tests.
  1. Practice personality questionnaires beforehand to become acquainted with the common format of these personality tests.
  1. Gain insights into your own workplace personality to help find the best job for you.

For optimal personality preparation, practice using our WPQ personality questionnaire developed by former SHL consultants and gain insights with your FREE personalized feedback report to discover what employers are looking for.

Discover even more tips on how you can pass a personality questionnaires in this short video:

How to Pass Personality Questionnaires (5 Personality Test Tips) #shorts

Unlock even further answers to the most commonly asked questions about personality questionnaires with these FAQs below!

Personality Questionnaire FAQs

What is a Personality Assessment?

Personality assessment tests aim to identify an individual’s ‘fit’ for a job and the company culture. They can also be used to predict retention rates and therefore employers tend to use these often as a tool alongside tests and interviews to make hiring decisions.

How to pass a Personality Assessment?

As there are no right or wrong answers, you cannot fail the assessment. Personality questionnaires are a determination of your strengths and weaknesses. The best approach to completing your personality test is to answer honestly and understand your work preferences.

Are personality tests reliable?

Personality tests are used for hiring by over 80% of the overall Fortune 500 firms. Whilst some personality tests find that behaviours and personality are fixed, many still have been found to be accurate in evaluating personality traits in the job-related context.

What to expect from Personality Assessments?

Personality tests contain around 100 character-evaluation statements to understand a candidate’s personality for the context of workplace scenarios. The majority of personality assessment tests cover various key workplace personality traits using agreeability scales such as ‘Strongly Agree’ to ‘Strongly Disagree’ or which sounds ‘Most like them’.

What are employers looking for in personality assessments?

Personality tests help examine factors of a candidate’s personality and interpersonal skills, such as:

  • Effective Communication
  • Flexibility
  • Time Management
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Problem Solving Approach
  • Motivations
  • Team Working

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