Speaking from experience, there are few things as costly or damaging to an organization as making a bad hiring decision — and having to extricate yourself from it.  Along these lines, companies today go the extra mile to minimize their risk throughout the hiring process and ensure that the final candidate will not only “play nicely with others” but provide an adequate return on investment.  They do this by scheduling multiple rounds of interviews, checking references, demanding work samples, showing favoritism to word-of-mouth candidates, and lastly, by running candidates through a wider variety of personality tests and assessments than ever before.

Many job seekers, however, continue to be surprised when asked to complete such an assessment, and this step of the hiring process often leads to sudden surges of panic and anxiety.  Fortunately or unfortunately, if you’re a job applicant, there’s almost no way to anticipate when such testing will be administered, and it’s even more difficult to predict which test will be used since there are literally hundreds of them available to today’s recruiters and hiring managers.  We therefore recommend that you adopt a simple two-part strategy when personality testing rears its head in the interviewing process.  First, take a deep breath, relax, and don’t try to outsmart the system or test.  While we’d never go so far as to claim every test is infallible, or even reasonably valid, worse results are likely to happen if you try to outsmart the instrument and represent yourself as somebody you are not.  It does you little good to convince the employer that you’re an unabashed extrovert if, instead, the idea of making cold calls or attending professional networking events make you cringe!

Secondly, in preparation for these scenarios, we’d encourage you to have something interesting to say about the testing process itself.  If you’ve used these types of assessments in the past, in your own career or management experience, discuss the instrument(s) that were used and their relative effectiveness in making good hires.  Compare notes with the interviewer about their own experience with such tests and how they selected the particular tool they’ve currently adopted.  Do a little research on the tool, as well, to find out more about it, and display a genuine curiosity in finding out your results so that you can then discuss their implications with the interviewer in terms of work style, teamwork, and cultural fit.  While these steps are no guarantee that your assessment results will pass muster and meet the interviewer’s parameters, you’ll at least open the topic up to discussion and impress them (in most cases) with your shared interest in the goal of applying such information effectively.

Love it or hate it, employment-based testing is likely here to stay given the continued fear that employers of making a hasty or improper hiring decision.  If you’re interested in more details about the types of tests used today and how to deal with them, check out a great article available on the Ask the Headhunter site at by clicking here.