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Is it possible to ‘Fail’ a Personality Test?

Sue Arkle doesn't think so, but there are many who do, especially those who are asked to take one!

Doesn't the word ‘test’ have negative connotations from our school days and beyond? I know it does for me, including the dreaded driving test which I had to put myself through more than once!

The driving test though is black and white in that I knew what I had to do to pass, in common with most other tests. Personality tests however are about discovering our preferences and they are neither right nor wrong, they are just preferences.

By referring to it as a test therefore we can already be in the mindset of passing or failing before we get to the interview stage. If we don’t subsequently get the job it’s understandable to want to put the blame on something but it doesn’t do much for our confidence if we feel that the problem was our personality.

A personality tool is like any other tool – neither inherently good nor bad. However there is room for improvement in how it is used.

The Psychology of Recruitment

How many recruiters understand their objectives?

For example do they want...

  • Someone like the person who has just left?
  • find the best sales person?
  • to reduce staff turnover?
  • to increase sales?
  • to reduce complaints and returns?
  • Something else?

These are all perfectly legitimate objectives but if an employer isn’t clear about them the recruitment process is unlikely to have a positive outcome.

Ultimately all employers want to have the right people in the right job. An understanding of their objectives and the work environment they are offering will give them a better chance of success because they know who they are looking for.

Does the work environment matter?

Yes it does. I, like many others I’m sure, have experienced that feeling of being a square peg in a round hole. What about the following scenarios – are any of them familiar?

  • the culture of the organisation which is in conflict with our values
  • the manager who doesn't know how to deal with people issues.
  • the team we’re a member of
  • the appraisal system
  • a feeling that we are not valued
  • the ways in which we are rewarded or motivated (or not)

All of these are affected by our personal preferences.

The work environment also has a personality. Look at the difference in culture between a telesales team and a customer services team. One is fast paced and very dynamic and the other has to be more empathetic. A telesales professional would probably not be a good fit for a customer service role even though they could do the job. The challenge for them would be the conflict with their natural preferences day in and day out which over time can be quite stressful.

In summary, there are no good or bad personalities – no tests to pass or fail. There is the right personality for the job which is much easier to find when employers understand both their objectives and the work environment they are offering.

Sue’s Arkle’s mission is to help businesses enjoy greater success by utilising the one asset they all have in common, their people. Sue believes that many of the problems we face arise from a lack of understanding of how people naturally behave. She has always been fascinated by how we interact with each other and has a keen interest in psychotherapy, particularly CBT and Transactional Analysis. She reads and researches endlessly on the many and varied ways of understanding human motivation and behaviour.

Try a personality assessment for free today, visit:

And ask me about our unique Work Environment Analyser

T: 01425 280535
M: 07918 705251

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