The Caliper Profile was our favorite and the most useful to prepare for. It assesses 23 key personality traits and distills the data into a thorough, well-written report tailored to the specific job position you are applying for.
Personality tests are an increasingly popular way for employers to screen potential candidates and find the best fit for open positions. They give insights into your strengths and weaknesses, thinking styles and even leadership ability. Taking one can tell you a lot about which roles you’re best suited to and how you’re presenting yourself to potential employers. But there are dozens of tests out there, and it can be difficult to know which one will provide you with the most useful insights. We created this guide to the best personality tests for employment to help point you in the right direction.
We looked at 10 of the most popular pre-employment personality tests to determine which provided the most useful information. We took each of the exams and compared them based on the detail and accuracy of the results we received. We favored the companies that weave the data into an easily understandable narrative and offer specific insights into how an employee will perform in specific roles.
Each personality test is formulated slightly differently, so you may want to check out some others as well. Here is our full Caliper Assessment Preparation Guide, and for a deeper dive into career tests check out our Career Test Guide. Read our reviews below to learn more about four other popular tests.
The 5 Best Employment Personality Tests
These five personality tests are some of the most commonly employed by businesses for screening potential applicants. Each looks at slightly different traits and measures them in a different way, but they all provide helpful insights into your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses. Many of these personality tests are used as part of a pre-employment assessment by hiring managers. To better prepare, and learn more about each test, follow the links below.
The Other 5 Employment Personality Tests We Considered
If you don’t find anything you like with our top picks, you may want to look into one of these other employment personality tests.
- Big Five Personality Test
- Leadership Assessment
- NEO Personality Inventory
- Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment
How We Chose the Best Employment Personality Tests
To determine which personality tests are the most useful, we evaluated each one based on its report’s level of detail and the helpfulness of its insights as well as the test’s popularity.
We focused on the most popular employment personality tests for two reasons. First, these are the ones you are most likely to encounter if you are asked to complete a personality test as part of a job application. Second, because they are the most popular, these tests also have the most empirical research backing up their validity. More test takers also means more data that the creators can use to refine their methodology and make their reports even more useful.
In general, personality tests that measure more traits can provide more detailed results. We looked at the traits studied and the number and type of questions. We preferred questions with a scale (i.e., Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree) over simple true/false questions, and questions that require you to choose the statement that best fits your views are even better. These types of questions lead to more personalized results and ultimately, more useful insights.
A personality test that just tells you that you’re good with people isn’t very useful because it doesn’t give you any context. Sales and customer support positions, for example, both require interaction with consumers, but most employers would agree they require very different temperaments. Sales agents have to be charismatic and willing to take risks while being patient and understanding is more important if you’re working in customer support. A good personality test will give you specific information explaining how you work best and how your strengths and weaknesses may play out in a specific role. Some may also suggest follow-up questions based on your results, and you can use these to prepare yourself for upcoming interviews.
Full Reviews of the Best Employment Personality Tests
Caliper Profile Review
The Caliper Profile is one of the best-known pre-employment personality tests — and for good reason. This 180-question, multiple-choice test measures 23 key personality traits, including time management, assertiveness and leadership ability. These traits are considered in combination to paint a detailed picture of you as an employee. It pays particular attention to how your abilities and talents will impact your performance in a given role, so it’s an ideal tool for employers looking to fill a specific position — and for you, if you want to know how you stack up.
What to Expect
The Caliper Profile is an untimed test, but on average, it takes about two to three hours to complete. There are some true/false and scaled (Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree) questions, but the majority of the items present you with four statements and ask you to choose the one that most or least represents your view on an issue. Some of the questions may have multiple answers that you feel apply, but you can only pick one. In choosing a single statement over others, you reveal something not just about your abilities, but also your values.
This test also contains an abstract reasoning portion. These include number series, figural series, matrices and figural analogies. These are used to assess your critical thinking and problem-solving skills, so it’s important to take them seriously. If these types of questions aren’t your strong suit, you may want to practice with them before you take the exam as part of a job application.
Your profile report breaks down your results in four key areas: Leadership, Interpersonal Skills, Problem-Solving/Decision-Making and Personal Organization/Time Management. Each incorporates several of the 23 traits and combines the results into a succinct narrative. The report is tailored to your specific role and job level to provide the most accurate insights. At the end of the report, there is a summary to review key points and synthesize the information covered in each of the four main sections.
The 16 Personality Factors (16pf) questionnaire is another popular employment personality test with a lot of scientific research backing its validity. As its name implies, it examines 16 personality traits and ranks you in each of them based on your responses. Unlike the Caliper Profile, the 16pf test isn’t designed to predict your performance in a single job. Rather, it considers your strengths and weaknesses and indicates how these affect your overall professional effectiveness. It also suggests which types of jobs you are best suited for.
What to Expect
The 16pf test consists of 185 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete on a computer. It is not timed. Each question asks you to rate a statement, such as “I take charge of things,” on a five-point scale from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. Each answer has a corresponding point value, with Strongly Agree/Agree earning three points, Neither Agree Nor Disagree earning 2 points and Disagree/Strongly Disagree earning one point. These results are tallied and displayed in your report.
Your report shows how you did in each of the 16 traits, which include Warmth, Reasoning, Perfectionism and Rule-Consciousness. It also breaks these down into five categories: Relating to Others, Influence and Collaboration, Thinking Style, Structure and Flexibility, and Management of Pressure. For each section, you can see how you scored on each of the relevant traits as well as a detailed analysis of what your scores imply about your professional abilities and preferences.
The report also compares your skill set to those required in seven major career areas — Influencing, Organizing, Helping, Creating, Analyzing, Producing and Adventuring. You’ll get a brief description of each career area along with suggestions about which types best match your strengths and preferred work environment.
The OPQ32 is a versatile personality test that can be used to assess your fit for any position. It looks at 32 personality characteristics and condenses these into three main categories — Relationships, Thinking Style, and Feelings and Emotions. It uses your data to generate a series of concise paragraphs that sketch out how you prefer to work and interact with others. It’s popular among employers because it not only shares insights into your personality, it also rates you on how well you are likely to perform at common business tasks.
What to Expect
The OPQ32 is formatted like the Caliper Profile in that you are given a series of four statements and you must choose the one that is most or least like you. Several statements may apply, but you can only choose one. This enables the testing algorithm to determine not only how you think and work, but also what is most important to you. For example, you might feel that the statements “I am a team player” and “I am a leader” both apply to you, but by choosing leader over team player, you’re indicating a preference for leadership positions.
The test consists of a maximum of 104 questions. Yours may be a little shorter, depending on how you answer the earlier questions. When the algorithm feels it has a good idea of your personality, it generates a report. The 32 personality traits are broken down into eight scales — Influence, Sociability, Empathy, Analysis, Creativity and Change, Structure, Emotion, and Dynamism. Several traits are encompassed within each scale and the scales themselves are combined to make up each of the three key domains — Relationships, Thinking Style, and Feelings and Emotions.
The report shows how you scored on each individual trait and provides a detailed analysis of their interpretation. Employer reports also rank you on important business competencies, like organizing and networking. These results are displayed in a table with a ranking from 1 to 5 for each skill. If you know what skills are important for the role you are interested in, you can use this data to pinpoint any areas you may want to work on.
California Psychological Inventory
The California Psychological Inventory (CPI) is easily the largest exam on this list. The long version contains 434 questions designed to assess your personality on 29 scales, including sociability, self-control and independence. Results are detailed, but they are not synthesized into a narrative report. Instead, they’re listed as a series of bullet points. The information can still be useful this way, but it can be more difficult to see how the different traits interact with one another.
What to Expect
There are two versions of the CPI — the CPI 260 and the CPI 434. The number refers to the number of questions on the test. The CPI 434 focuses on all aspects of your work, including temperament, self-management and leadership potential, while the CPI 260 focuses more on interpersonal qualities, like how you deal with others. Questions are true/false, so they shouldn’t take too long to answer. Most people can complete the test within 45 to 60 minutes.
The exam measures your personality on 29 scales and uses that data to place you in one of four categories: Alpha (External, Norm-Favoring), Beta (Internal, Norm-Favoring), Gamma (External, Norm-Doubting) and Delta (Internal, Norm-Doubting). Your rating is listed on a XY graph so you can see how close you are to the other categories. Your scores for each of the 29 scales are also represented graphically. One chart shows how you compare to others of your gender and another chart shows how you measure up against all those who have taken the CPI.
For each of the scales, you are also given a series of statements which sum up your personality as it relates to that category. Seven of these scales — Managerial Potential, Work Organization, Creative Temperament, Leadership Potential, Amicability, Law Enforcement Orientation and Tough-Mindedness — are considered special scales. You receive a numbered score and a ranking of above average, average or below average in each one. The end of the report ranks a series of descriptions based on how well they apply to you. This information isn’t summed up in a narrative, however, so it’s left to you to determine what this information says about your fit for a certain position.
Hogan Personality Inventory Review
The Hogan Personality Inventory is a good fit if you’re looking for a short test to give you quick insights into your personality and professional abilities. It measures you on seven scales, each made up of a number of subscales. The reports don’t go into as much detail as the other tests on this list, but they provide some basic insights into your character in a series of short statements.
What to Expect
The test consist of 260 true/false and agree/disagree questions. Your answers give you points on the appropriate scale, and your total score is translated into a percentile rank for each category. The percentile rank indicates what percentage of test takers scored lower than you on that scale. For example, a 75th percentile rank indicates you scored higher than 75 percent of test takers on that scale, which gives you an above-average rating.
The seven scales are Adjustment, Ambition, Sociability, Interpersonal Sensitivity, Prudence, Inquisitiveness and Learning Approach. Each earns its own page in the report. It describes your characteristics based on your score in that category and it provides some discussion points employers may use as interview questions. Reviewing these can be helpful to you as well because they give you some idea of what to expect. Each scale also contains a number of subscales measuring individual traits like empathy, self-confidence and sensitivity. The report lists the number of questions that dealt with each subscale and indicates how many of those you answered affirmatively.
All of your results are summed up in the executive summary. This covers all the salient points in a short bulleted list. It pulls information from each of the seven scales and explains how these traits could affect your job performance. It is not designed to assess performance for an individual position, however, so you must determine how well your traits translate to a particular role.
Frequently Asked Questions about Employment Personality Tests
We’ve answered some of the most common questions about employment personality tests below to help you understand how they work and how they can affect your chances of gaining employment.
Why should I take an employment personality test?
There are two reasons you may want to take an employment personality test: for personal insights or to prepare for a job application.
Employment personality tests can tell you a lot about how you work best and what types of roles you’re suited for. For example, a high score in leadership suggests you may want to look into jobs that enable you to be in charge of a team. These tests can also help you pinpoint areas of professional development where you could stand to improve. If you score poorly on scales of organization and time management, this is a good indication that you may want to work on these skills a little more.
Preparing for a Job Application
An increasing number of employers are requiring candidates to take a personality test as part of the job application. Employers use this information to find the best fit for their open positions. Taking one of these personality tests before you are asked to do so as part of your application can show you how you’re presenting yourself to potential employers and what you can do to improve their impression of you.
This doesn’t mean you should lie about your answers, though. Most personality tests have a built-in validity scale to determine if you’re answering untruthfully. And even if you do manage to fool the test, you still have the interview and potentially the job to contend with. If you were hired under false pretenses, chances are, this will become very clear once you are in the role, and you may not hold the position very long.
How do employment personality tests work?
Employment personality tests use a series of questions to estimate your personal and professional capabilities. In the early days of personality testing, these tests sorted people into types — think the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Each person was assigned a category, and everyone in that category allegedly shares the same sort of personality. But more recent research suggests that personality is more complicated than a series of neat archetypes.
Most modern personality tests use a trait-based system instead of a type-based system. These tests give you individual ratings on a number of different trait scales, allowing for more personalized results. These traits are considered in conjunction to determine how you will perform in a professional setting. The best reports synthesize these results into a narrative, pulling in data from multiple categories to paint a complete picture of your personality.
The exact traits measured vary from one test to another, and employers choose tests carefully based on what they’re looking to measure. Most personality tests evaluate traits like leadership ability, interpersonal skills and personal management skills. They also look at your temperament and how you think and solve problems. The relative importance of each of these traits varies, depending on the role you’re applying for. Interpersonal skills are going to be much more important for a management position than they are for someone who works fairly independently. Often, you can estimate which skills will be most important just by thinking about the role and the tasks you’ll be required to perform.
How do businesses use employment personality tests?
Businesses are becoming increasingly concerned with hiring smarter and minimizing turnover. A candidate may have all the qualifications to be a great manager, but if they are too timid to take charge, they won’t do well in that role. Then, the employer must find and train a new person for that position. A personality test eliminates some of this trial and error by assessing candidates’ skills and temperaments to determine which would be the best fit for an open position.
The employer reviews the results and compares them to the skills and duties that are required of someone in that role. Any candidates who don’t appear to match what the employer is looking for will be eliminated from the running. These tests often serve as a useful weeding-out tool for companies who receive dozens or even hundreds of applications. Candidates that fit the desired criteria will proceed to the more advanced stages of the application process.
Some personality tests also provide employers with a set of targeted interview questions based off a candidate’s results. These help companies get the most out of interviews and address any areas of concern that came up in the personality test. The end result is that by the time a candidate is hired, the employer can feel relatively confident that that person will perform their work competently and remain in that position for a long time to come.