5 Things You Should Know About Those Dreaded Personality Tests

The following is a guest blog post by Mike Bunch, Managing Director, CTG Health Solutions’ Resource Management Team.

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the job interview. Everything is progressing smoothly – you’re feeling comfortable, answering all the questions thoughtfully, making a personal connection with the interviewer – and then it happens. The interviewer asks an “out of the blue” question. “Why is a manhole cover round (an actual Microsoft interview question)?” Or, they suddenly announce the hiring company requests that you take a brief “personality” test. Suddenly your jaw clenches, your palms start sweating and your vision blurs.

That is not an unusual reaction; however, as someone who has participated in a career lifetime of professional hiring I can assure you it’s a needless one. For hiring managers who believe in the value of personality tests – and their numbers are growing, especially in the home healthcare area – these are simply another way of gaining insight into the candidate’s identity and how they think.

Good hiring managers will use these odd questions and/or personality tests as one of many data points to determine whether the candidate is suited for the job they’re applying for, and where they might best fit into the organization. After all, someone who doesn’t relate well to other people is probably not going to be happy as a people manager, no matter how good their technical skill set.

To help set your mind at ease and keep your palms sweat-free the next time you are faced with a personality test or creative questions, here are a few pointers I’ve picked up over the years:

  1. It’s not about getting the answers “right.” If you’re asked an odd question, it isn’t so much about getting the right answer as it is showing how you get to the answer. Think about Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in the movie, The Intern. For their Google interview they’re asked how they would get out of a blender if shrunk down to miniature size. The actual answer doesn’t matter since even Google can’t do that (yet); it’s how the candidates process the answer that matters. The same goes with personality tests. Employers want to see if the “interview you” matches the real you.
  2. Answer the questions honestly. There may be a temptation to offer answers you believe the company wants to hear rather than what you really think. Don’t. There’s a reason the same questions are asked repeatedly in slightly different ways. It is best to relax and simply be yourself. If your personality is not suited to the position being recruited for, there may be another that better matches your qualifications.
  3. Companies aren’t looking for reasons not to hire you. Many people get nervous about these tests because they’re afraid the purpose is to eliminate candidates who don’t fit a particular profile. This widely held perception is far from reality. The employer’s agenda in using these types of interview techniques is about building a team that can successfully work together to accomplish great things – which usually requires a mix of personalities.
  4. It’s only one part of the hiring process. Another reason candidates get nervous about these tests is they believe companies put more weight on them than they do. These tests are designed to support the hiring process, not lead it. If a candidate has what it takes to do the job, the test will confirm it. If not, the test probably won’t matter.
  5. It helps with self-discovery. Use these opportunities to learn more about yourself. The process of taking the test can help one understand themselves better. This, in turn, will provide better direction in seeking out the types of jobs that best match your own qualifications.

Now that you know the real story, the next time you’re handed a personality test you can relax and take it with confidence. Oh, and one other tidbit – manhole covers are round so they don’t fall in.

Mike Bunch is Managing Director of the CTG Health Solutions’ Resource Management team. CTG Health Solutions is a solution provider dedicated solely to helping healthcare institutions, physician practices, and related organizations achieve clinical and financial goals through effective technology and business solutions. Mike and his team have filled more than 300 positions over the past two years. He can be reached at mike.bunch@ctghs.com.