Can Your Personality Get You Hired or Fired?

  • I have a natural talent for influencing people.
  • I always see to it that my work is carefully planned and organized.
  • People often expect too much of me.
  • It is hard for me to just sit still and relax.
  • The idea of doing research appeals to me.
  • I enjoy hearing lectures on work affairs.
  • I read at least 10 books a year.
  • I always try to consider the other person's feelings before I do something.
  • I like parties and socials.

As you can see from the examples, it's impossible to paint a picture of someone based on just a few answers, which is why so-called mini assessments have absolutely no value. However, when you've answered a comprehensive assessment featuring multiple questions on similar topics, a pattern of strengths and styles will emerge. Sophisticated scoring systems are used to generate meaningful results, and certified interpreters are able to tell you what it all means and how to apply it to your career development.

'Faking Good'

Many people are quick to ask if it's possible to cheat or beat the assessments. The answer is no. In fact, the CPI has a built-in mechanism designed to catch a test-taker who is trying to do what's called faking good. By this I mean people who take every opportunity to paint themselves in an exceptionally positive light will likely be flagged. One true/false question along these lines is: "I have never deliberately told a lie."

There are 25 questions that revolved around the same issue, and they are designed to get your honest answer, not just what you think makes you sound the best or most truthful. If you appear to be too good to be true, you'll likely be flagged by the test administrator.

It's best to be honest -- not only for the employer's sake but really for yours too. Be true to yourself. If you don't get the job because of it, there's a good chance you wouldn't have been a good fit, and it's a blessing to know that before an offer is made.

A Critical Concern

The biggest criticism of personality tests stems from a fear that employers rely too heavily on them in making decisions. But every employer and interpreter I spoke to emphasized the importance of using these assessments as only one part of the decision-making process.

Think of it in terms of the SAT for college admittance. A student is so much more than a simple SAT score. The best colleges make decisions based on GPA, course loads, the high school profile, essays, recommendations and more, including the SAT score.

The same is true in hiring: Assessments are only one piece of a much more comprehensive process that includes interviews, role playing, recommendations and more. If you're asked to take a personality test by a prospective employer, ask how it will be used in the overall hiring process, and confirm that the information stays confidential.

If you're passed over for a position and you believe it's because of your personality assessments, don't panic. Since assessments are specific to an individual employer and are measured against the position you're applying for and the company's culture and needs, the results do not follow you from position to position. Getting fired from a job sticks with your employment record, but these assessments do not.

To connect directly with Tory Johnson, visit

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