How to pass a personality test and common questions on faking assessments

January 20, 2017

How to pass a personality test and common questions on faking assessments

By Drew Fortin January 20, 2017


Thinking about gaming the system? What you need to know before faking a personality test.

You just applied for a job and you’ve been asked to take a personality test or other pre-employment assessment. Questions immediately start rushing through your head. Is this going to be hard? What if the results are not truly me? What are they are looking for? What if I fail or they decide not to consider me because of my results? Are they going to find out I’m crazy?

Although deciding to drop out of the application process for fear of candidate rejection and limiting your job search to employers who don’t use personality assessments may seem like an option, it’s ill-advised. Bottom line, the continued proliferation of pre-employment assessments, including personality tests, in the hiring process of businesses big and small is imminent.

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How do you pass a personality test?

Employers use personality tests or behavioral assessments during their hiring process to help prioritize their list of candidates or guide a structured interview process. They are ultimately trying to predict if your behavior is a good fit for a specific role or broader workplace culture. Some assessment providers offer recommendations that essentially equate to pass or fail. However, the best assessments aim to give employers objective data so they can make more educated decisions and ultimately better understand who they are hiring. For instance, at The Predictive Index (PI) we recommend that our clients use assessments as one factor alongside their credentials, interview(s), and references when making hiring decisions. Simply put, there really is no “pass” or “fail.”

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As a job candidate, it’s perfectly acceptable and recommended that you ask the employer questions related to the workplace culture or specific role that will give you a sense of the behaviors they are looking for. Regardless of whether assessments are involved, asking these questions will help you better understand if you think the job is worth going after. It will also show the employer that you are truly interested in finding a good fit for all.

fake a personality test-1.jpgCan you fake a personality test?

As with any workforce assessment or test, there are usually ways to game the system if you know enough about how the test is built or the desired outcome. And although there is much disagreement among researchers and the testing community as to how these tests can be gamed, or faked, and to what extent, it is no secret that it can and does happen.

Are some personality tests harder to game than others?

Yes. You’ll find that, for the most part, personality tests or behavioral assessments used for candidate selection and hiring are either forced-choice (think multiple choice or Likert scale)—which force you to select an answer—or free-choice. Forced-choice personality assessments are usually long, sometimes over one-hundred questions, and can seem redundant as multiple questions are usually asked to increase the assessment’s ability to accurately predict your personality and decrease your ability to game them.

Free-choice assessments, like the PI Behavioral Assessment, give you the freedom to select as many or as little behavioral descriptor items as you wish based on your own perception and preference. Since you are presented with multiple options when responding to a free-choice assessment question, what you select, what you don’t select, and how many total options you select all play into the results.

The stimulus-response experience provided by free-choice assessments, including the PI Behavioral Assessment, means that free-choice assessments are arguably more difficult to cheat than many forced-choice assessments. Even if you try to game them by selecting options that portray what you think the employer is looking for, your selections are still based on your own perceptions which likely vary from the employer’s.

Note: Some assessments may not be validated for candidate selection and hiring. The Predictive Index prides itself on offering assessments validated across the hire to retire lifecycle. Read more on assessment validity.

How to fake a personality test.

Preparing to fake a personality test may not seem difficult. Read the company website. Check out their social media posts. Study the job description and even see if you can talk to someone who works at the company to get a better understanding of the culture. Once you have that information, pretend you’re already one of their employees and take the test. Faking a different type of test, like a cognitive ability assessment or a skills test, for example, will obviously be a little more difficult. On these tests there are right and wrong answers, and so “faking” can only be done by having another person help or take the assessment for you (this won’t help on a personality test!). To be more secure, some employers may require you to take the assessment on premise under supervision to avoid any form of cheating, so be careful.

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Should you fake an assessment?

You took the test and now you were invited back to continue interviewing—or perhaps this was the last stage of the interviewing process and you were offered a job. Yay! You passed the test. Now what? Well, now you don’t know if the employer accepted you because of your amazing dishonest results, or maybe your attempt to fake the test was foiled and the results are accurate. Regardless, you likely have no way to be sure and you may find yourself second guessing your decision.

Landing a job because of your faked personality test results is nothing short of self-sabotage.

If you find yourself in this position, you may not be a behavioral fit for the role. Sure, learning how to adapt your behavior and step out of your comfort zone when necessary is a good trait. However, having to adapt your behavior for an indefinite time period can make you feel excessively stressed or anxious – ultimately leading to burnout since you may never be able to operate as yourself.

Employment is a true bond between employer and employee. It only works if they need you as much as you need them. Think about it this way. Showing them your personality will provide insight into whether you are able to fulfill the behavioral or cognitive demands of the job.

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Rule #1 when taking a personality test – be yourself.

The last thing you want is to be in a role that you are not a good fit for in the first place. If you game the test, you’re gaming yourself. The best advice for taking a personality test is to not overthink it and be yourself. And, regardless of the outcome, don’t be afraid to ask for the results. Although the employer may not be obligated to show you, if you do get your hands on them, you will gain a little self-awareness.


  1. John says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview, your comment will be visible after it has been approved.

    There are no constant variables in human action. This is why the methods of the natural sciences should not be applied to the social sciences, and never will be successfully. It is not possible to measure personality with tests such as this. People are constantly learning-they are not like rocks in a lab you can run chemical tests on with same conditions in each test. Personality tests continue to do a lot of damage to our economy and labor force, they should be outlawed in the view of many.

  2. Shannon ,
    Who the hell are the “others” and why do they expect me to act in a certain way? Are they people I have known for a long time and they are expecting me to act in a manner because they have seen me act that way? Maybe they are people who know me well and expect me to act in a manner because that is what they need to me be to them. For example my wife has totally different needs from me than my employer, and me kids have altogether other needs. I play a variety of roles for a variety of reasons, and each role has its own intrinsic set of expectations. Maybe the others are people who haven’t known me as long and are expecting me to act a certain way because of the role they have placed me in or how they have perceived me from appearance or limited interactions. I can answer the second half of the assessment relatively honestly but the “others” section is a total mystery. Many people have had a lot of roles throughout their life, which roles are most relevant?

    Also, please explain how the results are interpreted in terms of the “others perceive” vs. “own perception”. If there is a wide difference here does it indicate poor self-awareness or is it actually heightened self-awareness. Maybe it just means they ‘fit’ poorly in relation to whoever it is that they perceive as the ‘others’. If we don’t know who the “others” are the entire exercise is meaningless to all involved.

    1. Hi Ike! Great question! The “others” can be just about anyone. I know that seems strange, but there is a psychological reason for this. This aspect of the design of the PI Behavioral Assessment references work by psychologist Frederic Kuder, who observed that open-ended prompts can yield responses that characterize the respondent’s attitude. This is leveraged on the PI Behavioral Assessment’s Self-Concept checklist (the first question), where respondents are asked to select adjectives that reflect how they are perceived by others, but the respondent is left to make his or her own interpretation about who those others may be (e.g., coworkers, clients, friends, family, managers, neighbors). Thus, the use of unspecific stems and solitary adjectives in a free-choice format supports an unconscious projective response that reflects the respondent’s own perceptions of the major drivers of his or her self-concept. There is an operational reason too, since becoming too specific might exclude some people. For example, we cannot assume that everyone has family or coworkers or partners at the time of the administration.

      The purpose of having two separate sections (Self and Self-Concept) on the PI Behavioral Assessment checklist is to assess an individual’s response and his or her adjustment to the two different sets of environmental stimuli to which they feel that they have been and continue to be exposed: the individual’s own needs and the perceived demands of his or her environment. This important duality between one’s self and one’s social environment was clearly explicated early on by Prescott Lecky as part of his self-consistency theory of personality, as well as by Hadley Cantril. Donald MacKinnon had a different, yet similar theory, suggesting that personality has two conceptually distinct definitions. MacKinnon argued that, when used one way, personality refers to the distinctive and unique impression that one makes on others. This perspective refers to personality from the viewpoint of the observer, and is functionally equivalent to a person’s reputation. Used in a second way, personality refers to the structures inside of a person that are useful in explaining why a person creates a particular impression on others. However, it was Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers were two of the first psychologists to establish the notion of self-concept that is reflected by the Self-Concept domain on the PI Behavioral Assessment. According to Rogers, everyone strives to reach an “ideal self,” and he hypothesized that psychologically healthy people actively move away from roles created by others’ expectations, and instead look within themselves for validation.

      It is these lines of theory that form the basis of asking respondents to describe themselves in both the Self and Self-Concept domains. Users can review how respondents see themselves and compare this to how they perceive the demands of their environment. Factor score differences between the Self and the Self-Concept domains may provide an indication of whether or not one sees goals of value in his or her social-work environment and how much behavioral adaptation is needed between the respondent’s internal behavioral drives and the perceived demands of the environment. However, given the topic of this blog, it is important to underscore that the Self-Concept domain is not used for hiring and selection decisions. Users make hiring decisions based on the Self domain scores only (Self-Concept score are used for coaching and change management applications, for which they are validated).

    2. Hey Ike!

      Thanks for your comment and questions.

      In this case, “others” would refer to the people you work with. How does your boss expect you to behave at work? What do your colleagues expect from you? For example, some people in public- or client-facing roles may feel the need to be more extraverted/friendly than those with more heads-down positions.

      In the case of the first portion of the PI Behavioral Assessment, users should consider their current or most recent employment. So it would be your current or most recent employer and/or work team. What did they expect from you, behaviorally speaking?

      When it comes to interpreting the results, the primary use case for the “others perceive” section is to determine any misalignment with how you’re naturally wired (self-perception) vs. how you think you’re supposed to behave/how others expect you to behave.

      For example, the main difference between my self-concept and my “how others perceive me” chart is a higher score for dominance. In that instance, someone might look at the difference and say, “The data tells me you might feel a need to be more assertive than you’re naturally wired to be. Can you tell me a bit about that?” In which case I might respond by saying, “Sure. In my last work environment, there were no clear project leads so I constantly felt like I had to step up and be in charge to make sure things were done on time.”

      If there’s a wide difference, it could indicate that an employee is NOT a behavioral fit for the role they’re in OR they perceive a need to be something they’re not in order to get the job done. In either case, a conversation would be warranted to better understand the disconnect and see if it’s true misalignment with a role or if expectations need to be shifted so employees don’t feel they have to constantly stretch to meet the needs of the role.

      Does that make sense?

      1. Shannon, thank you. Your example of the perceived vs. self-perception variance in dominance behaviors made it clear as to why there would be a difference in behavior while in a similar career.

  3. As an autistic person, I find that I fail these very consistently. I’ve tried being myself (fail) and answering honestly, as well as answering in the way I think I might be expected to answer. Small or large company, even for the type of work I’ve done before (sans test) …it’s always a fail.

    1. Hi Shannon,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. People can’t “fail” the PI Behavioral Assessment. It’s not a pass/fail test. Think of it as matchmaking! While you might not be a strong fit for role A, you could be an excellent fit for role B. For example, if I was taking the behavioral assessment for an outbound sales role, it wouldn’t be a match. But if I took the same assessment for a role that’s a better fit for my personality, it would be a match. Hope that helps!


  4. The predictive index may (or may not) describe a person’s personality but does not predict success. It is a tool that allows employers to hire people like themselves (or at least how they want to see themselves) and as such stifles creativity and diversity of thought. It also allows HR departments to shrink the talent pool with a stroke of the pen so they can eliminate prospects easily. It completely ignores talent, skills, intellect and most of all adaptability. I understand that hiring the right person is a lot of work but using this as a shortcut has the potential of producing a company that are all clones of the hiring manager. The index could be a very useful tool if used to help employees gain a greater understanding of their personality and how it affects their work but it should never be used in the hiring process.

    1. Hey David!

      Thanks for taking the time to visit our site and leave a comment. The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment has actually been scientifically validated over 350 times, including by other parties and review sources.

      If you check out our ultimate guide to talent optimization (you can find it at, you’ll see we don’t advocate for a “one-pattern-fits-all” kind of workplace. We definitely believe in diversity of thought and experience—which includes diversity of personality.

      I’d also encourage you to check back next week. We’re publishing a blog written by a woman who was actually able to get a job BECAUSE OF assessments. The goal here is to simultaneously widen and decrease the size of the hiring pool. We widen it by looking for cognitive and behavioral match, rather than simply education and work history, and we decrease it by looking for people who are the right fit.

      Hope this information is helpful!

  5. Hello. I’ve read many of the posts on this blog, and I believe that PI tests have a place in our society, and that it may be good for some large-scale organizations, those that have to address hundreds of potential employees, versus smaller companies who may only be looking for a few good people. That said, I believe that since we are the dominant species on this planet, because of our ability to adapt, and recall our adaptive changes, we should not be categorized as to how well we would ‘fit’ in a job position, rather, it should be a question of are we willing to adopt the diversity that is a part of every job environment. I’ve read that there were many instances of Employers hiring the ‘wrong’ candidate, and of people who were passed over, who may be a good match. It may be due to ignorance on the part of the company, or that the HR department doesn’t have a full understanding of the dynamics of these behavior assessments. It may also be that those departments in question at the time needed to meet a deadline, whereas a certain number of people had to be verified as having taken the assessment; please do not misunderstand, I am not wholly condoning the validity of the assessment: I’m suggesting that timing and incomplete information on the part of the Company is a major factor in why a lot of good people are passed over. I believe some organizations can benefit by using this assessment, while some Companies should stay with the old methods in the hiring process. I see these assessments as a challenge to step outside of myself; to discover how adaptive can I be, in terms of being sociable and professional simultaneously. I am a post-war veteran, who has seen the extreme affects of personality and behavior in people, yet at the same time, I also have seen how these effects can be hidden, in order to give the impression that they are adaptable to any job environment. My thought is that we are driven, in part, by our need to improve ourselves, and the side affect is that we lose a part of our ‘natural’, or ‘wired’ make-up, sometimes without realizing it. Again, this is only my opinion, and I apologize if I’ve offended anyone.

    1. Hi Glenn!

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. For sure, human beings can be adaptive (some people maybe more so than others). That said, the science tells us that behavioral fit plays a role in predicting job success, as well as employee engagement. While we might be able to stretch to fill a role, ultimately it’s not as fulfilling as being in a position you feel like was made for you because it’s a behavioral match.

      We actually don’t typically work with really large companies. We work more with mid-sized businesses that are growing and hiring a lot of people. Those are the situations in which making a quick (and wrong) hire is most likely to occur, so incorporating science into the hiring process helps to improve the chances of an employee’s success in a given role and the likelihood that they’ll stay longer term.

      Also wanted to make sure you know we’re not offended over here! We believe strongly in our product because we’ve seen how it’s helped people reduce turnover and improve employee engagement, but we also know that assessments have been misused and become a real negative part of the candidate experience at some companies.

  6. Actually, this doesn’t make sense. Let’s take the “social” as an example. My work expects me to be social when i t comes to organizational functions. Show up, introduce my wife, have a cocktail. I can do this with ease. Be social with a client by entertaining them? An absolute joy! Yet, my family wants me to be social. I really don’t enjoy the alcoholic arguing that it eventually goes to so I usually avoid. Then there is the aspect that I like my time with my wife and kids, so I usually spend my free time with them and don’t socialize with coworkers, friends, or family as often as they like. So… is it expected I’m social? Yes. Do I consider myself social when I turn down requests to spend more time with my children? No. so how does this end up being an accurate evaluation for an employer? Do I game the question? Do I answer based on my “feelings?” Do I only think of it from an employees perspective? I am many things to many people. Being social is different from my employer, to my family, to my friends, to my wife and to my children. So whose expectation are we answering for? In what scenario answers who I am? Its just too generic of a question is all.

    1. Hey Nick!

      Thanks for sharing a thoughtful response. You pose some good questions! I’ll do my best to address them. 🙂

      For the PI Behavioral Assessment, there are two parts: The first will ask you how you think others expect you to act. Not just in general, but specifically in your role at work. The second is what you believe to be true about yourself.

      It sounds like, from what you’re describing about your work environment, that your organization does expect you to be social. So, if you’d prefer to eat lunch alone, but everyone else is like, “Nick, come have lunch with us,” that could be considered an expectation to be social.

      When it comes to your own preference, I would look at it like this: Do you enjoy social gatherings? Do you like to work with others? It’s totally okay if the answer to either of those is “no.” The reality is that not everyone is social. Some people prefer to work alone—and there some environments in which that’s acceptable (think: engineers, accountants, etc.). What the assessment is looking for is how you prefer to work. The reason being that we don’t want people to be in jobs they don’t love. Case in point: My husband is a personal trainer. He’s a great personal trainer and great with people but he often comes home exhausted. Why? He has a low degree of extraversion. He prefers working alone, but he’s around people all day. Hence the exhaustion. Employers who use behavioral assessments want to know, “Is this person wired to do this job well and enjoy doing it?” Because most of us can push ourselves and be something we’re not, but we’re not going to enjoy it.

      Hope that helps/makes sense!

      1. The statement “naturally wired” seems to pop up a lot in your dialog with people. I just wanted to mention that wiring can and does change. Research has shown that personality can change and adapt to situations as well, and that those gained personality traits may be desirable and not adverse as your example showed. However, people often get boxed in by the paradigm that they believe in and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy to them.

        This isn’t a contention for the validity of the PI test. In fact it may be a good snapshot at that point in time of that persons traits. But making statements such as “naturally wired” comes off as ignorance.

  7. I believe I should be supplied my results if I’m going to be evaluated on them.
    I’ve taken many of these personality index type tests, and would like to know what I look like on paper/
    the criteria I’m being judged on.
    I have requested the information, but do not receive response.
    Why should the company in question know more about me than I do, in terms of how I’m being
    scientifically calculated/evaluated for a role. As someone who values feedback and personal growth,
    this type of insight might be valuable to my own personal development.

    1. They used to use IQ and lie detector tests to discriminate, so moved on to other metrics. Irony is that long after, we’re still using useless metrics for tradition. In a lot of ways, quality of the hiring process has gone downhill completely compared to our competitors on the global scale.

    2. Hey Anna!

      Totally hear you. We recommend clients send the results of the assessment regardless of whether a candidate is hired or not.

      Unfortunately, we cannot release the results from a client’s software for data privacy reasons. You would have to request your results from the company that issued the assessment.

      1. I work for a company that uses the PI and this assessment is normally spot on with your personality. We get the results and they are broken down by our HR dept and even if they are not an exact fit we can still hire the candidate if we so wish.The results if hired are shared with the new employee and very helpful in showing us how we progress with their growth in our company.

  8. I’m so tired of the so called scientific explanations your company is trying to sell the employers seeking workers. I find it all to be a bunch of baloney! I’ve applied to jobs where I know I had the qualifications and the personality to handle the tasks but yet was turned down and sent an email stating, “you failed the personality test so your application will no longer be considered for the position”. I was so upset because I know I could have done the job probably even better than the people who passed this bogus personality test. I wish we lived in the old times where people actually applied in person and got called in for an actual interview. Now everything is online and to make matters worst we are required to take these dumb personality tests that are long and tedious. It’s totally unfair to be judged by these tests that show nothing about how we can perform and contribute in a company.

      1. Hi Meria!

        I’m sorry to hear that this was also your experience. 🙁

        Workplace personality assessments are meant to provide objective data to support the decision-making process, but they by no means should be the only consideration. It saddens me to hear that this is how the organization is using assessments and how they’re communicating decisions to candidates.

        1. I was offered a job on the spot right after my interview and then was told I still needed to take a personality assessment and the drug test before I start. I got the email with the link for the personality assessment (PI behavioral assessment) and the test consisted of a whole two questions. First question: what do I expect from myself and the second was what do i think others expect from me. Both questions had a long list of words like loyal, honest, naive, forward, expressive etc and I could check as many of the boxes as I saw fit. I thought there was no way I was going to fail this test..I assumed you would have to be a true psycho or have serious issues to fail and I finally heard back from the employer telling me I didn’t pass and to look elsewhere for a job. I was pissed…I turned down other jobs because he already offered me that position so the fact he takes it back really upset me. I’d love to get my results to this test. Has this happened to anyone else? What should I do?

          1. Hey Lyndie!

            I’m really sorry this was your experience. The way this employer handled administering the assessment and taking next steps is not what we recommend to our clients. The behavioral assessment is really meant to be used to determine a candidate’s workplace behavioral drives and how they line up with the behavioral requirements for the role. The goal is to get the right people in the right seats, which has been found to improve both employee engagement and retention.

            Unfortunately, we cannot release the results from a client’s software for data privacy reasons. You would have to request your results from the company that issued the assessment. I’m sorry we can’t be of further assistance! We wish you the best of luck in your job search.

    1. Lori, When I read your words like: Dumb, Unfair and baloney. I see a person who this test was designed for. Finding applicants who are bitch about fairness, complain about Dumb requests, just don’t get it. Nothing is fair, Life is not fair. I would rather weed out complainers then have their toxic personality disrupt the workplace.
      If you have received more than one email turning you down because of your personality, LOOK IN THE MIRROR. Employers need people who do not spread their frustration and unhappiness to others. Every business is about (gulp) profit. Toxic personalities spread and cause others to not perform.

      That said, It is frustrating to be looking for work and getting nowhere and this might be the cause of your failed tests. Please join a support group. A group can help you find out why you have been turned down and prepare you for your next interview. Groups can help you deal with the frustration and not let it get in the way of your next interview. Please remember, an employer is not hiring you because they are nice or want to be fair. They need a job done. Getting the job done includes being positive about the company, helpful to every customer, even if that customer to you is another employee. If you need to complain, complain only to your manager and bring a solution to the problem and be OK if nothing changes. You may not know the whole story behind the issue.

    2. Hi Lori!

      I’m sorry to hear your job search has not been going well. While face-to-face interviews have long been the way of searching for job candidates, what science is showing us is that interviews alone are a poor predictor of job performance. They can be very biased, and depend largely on gut feel, which is not scaleable or necessarily accurate.

      The science tells us that combining behavioral and cognitive assessments with structured interviews (asking the same set of of prepared questions to each interviewee) is the best way, at present, to predict future job performance.

      I’m not sure what tests the companies you’re applying for are using as part of their hiring process. Unfortunately, not all assessments used in the hiring process have been rigorously validated, which could lead to difficulty filling a role. For sure, the way this organization approached applicants who were not a good fit for the role was inappropriate. You cannot “fail” a personality test. In the case of our own behavioral assessment, it’s really just to see whether you’re a good fit behaviorally for the role. While anyone can stretch themselves to perform a role, ultimately this stretching causes us to be exhausted and disengaged from the role.

      That said, assessments alone do not comprise a good hiring process. What the PI software does is it gives a match score — you may not fit the exact pattern, but you are close enough. Then, in a structured interview, an employer can ask targeted questions based on any discrepancies between your behavioral pattern and the Job Target. I’m not sure what happened in this specific situation, and I’m sorry you weren’t happy with the results, but I do think sometimes the issue with behavioral assessments is not so much the science itself so much as the occasional poor administration of such assessments. Unfortunately, so many HR departments are so short-staffed that this organization may not have had the bandwidth to send a personalized follow up to applicants.

      At any rate, I hope your job search looks up and you find the position that’s right for you!

      1. Can you direct me to peer reviews of this assessment? I have not seen any reviews in the Mental Measurements Yearbook.

        1. Hi Paul!

          Here is the most recent and comprehensive review:

          We have been reviewed by other researchers periodically over the course of our long history in the field (going on 65 years!). In 1983, Form III of the PI Behavioral Assessment was reviewed by Christopher Perry and Philip Lavori at Harvard Medical School. They investigated the reliability and construct validity of the assessment. Lennart Sjöberg of the Stockholm School of Economics also wrote two reviews of the psychometric properties of Form IV of the PI Behavioral Asssessment (one in 2000 and a follow up in 2003), specifically focusing on the psychometric equivalency of the instrument when translated. Sjöberg’s analysis was a more advanced review, leveraging confirmatory factor analysis techniques that may not have been readily available when Perry and Lavori conducted their review.

          Hope this helps!

  9. Even though you explain the difference between question 1 and 2 I still don’t see the need to show misalignment at the current job. My job description and what I was allowed to were two totally different things. I was completely misaligned. Why is that important to the next employer? People expect me to do what I do. That is who I am. The comparison is still unclear.

    1. Hey Mike!

      Good question! The short answer is we’ve always offered the behavioral assessment with both self and self-concept. That said, it can be be an additional data point for hiring that may help someone to understand, or at least probe as to, why they may be leaving or are not that happy in their current role.

  10. I’ve just been asked to take the Predictive Index test for a job application. Once I saw the first question, it’s so unclear I stopped and started searching for advice, finding this page. i still don’t know how to answer a question like, “check those that you feel describe the way you are expected to act by others.” can you provide any clarity?

    This question seems to be all about other people’s expectations, and nothing about my own behavior. I’m not sure how to approach that. If I feel other people in the world expect me to be, for example, “social” – how does that say anything about how social I am? Maybe I grew up in household of extraverts and that was their expectation, but in that case I’d check that box whether i am an introvert or an extravert. Same goes for everything else on the questionnaire.

    Can you provide any clarity?

    1. Hey Dan!

      Thanks for reaching out!

      When you take The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment, there are two parts: The first is how you perceive others expect you to be. The second is how you believe yourself to be. The reason we collect both is so we can see how you’re naturally wired and then how you’ve adapted to your work environment.

      For example, I’m wired to be highest B, or Extraversion. This makes a lot of sense. I think best with other people. I work best with and through other people. And I always factor people implications into my decision making. However, in past work environments, I led with my A, or Dominance. I felt like I needed to be more independent and authoritative than I naturally am. So while this doesn’t CHANGE who I am, it gives me an idea of how I’ve stretched myself outside of how I’m naturally wired to fit a role.

      In practice, what this would help you and your employer to do is understand if there’s a behavioral mismatch for a role or if you are perceiving a need to be someone you’re not on a regular basis. So if your company starts applying the BA retroactively, they may find that some employees are in positions that aren’t a great fit for them behaviorally, which would open up a conversation about where they might be a better fit within the organization. The goal is to always have people in the right seats.

      In addition, a manager could see that someone’s self-concept (how they perceive the need to be) is different than their self (how they’re wired), and have a conversation. This happened with one of our clients recently who uses the BA. They found that one of their employees was perceiving a need to be much more dominant than he’s naturally wired, which was not required for the role. So the client said, “Hey, I noticed that you may perceive the need to be more dominant in your role, and I’m wondering where that came from.” They opened up a dialogue about why that employee felt they needed to be that way, and then talked about the behavioral requirements that were actually needed for the role, which were very much that individual’s natural tendencies.

      Hope this makes sense and helps!

      1. I read these posts with interest, as I too have taken the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment twice; the first job, I never got a response on my resume or the assessment; they obviously hired someone else as this was two years ago. The 2nd time I took this assessment was just recently for another job that I have more then enough qualifications to perform. I have yet to hear back from them.
        About 15 years ago, I interviewed for a high level position with a large company and spent 6 hours with the owner in an afternoon, dinner and late night interview. I had good vibes about my chances of being hired, but they required a Meyers-Briggs test conducted by a PHD which resulted in me being an ENTJ. I thought this would have been a good have been a good fit for the position of Division President, but I didn’t get the job. Later I learned the owner runs a very flat organization and his autocratic style may have conflicted with my personalilty type. I will never know at this point.
        I find these tests to be unfair to a prospective employee, as discussions with previous employers for high level positions may be more accurate. I say this as an executive with 40 years of management experience who has hired hundreds of people, 90% of whom were with the companies during and long after my resigning.
        I see the usefulness in middle management when the amount of applications can be overwhelming. If a test like this can reduce the applicant pool to the top ten, it may be a great tool.
        My two cents worth.
        David Robbins

        1. Hey David!

          Thanks for sharing your insight, and I’m sorry to hear that people who administered assessments during your career weren’t very mindful of the candidate experience.

          If you look at the Myers-Briggs website, they actually say this: It is not ethical to use the MBTI instrument for hiring or for deciding job assignments. Not every assessment is validated for hiring purposes, but an unfortunate number of organizations make this mistake. It’s important to also not be cut and dry with the assessment results. While a behavioral match is important, behavioral assessments alone shouldn’t be used to determine the ideal candidate.

      2. Thanks Shannon, it does help a lot actually. The gap between what others expect of me, and what I expect of myself, can make for a great or awful workplace. It also helps to know the second question will be about how I perceive myself. Since i didn’t understand how to handle Question 1, it didn’t let me look forward to see Q2 (that might help, a short explanation above Q1 about what’s ahead)

        I’m still not sure how to approach the test though. as i settle in to take the test again – and this is for a job application at a place I’ve never worked – I look at the question, “check those that you feel describe the way you are expected to act by others.” and I wonder again – which people? where? Should I somehow factor myself into that question, e.g., “for others who KNOW me, how do they expect me to act? (how are they _used_ to me acting)”. or is it a more general statement not specific to me – “for person X that I work with, do they expect _everyone_ to be, for example, social?”

        Perhaps my current job’s expectations of me are not a match and that’s why I’m applying for a new job anyway, so I don’t want to indicate to the new potential employer that i’m somehow a bad match for the workplace. If this is the case, it seems weird to give them a pre-employment assessment, half of which is about my current employer that i want to leave.

        Any other input you could give is appreciated as I’m scared to be mis-categorized, but I don’t think I can avoid taking this assessment to complete the job application.

        1. Hey Dan!

          That’s helpful, and happy to further clarify. For the 1st question, use your most recent work situation as an example. How did you feel the need to be on the whole? For example, I worked in an environment where there were a lot of indecisive people, so my A (Dominance) shot up to accommodate that. I felt the need to take charge and make a decision so we could move forward.

          When you complete the assessment, there will be three charts: Your self (who you are), your self-concept (how you’ve felt the need to be in your current or most recent work environment), and synthesis. Your employer will be looking at the self. The self-concept is usually looked at by managers after someone’s been in a role for a while to make sure their employees aren’t feeling like they need to constantly work outside their pattern to get the job done. The synthesis is not generally used as part of the hiring process.

          1. “Your employer will be looking at the self.” this is the most helpful explanation I’ve received on the predictive index and actually makes me feel better about filling this out for a prospective employer. It makes sense: prospective employer looks at the ‘self’, current employer looks at the ‘self-concept’.

            I appreciate this response and if I could suggest anything it would be to make some of these concepts clearer to the average test taker. In fact, during a hiring process, if prospective employer only looks at ‘self’, why not simply ask question 2 and take all of the confusion out. So that’s my feedback and thanks for yours. Signing off, Dan

          2. Hey Dan!

            I’ve passed your comment along to our product team for consideration. Thank you for asking for clarification, and I’m glad the answer was helpful!

  11. Companies should be testing for temperament not personality. There is a difference between our temperament and our personality. You personality will change over time, but your temperament will remain the same. In addition, we have a work temperament and a personal life temperament. If the test and the reviewer are not sophisticated enough to distinguish between work and personal temperaments, the employer will not see the benefits these test believe they are designed to deliver.

    1. Hey Perry! Thanks for pointing that out. Personality psychology is a very broad field, but inclusive of temperament.

  12. I took a PLI and PI behavioral test a while back for one of the big shipping lines, while I did well in the first attempt, for the second attempt, the tablet that they provided for me to do the test was continuously experiencing network jams, needless to say, I lost my entire 12min of a 50 questionnaire trying to make this tablet work. I personally think the PLI test is an unfair assessment of a persons ability, taking into account all other factors that can contribute to an individual not being able to complete an online assessment? what happened to face to face interviews when deciding on a candidates suitability for a certain role?

    1. Hey Zamo!

      So sorry to hear that you experienced difficulties in taking the assessment. That’s definitely something that the assessment administrator (the shipping line) should have addressed.

      The PI Behavioral Assessment is in no way meant to replace an interview. It is, however, meant to provide insight into if an individual is naturally wired to be a fit for a given role. The results of the assessment should then be used in a structured interview to inquire about any potential gaps in between the individual’s behavioral pattern and the behavioral pattern required for success in the role.

      Hope that’s helpful!

  13. Personally a lot of word repetitive association page to page is nonsense.
    Basically a great selling job to make money off potential employers.
    People are individuals and all are different.
    They accomplish their tasks differently based on their personalities.
    Good management knows how to train and work with their employees.
    Granted there’s always the hiring mistake.
    That’s the way is and always has been.

    1. Great article, Belinda! MBTI is not a scientifically validated assessment. Any assessment an employer is considering should be thoroughly vetted to ensure it’s not only scientifically valid, but that it’s validated for a specific use case.

      The PI Behavioral Assessment, for example, has been scientifically validated over 350 times specifically around work performance and behavioral fit for a given role. It’s been validated for both pre- and post-hire application.

      We actually hosted a webinar about how to determine is a personality assessment or psychometric test is actually worth using:

  14. A simple test based on your choice of chosen words that are expected vs those you know are your own does not allow for complex personality disorders to be given a fair chance in the interview process if these tests are used as part of the recruitment process and as such is actually discriminatory under many laws! I for one have taken your test and found it to be unremarkable and lacking in diagnostic capability to the job i was applying for. I agree these personality tests are flawed and yes you will get some psychologists to agree that they are useful but you will also get many who will not agree particularly for those with complex personality types.

    1. Hi Tim!

      Sorry to hear you didn’t have a positive experience with the behavioral assessment.

      Please know that our Science team works closely with our partners and clients to ensure that reasonable accommodation is made for candidates with disabilities of any kind. The behavioral assessment is also only one data point that can be captured during the hiring process. It should by no means be the only consideration when determining a hire.

  15. I somewhat disagree (option 4) with “faking” these tests being a bad thing. I’m a conscientious employee, but an introvert if left to my own designs. Yes, I can stand in front of a room full of executives and give a good presentation – but at the end of the day, I may need to unwind more than someone who relishes the spotlight. As a result, I’m algorithmically excluded from the job? These “tests” strike me as a way to put down anyone who doesn’t fit a mathematical formula the company may arbitrarily assign as their own culture.

    Much like an employee “faking” the test might make for a bad fit, who really thinks an employer isn’t “faking” their own desirability for employees and setting themselves up for equal failure? When a company thinks their corporate culture should be filled with glowing go-getters but is actually a stagnant quagmire of people who never get promoted, where does that leave them?

    I think these things are a fail-fail all the way around.

    As someone who’s been excluded before because I wasn’t “glowing” enough, and about to take another prior to a different interview, you can bet your buttocks that I’ll be pushing myself as who I think the company wants and not who I might really be – because at the end of the day, when I go to work I do put a game face on. We all do. This test doesn’t take that into consideration at all.

    1. John, I agree with you, Chasity, Bob, etc. If there are No right answers then I would like to Know the answers to what they use to hire someone!!!
      These tests don’t get the real person as some people don’t do well on a test, or don’t select the correct variables or missed it by one selection.
      What a way to select a potential Great hire!

      1. Hey Jim!

        The “right” answers would depend on the job. When employers set a job target, they are looking for a range where the four different behavioral drives can land. As previously mentioned, this is a behavioral assessment, not a test. There is no “right” way to answer it. No two people are alike, so this scientifically measures four different behavioral drives as they exist in the workplace. The goal is not to exclude people from the hiring process, but rather help employers make the right hire for the role and help employees find a job they’re naturally inclined toward that they would enjoy, increasing the likelihood that they will stay in that position longer.

    2. Hey Derek!

      Thanks for your comment! I’m sorry to hear that you haven’t had a great experience with hiring assessments. I know the job search can be frustrating and difficult!

      I did want to respond to some of your comments, in case this helps: An open choice assessment, like PI’s Behavioral Assessment, is almost impossible to fake, unless you know the science behind it. The outcome depends not only on the words chosen, but also the number and how they relate to one another.

      As someone who also needs some time to unwind after people around people, I totally relate to you. Scoring low in extraversion doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from the position. It just means that it may be more of a stretch for you to be around people all day, which may eventually lead you to not like your job. But that’s not at all to say that you can’t do it, or that you’d be excluded from hire.

      For example, I work in content marketing here at PI. The Job Target we set was for a higher degree of formality, which denotes better attention to detail, following set rules and structure, and things of that nature. I don’t have a high degree of formality. What the PI software does is it gives a match score — you may not fit the exact pattern, but you are close enough. Then, in a structured interview, an employer would ask targeted questions. For me, literally every person who interviewed me said, “You have a pretty low D (formality). Tell me about how you keep track of deadlines and details.” The people who work with me would say I’m very organized and detail-oriented, but that’s because I’ve put systems in place to compensate for natural weaknesses.

      Hope this helps, and feel free to ask any additional questions!

  16. My question is, what would happen if each customer was allowed to preform this test before they decide to go with our company or the competition?? Would that put the company in the same understanding as us, the employees that come upon this test ?? After all its the
    Customer who we are trying to satisfy and the whole purpose of this test creation .. please feel free to grade me on this comment. And please give me any feedback as I’m all about improvement and development. I also believe that company personal dedication towards any employees can make a big difference in the actual results of this test.. I have been working for two years at my company any I just got an invitation for this PI test. I have never done one of these tests. I also know it’s not going to take an effect on me regardless the outcome i know what I’m worth and I would never sell my self short … I’m sure that 99.9 % of any company would say that in the back of there mind if any
    Customer Tries to get them to do something for free or that they don’t meet their expectations. I will be waiting for any input from anyone thanks.

    1. Hey Al!

      Interesting thought. The Predictive Index is scientifically validated for the workplace, both pre-hire and post-hire. While there might be some carryover into other realms (such as client-company satisfaction), it’s not actually intended for that use.

  17. I feel these test are completely bogus. I have been in the same field for 30 years with multiple awards and many accommodations. I have excelled in every position I have been in, yet I get passed up because I cant even get in the door..These computer generated assessment test are a fantastic way to put the ‘WRONG” person in the right job..The only way to tell if someone will do the job is a face to face interview, ask your questions, check background and references, then if you are comfortable, put them in it..To many companies rely on these tests as a “shortcut” to finding the right candidate..Sorry, Wrong..

    1. Hi John!

      I’m sorry to hear your job search has not been going well. While face-to-face interviews have long been the way of searching for job candidates, what science is showing us is that interviews alone are a poor predictor of job performance. They can be very biased, and depend largely on gut feel, which is not scaleable or necessarily accurate.

      The science tells us that combining behavioral and cognitive assessments with structured interviews (asking the same set of of prepared questions to each interviewee) is the best way, at present, to predict future job performance.

      I’m not sure what tests the companies you’re applying for are using as part of their hiring process. Unfortunately, not all assessments used in the hiring process have been rigorously validated, which could lead to difficulty filling a role.

      Hope your job search looks up and you find the position that’s right for you!

  18. I simply despise these test. I just took one for a job last night, and boom today I got an email saying they were looking at other candidates. I feel that I am a great worker and can adjust to whatever work setting. I am always honest on these test and never make it to the interview process. Wish companies would just go back to the old way of hiring and going from there.

    1. yes, me too. i am honest when taking the test but failed and got passed by. i am also a great worker and i know i would be a good fit for these jobs that i applied for but the assessment test keeps getting in my way 🙁

      1. Hey Joanne!

        Thanks for your comment, and sorry to hear that the job search has been difficult.

        Please know there is no “failing” this test. The point of a workplace behavioral assessment is to identify innate drives that correlate with aspects of a job. This serves two purposes: The first is that an employer is hiring someone wired for the job. The second is for you, the candidate, which is to make sure you’re in a role that’s a good fit for you. While there’s no doubt we can all stretch ourselves to do what’s required of us, behaving in a way that’s opposite our natural tendencies wears us down over time.

        For example, my Reference Profile is a Maverick. Key behavioral tendencies are high dominance, low patience, and low formality. In a previous life, I worked as a bookkeeper. I COULD do that job, but it was exhausting to do things that were tedious and repetitive day in and day out. I’m naturally wired to want more variety and to do things that don’t require such close attention to detail.

        Hope that helps and makes sense. Best of luck in your job search!

    2. Hi Chasity! I’m sorry to hear that’s been your experience. Incorporating behavioral assessments into the hiring process is actually a better way to predict job performance, which is good for both the employer and for you as a candidate. While you might be able and willing to adapt for a role, over time, acting outside of your natural drives will become exhausting and will likely lead to disengagement at your job. Finding the right behavioral fit is really advantageous for everyone involved.

      1. What make you believe that all people are good test takers? Some are very deliberate so there is zero chance that the assessment will be completed. Too much credit is placed on the psychology behind these tests. How much of the acceptance of these assessments is a result to the top level management not wanting to admit they were taken by a slick sales pitch?

        1. Hey Kimberly!

          So with open-choice, untimed assessments, such as the PI Behavioral Assessment, there should be no pressure on the test-taker. There are no correct answers; it’s entirely up to personal choice.

          With regards to not wanting to fall for a slick sales pitch, that’s a great point! Sometimes that is what happens when we hire without the use of science. Many people are taught how to interview well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be a great fit for the role they’re “auditioning” for. Incorporating assessments, such as a behavioral assessment, allows hiring managers to make an objective decision, rather than a gut-based decision.

  19. Tracy gets the gold! Regardless of their sophistication, such tests either ignore potential employees’ adaptive capacities; or assume performance is transferrable across work environments.
    Fact is people are capable of overcoming their natural personality preferences to meet the demands of their jobs, especially if a candidate actually wants the job. And workplace environment greatly influences personality, thus output. So such tests really do little more than pigeonhole prospective employees on the basis of their personal preferences. However, such assessments may serve well those employers who wish to maintain a psychological profile of their workforce for whatever their reasons and to whatever their ends. Otherwise, stick with a candidate’s work history, references, and any objective competency assessments for a role in question to sort the best from the better.

  20. This is completly stupid. You dont do a team using this system, you do the team and you change people in that team accordling.
    Many times the chiefs are the problems, we can see it easly when nobody stops on that team, they are always swapping people, so the team has a problem and company too.

    The team chief, master, should be fired up.

    1. We certainly agree that sometimes bad managers are the problem. You can read our blog post titled “Good employees leave bad managers who do these four things” to learn more.

      In terms of hiring, hiring managers should understand whether people are naturally wired to complete the work (this is where behavioral and cognitive assessments help) prior to placing them on a team. This reduces poor job fit and resulting turnover.

      Thank you!

  21. Our company stopped using this method. We base our hiring from the applicants work history, references, background checks Ect..

    We realized that good people were being turned down because of this test.
    The competition was building a strong dependable workforce while we were struggling to meet customer demands just because this test was rejecting the applicants.

    We believe a firm hand shake and looking someone in the eyes is still the best policy and it has been working for us perfectly!

    1. Tracy you are very much on point. i took a personality test days ago, i was shocked i didn’t make

      it to the next level of the recruitment process. But my concern was what you expressed above.

      I will not condem the Personality Test, but i strongly wish the traditional method could be substained.

      1. Tade, they could have wasted less time giving you a simple spelling test. Sometimes it’s overkill to do these tests but employers are often heavily monitored now days and need scientific support for their decision making. It’s obvious we have a lot of resentful posters whose personality flaws are (ironically) being splashed all over this comments section.

      1. Tracy is correct. The test is vague and confusing. It seems foolish to give the results from this test any weight whatsoever in a hiring decision when there is so much information available to hiring managers in the form of job history, references, education and personal interviews.

        1. Hi Andrew,

          Recently, The Predictive Index went through the process of getting our PI Behavioral Assessment certified by third-party reviewers from DNV-GL. This certification shows our clients that they’re using an instrument that meets the strict guidelines created by leading psychology experts at EFPA.

          You can read more here:

          Thank you!


  22. At the the end of the day, it’s still a person the behind the the test making the decision. A person who doesn’t know you but thinks he or she does because of a few checked boxes next to a few adjectives.. How did we get to this point of lazy,, over-thinking assumption?

    1. Our Science Team has done 350+ validity studies that establish statistically-valid correlations between behavior assessment factors and key workplace outcomes such as tenure, turnover, sales, and customer satisfaction. Also, in September 2018 our PI Behavioral Assessment was certified by third-party reviewers from DNV-GL who reviewed the assessment under the in-depth standards defined by the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations’ (EFPA) Test Review Model. DNV-GL reviewed the technical and operational aspects of the PI Behavioral Assessment along with the validity of its use in Swedish and Norwegian populations and certified the PI Behavioral Assessment to conform with the requirements of the EFPA Test Review Model.

  23. Thanks for the honest answers about my questions on The Predictive Index Test. I was greatly relieved by the advice to just be myself and answer rge questions according to what I personally believe in, as well as making sure I would even be a fit candidate for the employment offer.

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