Why interviews are about to get tougher – and how to deal with it

Things can get pretty competitive on the job market these days. Only the top 2% of job applicants even get an interview, according to the President of Job Market Experts.

Gone are the days when hiring managers were looking simply for the right qualifications, a decent amount of relevant work experience, glowing references from previous employers and the ability to express yourself well in the interview to boot.

Let’s be honest, applying for a new job has never been an easy process, as the list above will testify. What hurdle could you possibly be asked to jump through next, you ask? It’s actually something you can do very little about – your personality.

In a bid to find the perfect fit for the office, employers are increasingly introducing personality tests, or psychometric tests, as part of the job application process. Business Insider claims that more than 60% of hiring managers are now using some sort of personality test to sift through candidates, such as The Caliper Profile, The WorkPlace Big Five Profile and The 16PF.

How to increase your likelihood of passing a personality test.

It’s actually not in your best interest to ‘cheat’ a personality test. You don’t want to wind up in a job you hate, surrounded by people you don’t get along with, and personality tests are designed to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Choose wisely

It’s not about passing or failing. The first way to boost your chances is to pick the right job. Ultimately, you’ll be spending a great deal of your time in this environment and it really should suit you.

If you don’t like confrontation, or find rejection stressful, don’t go for a high-pressure environment such as sales, where confidence and persistence win out.

Apply for jobs where you think you’ll be a good fit, culture-wise. Will you fit in with the attitudes and values of your new company and workmates? If the answer is yes, then you can look forward to greater job satisfaction, job performance and job longevity.

Know the difference between hard skills and soft skills

In a nutshell, hard skills refer to skills, qualifications and knowledge that can be learnt. Soft skills are personal attributes such as:

Communication skills
Decision making
Leadership Skills
Problem-solving and creativity
Ability to work under pressure

It is actually these attributes that the personality tests are designed to reveal. You can increase your chances of success by identifying which of these you have, and working on the others.

How do you improve soft skills? A lot of these skills are linked with a person’s emotional intelligence – the ability to be aware of your own emotions and be able to control them and express them, whilst being empathetic towards other people’s feelings and be able to react to them.

Master this, and you can master the soft skills that employers are looking for.

Know how personality tests measure your personality

Personality tests work by using your behaviour in different situations in the past to predict how you’ll perform in the future. This sounds a lot like traditional job interview questions. If you’ve ever been asked ‘how would you behave in this situation?’ or ‘what would you do if?’ in a job interview, you’ll be familiar with this concept.

However, psychometric tests go a little deeper than this. They may ask much more complicated questions, which may not even be related to the job. Here’s some examples of psychometric questions from the three tests we mentioned earlier:

The Caliper Profile

Select one statement that reflects the viewpoint most like yours. Then, from the remaining choices, select the one statement that least reflects your viewpoint.
A. I don’t necessarily need to define and control the agenda.
B. It’s almost never necessary to hurt other people’s feelings.
C. I’m usually the first person to strike up a conversation with strangers.
D. I would never step over others in order to ensure my own success.

This question assumes that if you align most with ‘a,’ you’re controlling, if you answer ‘b’ you’re sensitive, ‘c’ then you’re sociable or affable, and ‘d’ indicates aggressiveness.

If you align least with ‘a’ it assumes you are compliant or passive, ‘b’ then you could be apathetic or strong, ‘c’ then you’re introverted or reserved and ‘d’ indicates you are easy going or diplomatic.

The WorkPlace Big Five Profile

True or False: I am uneasy when receiving praise

This is designed to identify confidence and pride, but also humility, depending on the workplace setting.

The 16PF

On television, I usually prefer watching an action movie than a program about art. 
A) Often
B) ?
C) Rarely

The idea behind this question is that if you choose ‘often’ you’re more likely to be fast-focused, and if you choose ‘rarely’ you’re more likely to be creative. If you choose the question mark, either you’re equal or aren’t sure.

Clearly, psychometric tests such as these make some pretty big assumptions about your personality based on your answers, which could be misleading if applicants give the answers they think the company wants to hear.

The best advice we can give is just to be honest, and work on your soft skills, which will ultimately make you more employable.