As if interviewing isn't already stressful enough, today's job seekers often have to take personality tests before they receive an offer.
You might be asked some head-scratching questions that seem impossible while wondering what the company is trying to learn about you.
When faced with personality tests, here's what you need to know:
Why do companies give them?
They're used as a screening tool to help determine which job candidates will stick around and succeed on the job, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ideally, they'll help identify high, or at least good, performers who won't be the type of employee that the company will need to fire after a few months or who will leave on their own.
In addition, your reaction to being asked to take the test is telling, according to Monster. If you have an overly defensive or paranoid reaction, a prospective employer is sure to wonder about it.
Should you take the test?
In theory, you could respectfully decline, Monster says. But in practical terms, you're likely to have some competition for the job, so if you don't take the test, you can probably kiss the position goodbye.
Asking a polite, professional question or two about the test can also glean some telling information about the company. One expert told Monster that she advises asking, "It seems like assessments are being used by a lot of employers these days. What prompted you to start using one for this job?" The answer could yield some important information about the job and company. If the recruiter gets annoyed, you may not want to work for a company that doesn't welcome a question.
What sort of questions do prospective employees ask?
The following are some sample yes/no questions, according to Business Insider:
"I'd rather do things quickly than perfectly." This question measures perfectionism versus proactivity. Perfectionism can be valuable in research and development and artistic/design jobs. Proactivity can be valuable in sales and entrepreneurial jobs.
"My parents never really loved me." People who answer "yes" often have lower emotional intelligence, and those who answer "no" are usually optimistic and calm under pressure.
How honestly should you answer?
You might think you can outsmart the test by giving the answers that you think a prospective employer wants to see. But the more sophisticated tests have built-in checks that can detect inconsistencies.
Experts recommend not overthinking the questions and instead going with the first answer that comes to mind.
It's best to be truthful, because even if you manage to fool the test, you may end up with a job that's not a good fit.