Career Advice: Is There Any Secret to Filling Out Personality Profiles When Applying For Jobs?

 In Interviewing Strategies, Job Search Strategy

Career Advice: Is There Any Secret to Filling Out Personality Profiles When Applying For Jobs?Dear Dorothy,

I hope it’s not too late to express my anger and confusion about Personality Profiles.

A few years ago, I filled out my first online application for the soon-to-be-extinct Borders. To my shock and dismay, I was also required to answer a 185-question Personality Profile. Many of the questions were the same–just worded differently–but, worst of all, I found many of the questions to be an invasion of privacy.

I couldn’t understand how the answer to whether or not I had a messy home could have anything to do with whether I would be a good employee or bookseller!

I’ve been told that these profiles are then rated by a computer. I’ve also been told to answer the questions honestly, but to do that would reveal just about every foible I possess, something I don’t think any career counselor worth their salt would advise me to do.

What is the secret–if any–of completing these often offensive questionnaires so as to be reasonably honest without decreasing the already minuscule chance that you will ever be contacted from applying online?


Hi K,

I truly understand and appreciate your frustration with assessments being part of the application and hiring process.  The quick answer to your question is: there is no way to “prepare” for these assessments, nor any trick to taking them.  There are new assessments being created everyday so it’s not possible to have enough knowledge into what it is or what it is attempting to measure.

Let me give you some insight on them.  When companies deploy assessments as part of the screening process, they usually have been sold by an expert on how to profile the perfect applicant for their business.  There are usually studies done to help develop the profile.  The thought is to try to take the subjective aspects out of the process but that really can’t be done.  When we meet a person our primitive brain kicks in its own personal assessment and thus a decision to hire is truly born. That’s what happens in the interview.  From what you’ve said, if the assessment has repeated the same or close to the same question a few times, that’s a good indicator that it’s a validated assessment.  The scope of what might be assessed is as broad and diverse as we are.  It could be attempting to find out how well you meld into a team environment, whether or not you have the personality to sell or even an introvert.  We’re diverse creatures and an assessment can only attempt to measure one aspect of who we are.

If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of assessments in the hiring process.  I think they don’t accomplish what they intend to plus it costs time, money and goodwill for people like you.  The problem is that companies that get sold on the idea rarely reverse their position because it becomes something they want to prove to be right once they make the decision.

For more career tips and advice – FREE newsletter and eworkbook:  From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from and

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