The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How to Ace a Personality Test

Ace the Corporate Personality Test (2001)
by Edward Hoffman, Ph.D.
ISBN 0071359125 - Hardcopy

While the premise of the book's title sounds too good to be true, this book is more for the business side of the hiring desk instead of the applicant/candidate side. What is useful to both is the history and science of assessment tests, the philosophies of psychological experts through the ages, and the analysis of these things. After that, you may as well close the book and say you learned some things that were useful.

It's well written and engaging. But the passage on page 10 (of a 95-page book) was the one that stopped me in my tracks and stopped any further reading of the book. The passage says, "In short, psychologists strongly agree that our personality remains stable throughout life and resists major change." In other words, there is nothing we can do to change our personality.

We can consciously decide to work at being a better, more attentive, higher evolved individual. But our personality is the product of many internal and external impacts from the womb to the present. While we may be able to create the most desirable person ever on paper, as day-to-day interactions evolve, the true person will be revealed.

The natural propensity to lie, steal, cheat, subvert, feel inadequate will always be there, no matter how many personality tests say we are otherwise. Conversely, the propensity to seek harmony, more meaningful answers, a more complete fulfillment of a project will push forth through a determination to be hard-nosed. If these are part of the natural personality, they will always be there.

Dr. Hoffman goes through the remainder of his book by showing us various aspects of the personality test in order to explain what some answers indicate and why. Here, his presentation is most beneficial to hiring managers and interviewers because he talks about, for example, conscientiousness and integrity and what aspects of answers to certain strategically phrased questions will reveal those traits.

The end of the book provides a sample personality test. If you're into taking tests in order to know what to expect, then this section is for you.

Would I put this book on my bookshelf? If there were some way that the first 20 to 25 pages could be condensed and put into nugget form, I'd do it in order to have the explanations available at my finger tips. It's very useful. Otherwise, I'll let someone else try to ace the personality test that presents the false image.

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