What is The Big 5 Personality Test

- 21/11/2018
What is The Big 5 Personality Test

With personality tests playing an ever more central role in the job application process we look at some of the more popular tests on the market and what they involve.

Most personality tests used in recruitment today are influenced or defined by the Big 5 model, which can give hiring managers valuable insights into five key dimensions of a candidate's personality.

What is it?
The Big 5 personality test is based on the model by the same name, which was first developed in the 1950s. The model in its present form came into being in the 1990s, when researcher Lewis Goldberg named it 'The Big Five'. The test is often used as part of the interview process to gain a deeper understanding of a candidate's preferred and likely behaviour.

What does the test look at?
The Big 5 model inspects five dimensions of your personality: agreeableness, openness, emotional stability, extraversion/introversion and conscientiousness. By looking at these different areas hiring managers will get a well-rounded view of who you are and how you're likely to perform at work: your approach to others (agreeableness) and sociability (extraversion/introversion), your inventiveness and curiosity (openness), working style (conscientiousness) and how you react to difficult situations (emotional stability).

What does the test look like?
The test is made up of a series of statements. You rate each statement on a scale of 1 to 5, according to how much the statement applies to you. Based on your answers the test will then score you from high to low on each of the five dimensions. 

  • Typical statements might look like this:
  • 'I enjoy meeting new people'
  • 'I have my tried and tested way of doing things.'
  • 'I leave a lot to chance.'
  • 'I have a vivid imagination.'


What does the assessor get out of it?
The test gives hiring managers a more detailed insight into a candidate's personality which they can then easily compare to the job requirements. For example, if they're recruiting for a sales role and a candidate's test results reveal that they scored low on extraversion and agreeableness, they're not very likely to love the job or excel in it. 

But it's not just hiring managers that can learn from the test; taking it can help you get a clearer sense of who you are and the types of roles you might enjoy and which ones you're perhaps less suited to.

How can you perform better in the test?
The number one rule is to read the questions carefully before answering. Secondly, be honest. It's to the benefit of the assessor and you that you end up in a role that is right for you. That being said, make sure you research the role beforehand, so you know what they are looking for and keep this in mind. You don't want to be underselling your traits that are beneficial to the role or overstating your weaknesses either.

The key to the Big 5 is self-awareness and emotional intelligence; the more tuned in to your feelings and behaviours you are, the easier it will be to complete the test. There are plenty of mock tests available online, so make sure you practise. This way you can take your time to really think about your answers before facing the real deal.

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Source: career development resources