Be aware that in the US alone, there are about 2,500 personality tests on the market so the information in this section focuses on the most well known personality theories and tests. Learn about the different personality models, what the personality tests measure, how they work and what the results mean.
An introduction to what many psychologists consider to be the five fundamental dimensions of personality (OCEAN) with links to a selection of free online Big Five personality tests.
These personality tests are based on the work of Carl Jung, Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs and are similar in theory to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
Temperament is a configuration of observable personality traits, such as habits of communication, patterns of action, and sets of characteristic attitudes, values, and talents.
Free personality tests introduce you to how tests work and give you a general insight to your type. The reporting and feedback is limited, and the process itself doesn't reflect test conditions.
If you're an active job seeker or a shortlisted candidate, who is unfamiliar with the testing process, then prepare with valid and reliable practise pre employment personality tests to ensure the best results.
Personality tests typically assess general patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that are obvious to people who regularly come into contact with you.
A personality scale shows your standing on one specific aspect of personality, relative to other people. For example, a short test containing a single shyness scale would indicate whether you are more shy, about as shy, or less shy than people in general. A longer personality inventory contains a set of scales designed to provide a more complete picture of personality.
Any personality test used in personnel selection (which includes all of the major personality inventories) must comply with fair employment practices legislation. They cannot evaluate or inquire about physical disabilities or topics such as religious beliefs, sexual attitudes, drug use and criminal behaviour.
With trait-based personality questionnaires, results are often described using a STEN (Standard Ten) scale:
Remember that the results of any instrument are just a snapshot in time. Don’t assume the results of any personality type instrument are 100% accurate. You may take the same test on another day and produce different results so assess how accurate and relevant the results are for you. Over-reliance on, or extreme interpretation of, any methodology or tool can be counter-productive.
Ethical users of personality instruments follow feedback standards and validate results through an exploratory process, which is why you should see the results as a starting point rather than an end-point. For example, some personality tests produce what may be called a 'reported type' then through a process of review and evaluation you determine your true or best fit type, which may differ to the reported type. It’s a process of self-discovery and insight.
You'll find more in depth advice in the following article: Success Tips for Personality and Psychometric Employment Testing.
The free online personality tests in this section measure what many psychologists consider to be the five fundamental dimensions of personality. The Big Five is the most well-respected, widely researched and extensively used model of personality.
The Big Five was originally derived in the 1970's by two independent research teams (Paul Costa/Robert McCrae and Warren Norman/Lewis Goldberg). Both teams concluded that most human personality traits consist of five broad dimensions of personality, regardless of language or culture.
The five-factor model is comprised of five personality dimensions commonly referred to as OCEAN. The factors are dimensions, not types, so people vary continuously on them, with most people falling in between the extremes. They are stable over a 45-year period beginning in young adulthood and are also genetic, at least in part - which means you can either thank or blame your parents depending on your results.
Describes impulse control that facilitates task and goal-directed behaviour, such as thinking before acting, delaying gratification, following norms and rules, and planning, organising, and prioritising tasks. Conscientious individuals are motivated toward achievement through social conformity.
Extraversion: indicates preferences for liking people, being around large groups, being assertive and talkative, upbeat, energetic, and active.
Implies an energetic approach to the social and material world. It has an interpersonal component and is strongly related to being enthusiastic, energetic, interested and friendly. Extraverts are highly motivated to seek social situations and to be dominant in those situations. They are motivated by change, variety in their lives, challenge, and are easily bored.
Agreeableness: indicates sympathy and eagerness to help
Agreeable individuals tend toward conformity in groups, modesty, not being demanding, and being sympathetic. These individuals might be motivated toward helping others and prosocial behaviour in general.
Contrasts emotional stability and even-temperedness with negative emotional states, such as feeling anxious, nervous, sad, and tense. It tends to be viewed negatively however keep in mind that neuroticism is only one trait of five traits. A person could be neurotic and conscientious which may have a negative effect on health but may motivate an individual toward success in school and work situations.
This version of the Big 5 inventory was developed for use in psychological research projects and contains 41 items with some additional questions. Once you have submitted the test for scoring, you will be receive your scores on the five basic dimensions with some information about what they mean. (Provided by the Department of Psychology, University of Westminster, UK)
This test consists of 50 questions and takes about 7 minutes for most people to complete. It is simple derivation of the Big Five based upon the IPIP 10-item scale. The five factors measured by this test are extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and intellect/imagination.
Based on responses to 40 adjectives, this questionnaire provides scores on the Big Five dimensions of personality. It is designed to give you a sense of what the dimensions mean, which can be useful introduction to the Big Five (by C.George Boeree)
Disclaimer: This information has been compiled by Excellerate to assist you with your career development. No endorsement is made of the services, nor is warranty given as to the completeness or accuracy of the information provided by the sites listed. Each link will open in a new window taking you to the site where you should use your discretion when providing personal details or acting upon the information provided.
NEO Personality Inventory The NEO Personality Inventory was originally created by Paul T. Costa and Robert R. McCrae. It has since been updated and revised as the NEO PI-R-3. This contains 240 items with a 35–45 minute timeframe.
The NEO Personality Test PrepPack™ includes practice test, answer explanations, and a detailed score report with study guides to help you gain a better understanding of the different personality traits.
Raymond Cattell was a British and American psychologist whose theory of personality factors and the instrument used to measure them are known respectively as the 16 personality factor model and the 16PF Questionnaire. According to Cattell human personality traits could be summarised by 16 personality factors (PF) or main traits. He called these "source traits" because he believed they provide the underlying source for the surface behaviours we think of as personality. He described these 16 traits on a continuum where everybody has some degree of every trait. The 16PF questionnaire determines where on the continuum an individual falls.
Cattell's sixteen Personality Factor model was criticised by many researchers however following investigation into the validity of Cattell's model researchers discovered the Big Five Factors which have been monumental in understanding personality as we know it today.
The 16 Personality Factors
All of Cattell’s 16 traits are bipolar dimensions, meaning that they are continuous variables in which extreme scores at either end represent opposing characteristics.
1. Warmth: Reserved vs. Warm
2. Reasoning: Concrete vs. Abstract
3. Emotional Stability: Reactive vs. Emotionally Stable
4. Dominance: Deferential vs. Dominant
5. Liveliness: Serious vs. Lively
6. Rule-Consciousness: Expedient vs. Rule-Conscious
7. Social Boldness: Shy vs. Socially Bold
8. Sensitivity: Utilitarian vs. Sensitive
9. Vigilance: Trusting vs. Vigilant
10. Abstractedness: Grounded vs. Abstracted
11. Privateness: Forthright vs. Private
12. Apprehensiveness: Self-assured vs. Apprehensive
13. Openness to Change: Traditional vs. Open to Change
14. Self-Reliance: Group-Oriented vs. Self-Reliant
15. Perfectionism: Tolerates Disorder vs. Perfectionist
16. Tension: Relaxed vs. Tense
The 16PF is commonly used as a candidate assessment tool. It is designed to identify traits through a series of multiple choice questions (185) which sometimes appear more than once but with different wording. If you are required to take this test as part of your selection process then start practising with the full length question and feedback version now.16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16 PF)
The tests in this section are based on the work of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, who is recognised as one of the founding fathers of modern-day psychology. His theory of psychological types proposes that people are innately different in the way they see the world, take in information, and how they make decisions.
Jung's work was further developed by Isabel Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs. They produced the now well known Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) which uses a self-report inventory to identify a person's personality type, strengths, and preferences. It is one of the most widely used psychological instruments in the world.
The Jungian MBTI personality type instruments measure a person's preferences across four dimensions, Introversion/Extroversion, Thinking/Feeling, Intuition/Sensing, and Judging/Perceiving.
The various combinations of these four preferences produce 16 different personality types. It's important to remember that no one personality type is "best" or "better" than any other. The percentages in this table indicate the prevalence of that type within the general population.
(Reference: Nardi,D. Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People. Radiance House, 2011)
To discover your Jungian type you can take this free PsychCentral Personality Test. Your results will include a basic description of which one of the 16 Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality types you are most likely to belong to. It takes about 8 minutes and includes the disclaimer that it is not a diagnostic personality instrument, so you should not take the results as anything other than as entertainment or for your own personal growth and education.
This free personality test allows you to experience a sample pre-employment personality test. On completion you will be able to view an analysis of a specific aspect of your personality and how you are ranked in comparison to the average distribution.
Are you a job seeker or shortlisted candidate looking for reliable and valid personality tests used by employers and recruiters? If you need to build greater fluency or confidence then you can purchase access to online testing with feedback and multiple practise sessions here. Pre Employment Online Personality Test
Temperament is a configuration of observable personality traits, such as habits of communication, patterns of action, and sets of characteristic attitudes, values, and talents. It also encompasses personal needs, the kinds of contributions that individuals make in the workplace, and the roles they play in society.
Dr. David Keirsey is generally credited with simplifying the interpretation of the Myers-Briggs (see the personality tests in Section 3 above). He provided an easy-to-remember structure for thinking about psychological types in everyday life. Using 2-letter temperaments, based on the interaction of two basic dimensions of behaviour: our communication and our action (in other words, what we say and what we do) Keirsey identified four basic temperaments:
As with the MBTI, no one is ‘all’ any one temperament. We each have preferences, yet exhibit a certain amount of the non-preferred approaches, too. Note that with each of the temperaments, the strengths – when taken to extremes – can also become weaknesses.
Some employers and recruiters use the Hogan suite of assessment instruments which are based on the five factor personality model (which is why it has been included). The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) captures behavioural tendencies related to two key themes of getting along with and getting ahead of others to predict your potential performance in the workplace.
The HPI measures how you relate to others when you are at your best, which is described as your normal or bright-side personality. Your normal personality is assessed along the following seven scales:
The Hogan Personality Inventory also predicts your work performance by measuring six occupational scales:
There are no free online Hogan inventories (due to proprietary rights) however if you are required to take this test then consider practising with the full length paid version below.
Are you required to complete an Hogan personality inventory as part of your selection process? Prepare with this full-length online HPI test and comprehensive study guide.The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) – Prepare Yourself Online