Work personality test design. Faces and different personalities


Welcome to our bespoke personality tests info

Our Psychometric Test Designs

We are specialists in bespoke personality tests design, or personality assessment design. 

  • We offer both personality designs for assessment and for development purposes.
  • Also, we offer access to the most widely used personality questionnaires.
  • Please contact us to discuss how Rob Williams Assessment Ltd can help your company in any personality test design projects.

Bespoke Personality Tests

We will work with you to design the most suitable work styles tool to suit your needs. Examples of the typical personality test format can be found here.

Our Bespoke Personality Questionnaire design process aims to:

  • include dimensions identified as key to the role being assessed
  • reflect the personality, attitudinal and motivational aspects of the role-specific dimensions
  • have face valid questions
  • be capable of completion in 20 minutes approx.
  • adopt a single-stimulus question format (Likert scale)
  • adopt a normative format of scoring utilising a sten look-up table (for each personality scale)
  • use a Social Desirability scale to deal with the issue of faking or extreme scoring patterns.

Premium Personality Test Practice

Work personality test design. Woman at work.

Key personality test design stages

The ideal for personality questionnaire design is to have sets of items on each  scale measuring the same latent variable – as described by the scale name and the scale descriptors. This is what is meant by the internal reliability of a personality questionnaire’s set of scales.

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General Personality test Designs

We are not aligned with a particular test publisher. Thus, we can offer an independent perspective on any personality questionnaire design. Whilst we recommend designing bespoke personality tests, we can also advise on the most commonly used, off-the-shelf personality tests. These are listed below: firstly as general personality questionnaires; and then as personality questionnaires with specific applications.

  • SHL’s Occupational Personality Questionnaire (the 32-scale OPQ).
  • Kenexa’s OPI.
  • OPP’s 16PF5 Personality Questionnaire, MBTI Step I, MBTI Step II and the California Personality Inventory.
  • Saville Consulting’s Wave Styles.
  • Talent Q’s Dimensions.

Personality Values Test Design 

We can design values assessment exercises design to focus on any values framework.

Values based recruitment may involve values based structured interviews, values based selection centres, values based situational judgement tests and/or values based personality tests.

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Values based personality tests

Personality tests can be designed to measure values – as well as job specific constructs or competencies. As with a situational judgement based design, values based personality tests can serve as a highly effective realistic job preview, or self-selection tool.

If it is important to differentiate personality traits from values, then values can be seen as enduring goals, whilst personality better describes enduring dispositions.

Whenever a values based personality test is being used as part of a values based recruitment process, its vital to remember that personality influences motivational processes differently to how values drive motivational behaviour. Values impact goal content whereas personality traits impact the efforts that individuals make towards their goals.

MBTI Personality Test Tips

This personality inventory is based on the psychological types described by Carl Jung and developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katharine Briggs to make the theory accessible to people. The theory is that seemingly random variation in behavior is due to basic difference in individuals’ preferences for perception and judgement, resulting in 16 different personality types. The original MBTI® assessment has spawned an endless array of imitators and innovators who have developed new assessments based on the 16-type system. 

Big Five Personality Test Tips

Otherwise known as the 5-Factor Model, this assessment groups various traits together into five main categories – extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism and openness to experience. The Big Five is the most widely accepted personality model in the academic community and the basis for most personality research, but it is less popular outside of academic circles because it does not categorize people into easily summarized types. There is no one “official” Big Five test, but many researchers have developed their own assessments based on this theory. 

DISC Personality Test Tips

The DISC personality profile was designed to measure behavioral styles and describes people in terms of their levels of dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance. Assessments based on the DISC model are used widely in organizations to develop leadership skills, management training and team building. Free DISC tests are less common, as this model hasn’t gotten much attention outside of the business world. 

Enneagram Personality Test Tips

The Enneagram began with a spiritual practice, not a scientific one, and conceptualizes personality as a dynamic system driven by emotions, fears, and beliefs. Traditionally, Enneagram knowledge was passed on by spiritual teachers, rather than formalized in an assessment. Recently, though, the system has become more popular, leading to the development of several assessments that aim to determine your Enneagram type. 

Bespoke Personality tests design

Work personality test design. Executive team in work attire.

How have psychometric tests evolved over the years?

  • The basic principles of test development did not change significantly until around 2010. In the previous decade, ability and personality tests have evolved considerably in terms of the uses to which they are put; and in what specific assessments can measure.
  • Development of ability tests that are based on structured learning principles
  • Adaptive tests and integrity tests are already widely used in the American educational system.

Work personality test design. Colleagues listening to instruction.

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Specific Personality Assessment Designs

  • Hogan Development Survey (de-railers)
  • Kenexa and SHL’s Motivation Questionnaires
  • FIRO-B (relationship building)
  • MBTI for Teams (team relationships) and MBTI for Coaching
  • EJI and EIQ (emotional intelligence measures)
  • Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode (conflict management)
  • SHL’s Corporate Culture Questionnaire and Customer Contact Styles Questionnaire

Work Personality Tests Examples

In our opinion, the typical stages of such a personality questionnaire design project should be:

Firstly, investigate the job role(s) using the most appropriate types of job analysis.

Secondly, study the job analysis results to determine the personality areas or competencies that measure effective work performance within this particular context.

Thirdly, you have what you need to write questions for each personality area or competency.

Thus, you are able to produce a trial personality questionnaire and deliver this to a representative sample of current employees in the role(s).

Now, you can determine the best way to validate the questionnaire: (a) For example, using performance data such as sales figures, or appraisal ratings. (b) Designing a performance rating form for completion by managers of the sample group.

Next, produce scoring keys for the personality questionnaire scales.

Then, trial the personality questionnaire alongside the performance rating form.

Next, analyse the trial data and validation data to determine the personality scales and specific questions that are most predictive of work performance.

Finally, produce the final questionnaire, norm tables and scoring key.

Personality traits

Talent Gene Personality Test Validations

  • Strengths test design.
  • Values test design.
  • Validating data sets for above two tests.
  • Improving reliability and validity.

Personality Test Distortion 

Social desirability scales 

You will probably not be able to fake this personality profile throughout the whole of the test. Your responses could easily be identified by the faking / social desirability scale used by the personality assessment tool. Then you could be asked to explain your “unusual” test taking style by one of the recruiters and/or be asked to take the personality assessment again.

Lie scales

Given the high potential for faking a personality test there are multiple ways built-in to test how reliable a candidate’s responses are. One of the most effective ways is what’s called a social desirability, or lie-scale.

For example, a personality test question may ask you to rate statements such as I have never told a lie or I have never been late for an appointment. Be wary of trying to come across as a perfect angel here. Everyone has told a lie at least once and everyone has been late at least some of the time.

Work personality test design. Man with picture of clouds where his head should be.

Bespoke Personality tests design

Social Desirability – Personality scale Interpretation

A sten score of 8, 9 or 10 should be treated with caution and the respondent questioned accordingly at the interview stage – to validate their personality profile. The key point being that an extreme Social Desirability score indicates the respondent may be trying to distort their results by answering in an overly positive manner. As with any personality scale individuals have different social desirable tendencies so it’s difficult to distinguish genuine responses (for such positive attributes) from respondents intentionally distorting their answers.

A high Social Desirability score could reflect preferred behavioural style. In our opinion, it does not prove the respondent is lying / faking. This reinforces the need to validate any personality test profile with a follow-up interview. Then, to probe for interview evidence of such positive attributes.

Using Social Desirability as a personality trait

In our opinion, I have never told a lie, is one good example. Everyone has lied at some point. So, denying this is to answer in a socially desirable way. In fact, in our opinion, “Social desirability” describes two things:

  1. The tendency to exaggerate positive behaviours when answering a personality questionnaire. There is a tendency for a small percentage of personality questionnaire respondents to agree with seemingly desirable questions.
  2.  It also describes the moderation of negative behaviours. In other words, to disagree with socially undesirable questions (Zickar & Gibby, 2006).

It is therefore best practise in popular personality questionnaire design to use a Social Desirability scale to address such faking issues.

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Personality Tests

There are many personality tests used in career guidance and selection. Some tests display the person personality profile along 16 to 20 different dimensions.

The most popular of these tests are:

  • California Personality Inventory (CPI)
  • Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors (16PF)
  • Edward’s Personal Preferences Schedule (EPPS).


So, sales representatives tend to score high on extroversion and dominance. Whereas chemists tend to be thinking introverts.

Personality Factors

A test like the 16PF has 20 factors (16 primary and 4 secondary). Using 20 personality factors, there are 110 possible combinations of two extreme scores (either high or low).

The advantage of these tests is that there are very comprehensive. This validity procedure established which occupations tend to score high on which dimensions.

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Personality Type Tools

The MBTI is a very popular alternative to these tests. The MBTI:

  • Uses four basic bipolar dimensions.
  • Classifies the person into one of 16 possible personality descriptions. 

Once you complete a Big Five personality test, you’ get these five scores:

  • Agreeableness
  • Extraversion
  • Emotional Stability
  • Openness to Experience / Intellect
  • Conscientiousness

With the Big Five, as with most science-based psychological measures, you’re going to see a “normal distribution,” meaning there is a bell curve. Most of the population is going to be somewhere in the middle, with a few “outliers” on both sides.

Most people are going to be somewhere in the middle of, say, extraversion, meaning that most people would identify as both introverted and extraverted (this is completely normal). One problem with the whole notion of “types” is that they make people think their personality is more extreme and black-and-white.

Big Five Personality Traits

According to type doctrine, “personality” is less fundamental than “personality type” but there’s no scientific evidence for personality “types.” In fact, personality can change considerably over the span of a person’s lifetime.

The ‘Big Five’ is the most researched theory of personality. The typicl Big Five personality test format has five answer options, based on a Likert scale.

Wheres, with type-based personality tests you cannot provide nuance to your answer. Instead, type indicators typically have 2-3 answer options – none of which truly fit your own personality.

Personality test tips

Many of the UK’s and US’s leading test publishers have used Rob Williams Assessment’s to calculate and prove the reliability of their newly developed psychometric tests.

Big Five personality research

A team of scientists led by Michael Wilmot of the University of Toronto conducted a meta-analysis of 92 studies. They explored the relationship between conscientiousness and various occupational variables. For example, on-the-job competence, procrastination, leadership, organizational commitment, adaptability, job satisfaction, and burnout.

Across variables, the researchers found strong evidence to support the view that conscientiousness is highly predictive of job performance.

The researchers identified some interesting caveats and boundary conditions. Conscientiousness is a weaker predictor of job performance in “high-complexity” occupations). Conscientious people excel in customer service jobs. And other low to medium complexity occupations.

Furthermore, the researchers found that individuals high in conscientiousness do better in Health Care than, say, Law Enforcement.

The graph below reveals the job sectors in which conscientious individuals are most likely to excel, with Health Care leading the pack.

Bespoke Personality tests

Big Five personality test research

Conscientiousness and job performance
“Summary of meta-analyses of conscientiousness and occupational performance […]. Diamonds … [+]WILMOT & ONES (2019)

The researchers suggest that organizations should do more to harness conscientious workers’ aptitudes and motivations. Conscientious individuals are motivated by status, acceptance, and predictability.

personality test tips

Few individual differences variables have occupational effects as potent and pervasive as conscientiousness. The researchers recommend that ‘…every individual, organizational, and societal decision maker to better understand, develop, and apply the valuable human capital resource that is conscientiousness.

Personality Test Trait Research

We led a UK-wide project managing over twenty occupational psychologists including leading global psychometricians. Over a fourteen-month period this project encompassed the following: situational judgement tests (SJT) design, realistic job preview design, ability test design (numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, problem-solving ability test design, spatial reasoning test design) and personality questionnaire design.

Personality tests measure personality traits. There are particular personality traits which employers look for. It therefore makes sense that our My Strengths practice personality test questions available for free. These focus on those personality traits most measured by employers.

The latest personality test research

Personality psychologists tend to divide personality into five core dimensions: openness to experiences, agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness and neuroticism.

Any guesses as to which dimension might be most predictive of occupational performance? If you guessed extraversion, you’d be wrong. If you guessed emotional stability, you’d be wrong again.

The truth is that 100+ years of psychological research has shown conscientiousness – that is, the tendency toward self-efficacy, orderliness, achievement, and self-discipline – to be the best predictor of job performance. New research forthcoming in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers an in-depth examination of why this is the case, and when it might not be true.

personality test tips

Big Five personality research

A team of scientists led by Michael Wilmot of the University of Toronto conducted a meta-analysis of 92 studies. They explored the relationship between conscientiousness and various occupational variables. For example, on-the-job competence, procrastination, leadership, organizational commitment, adaptability, job satisfaction, and burnout.

Key Big Five personality test research papers

Welcome to our first feature on our new Big Five personality research series.

Firstly, Bartram’s increasing validity with forced-choice criterion measurement formats.

Secondly, Block’s Q-sort method in personality assessment.

Third is Clemans’ analytical and empirical examination of some properties of ipsative personality measures.

Fourth is Goldberg’s development of markers for the Big-Five personality factor structure. 

Fifth is Kaemmer’s Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Manual for administration and scoring. 

Sixth is Markon’s Role of the DSM-6 personality trait model.

Next is Naumann’s Resilient Big Five have emerged as the paradigm for personality trait psychology.

After which is O’Connor’s Quantitative review of the comprehensiveness of the five-factor model in relation to popular personality.

Penultimately, Roberts’ development of a forced choice measure of typical-performance emotional intelligence.

Last but not least, Salgado’s predicting job performance using FFM and non-FFM personality measures. 

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