Why Personality Assessments Are Great Interview Prep

Who doesn't cringe at the thought of taking a personality assessment during the hiring process? It seems so awfully clinical!

But then you take the assessment, and you're shocked at how accurate it is. Rather than resisting this part of the hiring process, why not embrace it?  The better you get to know your authentic self, the better you'll be able to sell yourself in an interview!

One of the many personality assessments currently in vogue in hiring departments is the Predictive Index (PI). This personality assessment is based on "trait theory," the notion that our traits – whether developed by nature or nurture – cause us to perform certain behaviors. In other words, our traits determine our personalities and what drives us, which in turn determine our behaviors.

The PI assessment splits the major drivers of behavior into four primary categories. While all combinations of traits have their advantages, the trick is knowing yourself well enough to actively use your traits to your advantage in a particular business setting.

Here is a brief overview of the four primary trait categories:

1. Dominance

In short, "dominance" refers to your desire to control your environment and/or be able to impact it in some way. Don't worry about whether it is preferable to score high or low on this trait. Both scores have their advantages.

Being high on the dominance scale means you probably have a lot of ideas and aren't afraid to share them. You may be itching to schedule a meeting to discuss your ideas and the positive impact you think they will have within your organization. You're an innovator with a unique point of view.

If you're low dominance, you're more likely to sit back and listen during the meeting. You're a team player who is willing to pitch in to get the job done. Make no mistake: This doesn't mean you're incapable of strong leadership.

High Dominance: Resourceful

Low Dominance: Collaborative

2. Extraversion

As you might suspect, this trait is tied to your drive for social interaction.

If you're high on the extraversion scale, you have a sincere interest in others. You're also great at being persuasive. Approval from those around you is very important to you.

You might score lower on the extraversion scale if you find yourself dreaming of the day you'll have your own office and work in a private space. You're generally more introspective and observant. You don't necessarily shy away from social interaction, but you may prefer a small and trusted circle of friends to a large, loose network.

High Extraversion: Empathetic; great at building teams

Low Extraversion: Analytical; great at working alone

3. Patience

This doesn't necessarily mean what you think! Here, "patience" refers to your desire for consistency. Think of it as a measure of your comfort level with change.

People with high patience like the status quo. They prefer the familiar and tend to shy away from the unknown.

On the other hand, those with low patience gravitate toward change. They are uncomfortable with mundanity. If you're low patience, your mindset is probably: "Something new? Bring it on!"

High Patience: Reliable and consistent

Low Patience: Adaptable

4. Formality

This trait is all about your need for structure.

If you're a high-formality person, you might identify as a perfectionist. You're process-oriented. You dot your i's and cross your t's. Bottom line: You want things done right.

Low-formality people, you know who you are. Color within the lines? Nonsense. It's better just to start and see what happens, right? You go with the flow. What matters most is what you produce in the end, not how you get there.

High Formality: Impeccable work; expertise in specific areas

Low Formality: Flexible; willing to take risks

While the results of a personality assessment can be eye-opening, you don't necessarily need to take one just to understand yourself better. You probably recognize some of the traits outlined above within yourself already. Dig a little deeper. Match your behaviors to the categories to find out where you score for each trait.

This exercise can be great interview prep. You can use any new insights produced to your advantage by casting your set of traits as a winning combination and playing it up to interviewers!

A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.

Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing's resident career expert.