Because sales leadership is so important to a company's success, when hiring, more firms are using personality tests prior to interviewing the candidates. Often, when job applicants realize that they are required to take a psychometric test, they become intimidated and sometimes fearful.
While every sales personality test is a bit different and asks questions unique to that particular test, all look for the same end result - a sales employee who is going to be successful at the job they need done.
Therefore, before someone begins to take a personality test, they need to sit down and think about what employers want out of their sales employees, i.e. traits and skills. Once the traits and skills are clearly defined, the questions can be answered more effectively.
What Sales Employers Crave
There are universal traits that successful sales professionals share and the personality test, through "hidden" inquiries, tries to uncover whether the sales applicant possesses the following qualities:
- Resiliency - Personality tests aim to determine the longevity of the sales applicant. Sales is a marathon and the successful business development representatives are not going to jump ship the moment client objections arise. When taking the test, think "thick skinned" and, if given situational questions, ask yourself, "What would a very tough-minded person do in this situation?"
- Optimistic Attitude - Parts of job assessment tests are geared towards determining one's outlook on both their career and their life. Just like the questions that will determine one's resiliency, the optimism questions will appear as if they don't have an agenda and are just trying to learn more about you.
Pessimistic sales professionals think in three ways: everything must be permanent, pervasive and personal. That is, they tend to believe that one sales rejection will lead to multiple rejections, these rejections will undermine everything they are trying to achieve, and that the rejections are somehow personal.
Questions on sales personality tests will dig to find out how you personalize events. Often, the tests do so by giving both positive and negative scenarios and asking the likely cause for that event. For instance, if given the situation that you lose a sale and are given reasons why this happened, choose an answer such as, "the client just didn't need the product," rather than answering, "I could have done better on the account."
Empirical and Theory Based Tests
According to Dr. Martin E. Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, two kinds of questionnaires can predict potential for success: empirical- and theory-based. I asked a popular Los Angeles headhunter about the difference and was given the following information:
Empirical personality tests gather seemingly random information from the most successful employees at the firm, such as their preference in music, and automatically look for job seekers who share the same life preferences, regardless of how insignificant they may seem.
You know you are thrown an empirical personality test when you are given tons of random questions such as "Do you like animals?" or "Do you enjoy social media?" Unfortunately, these tests cannot be manipulated because there are no concrete right or wrong answers. Rather, the right answer is what the successful employees have answered.
Therefore, if 70% of the best sales professionals in the office don't like animals and you do, your results are not going to be as positive. Empirical-based tests are often given by HR rather than by direct hiring managers, though this is not always the case.
On the other hand, theory-based tests ask questions that are aimed to determine aptitude, motivation and optimism and are much different in nature than empirical based profile exams.
In the End
While there is not much a sales job applicant can do if given an empirical-based test, there are ways to ensure a higher score on theory-based personality exams. The first step is determining what employers want, what type of test is being given and what results that exam is looking for.