How to answer tricky assessment test questions

applying for jobs, applying online, answering assessment test questions,
There are moments in life when you will be asked questions you simply can’t answer well including, "Does my rear end look fat in these jeans?" Possibly the hardest questions of all to answer are those posed in pre-employment personality tests given by hiring companies.

Fortunately, there are helpful articles online where you can learn how to answer tricky questions.

Unfortunately, they are maddeningly hard to locate because there are so many different types of assessments tests and way too many irrelevant articles cluttering up the web. Despite that, it’s worth the trouble to dig for answers because even though the test administrator may say there are no ‘correct’ answers, there are, of course, correct answers, and it will be these answers that will get you the job.

To answer tricky assessment test questions well, you will need common sense, your wits and an understanding that these tests … and your answers … don’t necessarily relate to the real world.

answering personality assessment tests
Personality assessment tests are used to gauge
how well you will fit into a company's culture 
Answering personality assessment tests
Typically, such tests start out with a simple question to make you feel at ease and then the questions become more complicated. A simple question might be, “Can you count to 20?” A more complicated question might be, “Have you ever stolen anything -- Yes or no?” The latter question is obviously more difficult to answer. No one wants to hire someone who has a history of theft, but if you are truthful, you have probably stolen something even if it was toy and you were a toddler.

Unfortunately, as in the theft question, the answer options are so cut and dried, they don’t allow for human flexibility or frailties, thus they have no connection to who you really are.  Understanding that flaw in the system can help you respond to personality assessment tests questions to your advantage.

The right way to respond?

  • Give them the answers they want to hear while being as honest as you reasonably can be. Since by your usual nature (I assume) you don’t steal, the correct answer to the theft question is “No”.
  • Be consistent and answer similar questions in the same way
  • Answer quickly with your first instinctual response
  • Don't over-think your answers

To learn more precisely how to answer personality assessment questions, check out these actually helpful articles:

Richard McMunn
Richard McMunn
Guest blogger Richard McMunn, is the founder and director of the leading career website His aim is to help as many people as possible pass the recruitment process to secure the job they want. The website offers books, DVDs and courses for those who want to ensure they have every stage of the process covered. Connect with Richard and How2become on YouTube

What personality test questions do you find difficult to answer? Share them on or on the LinkedIn discussion group board that might have brought you to the blog.


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  1. Basically, just lie your way through it. Employers don't want honesty on these things, they want correct answers. If you hate dealing with cranky customers and one of the statements is "I like working with customers even when they are insufferable jerks," you tick the box next to "Strongly Agree," or at least "Agree." If you don't lie, you'll never get the job.

  2. Sadly Silverbuttons, you may have a point. I've always hated when they ask questions like, "Have you ever taken anything from a company?" Well, if you are hyper honest, you're going to feel guilty if you accidentally took a work pen home and admit it on the assessment test ... very likely disqualifying yourself for being honest.

  3. I'm having a lil trouble answering this question-[ what is your biggest weakness that ifs really a weakness and not a strength?

  4. can someone give me an idea on how to answer a question on my application? like what it's my biggest weakness that's really a weakness and not a strength? why dye humans have2 eyes?

  5. Lillian, This article conveys my strategy for handling "what's your greatest weakness" question -- -- the best answer is to talk about something that you are working to improve and turn it from a weakness to a strength. -- Kathy

  6. I have taking a few of these lately and they are starting to mess with me. I'm taking it personal. I know I can do the job... Still haven't passed any of these test lost out on some great career positions, it's not fair... I'm very skilled.

    1. Unknown, I know how discouraging it can feel about not passing assessment tests. The only thing that I can suggest doing is to read as much as you can about how assessment tests work and then take as many practice assessment tests as you can. Try to think like the employer as far as what they want and answer accordingly ... and consistently. Also keep in mind that not every company uses assessment tests so focus on the ones that don't ... if enough people refuse to complete the tests, maybe the employers will stop forcing them on applicants.

  7. My main gripe on this topic is an assessment I just took yesterday for a management job with Target Distribution where you are forced to choose between 2 bad things to continue the assessment. The questions are set up as a series of choices between 2 statements, and often sounded bad. For instance, I do not like working with others, OR I often find it hard to control my temper. Neither of those is a good thing, but you HAVE to pick 1 to continue with the assessment.
    I DO like working with other generally, and if I did not it definitely is not something I would put on an application for a job. Also, I DO NOT find it hard to control my temper. So WHAT is the correct answer there??
    There isn't 1, it is either are you a jerk, or are you a creep....
    Thanks to that assessment I am not holding my breath to get a call back for THAT job!!

    1. Exactly! I was taking that assessment thinking feeling like I was on some hidden camera prank show. I can't even imagine what the endgame for assessments like that is.

  8. Zlloyd1, I know exactly what you mean! I hate assessment tests as well, particularly when they only give you an option between something bad and something awful. In those instances, just keep trying to chose the lesser of the two evils that more closely matches what you prefer. I personally think companies lose good people because of stupid assessment tests.

  9. I lie on these things and fail. I tell the truth and still fail. ������ wtf. ���� whats sad is im an amazing person to work with/for but noone will ever know because of these stupid tests.

  10. zlloyd1 - I am in the same position as you are. The assessment for target was painful to get through as 80% of the 2 choices I didn't agree with. IT was ridiculous.

    The other thing I have a problem with is the questions like - are you going to make friends at work , or if your co-worker is having problems will you talk to them. Well 1 - if I say I am going to make some friends at work or I want to help a co-worker through their problems then it will come across as I am only there for a social agenda when I am actually there to work. I don't know which way to answer. So then I am either cold and heartless making me less than an ideal person to work with customers or I come across as someone who want to play. Thoughts

  11. Just Jill, I think those kinds of assessment tests are judging whether you are a social type of person or an analytical one so I'd say the way to answer is dependent on the type of job for which you are applying. For example, if it's a sales job, I'd answer being more social. If you are handling the company's taxes, answer more analytically. It's very job-type dependent.

  12. What about the tests that ask "what would your current or most recent employer say " ranging from below other countries workers to much higher than your computer workers?

  13. Sandi, I'm not sure I understand the question. Are you saying that a test asked how your past employers would compare you and used examples that included "worker from another country" or "computer workers"? If that's the question, I think it's awful that they asked such a question. It's insulting to workers in other countries (like they are somehow the complete and negative opposite of computer workers). and totally confusing for you. As far as how to answer it, if you really want the job, I'd try to answer honestly about where you'd place yourself in the range (tending toward a higher score than a lower one). Thanks, Kathy

  14. Question 1

    How will you handle the operations of the mall where Ostrich eggs are being sold?

    Question 2

    Tell us about an Idea you have that most people would disagree with you about and why you think you are right?

    Question 3

    If the tortoise ever overtook the leopard in a race, what do you think would have happened?
    i have trouble answering this question please help me

  15. Wow, Sofia, I am sorry that you were asked such odd questions. No wonder you are confused about how to answer them! As far as how to answer them, I'd be guessing, but for the 1st one, I'd talk about how you will ensure that the ostrich eggs will sell successfully through merchandising, operations, marketing, etc. For the 2nd one, I'd just trying to come up with something not controversial (like don't get into politics, religion or anything prejudicial), maybe something like, "I don't believe that breakfast is the most important meal because I haven't been eating it for years and it makes me feel awake and eager to face the day." Regarding the 3rd question, about the tortoise and the leopard (or in America, we'd say the tortoise and the hare), I would say that if the tortoise won it was because smart, steady work ensures success because you are not rushing and making mistakes. In general, think what the questions are trying to get to ... in these questions, they are trying to see if 1) you can put a plan together to successfully sell something (the eggs), 2) you can deal constructively with people who have a different opinion and 3) you will be careful and methodical in your work.




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