About these tests
These are usually a cheap and simple pass/fail filter for hiring systems that handle massive amounts of applicants. Career Gym (Archived link here) has a writeup about them:
Personality questionnaires are a popular type of interview test for employers to get an idea of what makes you “tick” and whether your personality would be a good fit for the position they are filling.
(I disagree that they really help find a good fit that much. Almost everyone applying knows that they should not give "bad" answers.)
They also mention a few things to keep in mind. Some of the most relevant points are below:
Consistency: Most personality questionnaires will have several questions that measure the same traits, so it is important to answer consistently and truthfully – otherwise you will have very odd results which may raise the suspicion of you trying to manipulate the outcome.
(Anecdotally, I've heard exactly this from friends who are/were managers at retail chains. One of the main results they would see would be a grade on how consistent the applicant's answers were.)
Honesty: There are usually a few questions intended to measure your honesty, so be honest! For example “I have never told a lie” – everyone has told at least one lie in their life, so answering negatively may, ironically, be a red flag that you are being dishonest in your answers.
Speed: Although these tests are usually not timed, it is important to choose your first (or “gut”) reaction as this is the most likely indicator of your true personality. Note that for computer-based tests there may be indicators to let employers know if you hesitated on any answer, so keep that in mind.
Edit: Poking around a bit, you can find references to personality tests in subreddits like r/bestbuy and r/retail. There's also a company called Criteria that provides these types of tests. Here's one test that claims to be appropriate for retail, manufacturing, "and many more".
What to do next
Depending on your opinion of this type of test, I'd suggest a few options:
- Refuse to take it, look elsewhere
- Take it and give reasonable, consistent answers that you think will match their expectations
- Take it and put down answers that actually match your behavior
If you're interested in the job and choose to take the test, answer consistently, honestly, and quickly, and remember that the system will probably judge a lot of 1s/5s as a bad fit either way.
Finally, I'd be interested to know what type of job this is. I remember seeing these when I applied for retail, food service, and other jobs at national chains, franchises, or entry level positions at larger corporations. In these cases, in my experience, the people hiring didn't make the decision to use this system, some HR director in the corporate office did. Most of the people on the team you work with will roll their eyes and say "oh yeah, that silly test" if you bring it up.