Immersed In My Work Assignments

Employment assessment tests are becoming more popular as companies seek to filter out applicants in today’s crowded market. You may have experienced one of these employment personality tests yourself after filling out an online job application. After entering information relevant to the job, you were asked to answer between 50 and 200 questions about yourself, many of which required you to agree or disagree with various statements that had little to do with the job you applied for. You may have been confused as to what some of these questions were actually trying to find out or why you were being asked to complete a personality test in the first place.

Well, we’re here to give you the real scoop on how to pass an employment assessment questionnaire. You may have heard there are no “right” or “wrong” answers on an employment assessment test. This is not true. If this were the case, why would employers waste their time and yours giving you an assessment test as part of the screening process? There are right answers on an employment personality test—the ones that will help you get the job. There are also wrong answers—the ones that will remove you from the applicant pool.

To understand what those answers are, we need to look at what most job personality tests are looking for. The company Psychometric Success, which sells books designed to help job seekers pass employment assessment tests, has identified these as traits employers find very undesirable:

  • Dishonesty
  • Lack of Integrity
  • Inability to Control Anger
  • Inability to Cope with Stress

So, you need to answer employment assessment test questions in a way that makes it clear you lack the most serious undesirable traits. Psychometric Success offers advice for each trait. We’ll break it down section by section.

Honesty and Integrity
You want to communicate steadfast moral views on what is right and wrong.

Always strongly agree with these types of statements:

  • Most people are honest by nature.
  • Employees who leave work early without permission are stealing.
  • Most people can be trusted.
  • Very few people steal at work.
  • If someone is undercharged in a shop they should tell the cashier.
  • Teenagers who shoplift should always be punished.
  • Most people have never shoplifted as teenagers.

Always strongly disagree with these kinds of statements:

  • Most people can not be trusted.
  • Nothing is wrong with taking home supplies from work now and then.
  • Teenagers often go through a shoplifting stage.
  • No one is the victim when you steal from your company.
  • It is human nature to steal from others.
  • I have taken merchandise from work.
  • The laws against shoplifting are too harsh.

Ability to Control Anger
You must not give any indication that you will become angry at work. You must also take a firm stance against vandalism, hacking, and other behavior considered anti-social.

Be sure to strongly agree with sentences like this:

  • I cannot remember the last time I lost my temper at work.
  • People who get angry at work should receive counseling.
  • I have almost never become angry at work.
  • People who know me would not say I had a temper.

Always strongly disagree with these kinds of statements:

  • Sometimes my co-workers annoy me.
  • Computer Hackers are punished too harshly.
  • It’s normal to lose your temper at work occasionally.
  • When driving, I sometimes get angry with other road users.

It is OK to disagree with the following kinds of statements:

  • I have never felt angry at a supervisor or manager.
  • I have never been annoyed with a co-worker.
  • I have always had the perfect job.

That’s because the three issues above are pretty much universal to the human experience. If you’ve ever had a job, you’ve felt angry at a supervisor or annoyed with a co-worker at some point, and your job hasn’t always been perfect. Disagreeing with those questions can make it seem like you’re either trying to fake the employment assessment questionnaire by looking perfect or are very detached from reality.

Now, what’s the difference between “Sometimes my co-workers annoy me” and “I have never been annoyed with a co-worker,” anyway? In general, questions that say “never” or “always” in regard to an emotion or extremely common problem should be disagreed with. Most people experience most emotions at one point or another and there is usually no social stigma associated with extremely common problems. The employment assessment tests just want to make sure you’re not annoyed often at work.

Ability to Cope with Stress
Ineffective stress management techniques can lead to health problems, which will cost your employer money, either when you use your employee health insurance, or when you take days off and build up tardies.

Agree or strongly agree with these types of questions:

  • I rarely worry about how well I’m doing at my job.
  • I have confidence in my ability to handle my work responsibilities.
  • I never get upset if my work is criticized by my manager.
  • I have a positive relationship with my co-workers.
  • I have never suffered physical symptoms due to stress at work.

Disagree or strongly disagree with questions similar to these:

  • Work is the most stressful thing in my life.
  • Sometimes I don’t feel able to handle all my work responsibilities.
  • I sometimes worry about losing my job because of office politics.
  • I have had counseling to help me cope with stress.
  • I have sometimes lost sleep worrying about work.

Again, it’s OK to disagree with statements like these:

  • I have never failed to complete a work assignment on time.
  • I have never been tired at work.
  • I have never arrived at work late.
  • I have never made a mistake at work.

Job assessment questionnaires don’t consider it acceptable to express negative emotions at work, but do consider it acceptable to experience them. So, rather than claiming you never have negative emotions or been in stressful work situations, claim you can handle them with a cool head.

Now, you may argue that it’s possible to not be a perfectly honest, calm, level-headed person and still be a good employee. That’s probably true, but employers who use these personality assessment tests are thinking in terms of large numbers of people. It’s not uncommon these days for a job ad posted online to get hundreds or even thousands of responses. The average applicant will be rejected because of their resume or maybe even cover letter, but that’s still going to leave a lot potential hires to deal with. If you don’t have time to call or interview each one, how do you choose? Employment assessment testing gives employers an easy way to whittle down the number of applicants. So, while you may not agree with employment assessment testing, knowing which test responses to avoid can help keep you in the small pool of applicants that survive the first few elimination rounds.

Now that you know which traits are considered undesirable, stay tuned — the Part 2 of this Article on employment assessment testing will tell you which attributes companies want to see on employment assessment tests.

The more immersed in your role you become, the more tasks and projects you end up taking on. In theory, at least, that’s how you pick up the experience to get promoted, then hand off lower-level assignments to others.

But it doesn’t always work that way in practice. Many companies are still trying to squeeze more out of fewer employees, in what some experts see as a symptom of the lingering economic hangover from the last financial crisis.

Whatever their cause, mounting workloads are a fact of life for many of us, and keeping them in check can be a constant struggle. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, employees are growing more dissatisfied with their work-life balance, and a separate study found that the 40-hour workweek is in retreat, with some 46% of people in management positions around the world saying they’re putting in more hours than they did five years ago.

So how can you stem the tide of more work and longer hours? Start by taking these steps to better manage your workload. And if you still feel on the verge of burnout, follow the plan for getting some of the work off your plate for good.

How To Get A Better Handle On Your Work

1. Determine where you max out. Before you can start making changes to how you manage your workload, you first need to figure out where your upper limit lies. If you’re starting to lose motivation in your work, feeling chronically exhausted, or butting heads with your colleagues, chances are you’ve already crossed that threshold and are nearing burnout.

In that case, don’t start tweaking your working habits before getting your mind-set back on track. Be a little more selfish, even if only in small doses. Simple habits like meditating for 10 minutes each day and short, regular bursts of exercise can provide benefits to your wellbeing that are far out of proportion with the time it actually takes to do them.

Read more: The Secrets To Recognizing And Avoiding Burnout

2. Get back in touch with the big picture. Prioritizing is about perspective. It starts with accepting that there are some things you might not–indeed, probably won’t–be able to accomplish in the limited time available to you. You need to embrace that, not resist it, then turn it to your advantage.

To do so, first distinguish between urgent and important tasks. Chances are, nothing on your to-do list will strike you as fundamentally unimportant; if that were the case, prioritizing wouldn’t really be an issue. Separate the things that need your immediate attention from those that don’t, no matter how crucial they are in the mid- to long-term.

Read more: 4 Odd Yet Effective Ways The Smartest People Prioritize Their Days

3. Try new tools. According to productivity expert Carson Tate, many organizational tools and methods fail because they assume all users struggle to stay on task for the same reasons. But that isn’t true. Instead, she says, “We need to personalize our strategies for making the most out of our workdays so they’re aligned with our cognitive styles.”

According to Tate, most of us fall into one of four categories:

  1. Logical, analytical, linear, and data-oriented
  2. Organized, sequential, a planner, and detail-oriented
  3. Supportive, expressive, and emotionally oriented
  4. Big-picture, integrative, and ideation-oriented

There are certain tools–from apps to low-tech solutions like legal pads–that fit some of those personality types better than others. If your workload is getting away from you, take this short test to find out your working style, then consult Tate’s list of productivity tools that play to your strengths.

Read more: Chronically Unproductive? It’s Not You, It’s Your Tools

How To Ask For Help When All Else Fails

You’ve tried all that, and you’re still flailing. The good news is that (unless you’re a freelancer) there are people in your organization whose job it is to help you do your best. They’re called bosses, and while asking for help can feel like admitting failure, you won’t be doing yourself or your company any favors by pretending all is well when it isn’t.

There are a few ways to set boundaries that can prevent too much work from landing in your lap. Psychologist Karissa Thacker suggests employees ask themselves these two questions when they’re assigned new tasks:

  1. Am I the best person to take this on?
  2. Who else can I enlist to partner and collaborate with on this?

That can restore some agency to overloaded workers who still want to seize opportunities to take on greater responsibilities. And if you can answer those questions, you can then go back to your supervisor with practical alternatives to you handling that new project all on your own, if at all.

And sometimes, of course, you do need to say no. A good rule of thumb to help you avoid coming off lazy or whiny is to frame your reasons for declining more work in terms of what’s best for your team. Maybe taking on a new project will detract from other important tasks.

If your boss disagrees with your logic, calmly figure out the reasons why. As author and social scientist Joseph Grenny toldFast Company, it’s important to “acknowledge what you know to be true and tell your boss how it caused your conclusion. Ask how your boss came to her conclusion. If you’re simply in a no-yes argument, you’re arguing conclusions, not facts.”

Being overworked can feel isolating, like you’re no longer part of your team. If you can’t show your boss that you’re capable of working together on a solution, that feeling could become a reality.

Related: Can You Combat Burnout?

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