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Behavioral Testing: Key Personality Traits for Success


It takes more than skill to be the right fit for a position. Some applicants might have the knowledge and abilities to solve tasks, but their behavior and how they cooperate with others could leave something to be desired.

That’s why 34% of employers use some form of a personality test in their hiring process.

Personality assessments and behavioral testing reveal the behavioral tendencies of your job candidates in potential work scenarios. The outcome of combining these tests with other pre-employment assessments is a clearer, more detailed picture of your applicants’ soft and hard skills.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the traits measured by behavioral assessments, how to interpret your candidates’ scores, and how to best follow up on their test results during the HR interview.

Table of Contents

What Do Behavioral Tests Actually Measure?

Behavioral testing doesn’t reveal whether an applicant has the knowledge or ability to perform the job. Instead, it allows you to see how someone would act in a hypothetical workplace environment.

For example, if you are looking for a salesperson, the candidate should have previous sales experience, market knowledge, and advanced communication skills. But that does not necessarily mean that any candidate with these attributes will be a good fit for your company.

What if a person with good work experience, knowledge, and skills lacks empathy, confidence, persistence, or patience? Is hiring an extrovert over an introvert in this case beneficial for your company?

Behavioral assessments determine who has the specific personality traits required by the position. These are some common personality characteristics assessed through behavioral testing:


A person’s adaptability reflects their level of flexibility and openness to change. This personality trait is desirable if you need someone to work in a fast-paced environment with frequent priority shifts. As Jennifer Orechwa writes, adaptable people are much better stress managers, because they “embrace change as an opportunity.”

If your company is undergoing organizational changes (most are), adaptable employees should smoothly transition into new duties and responsibilities. The need for a flexible employee has never been greater with today’s rapid economic changes.

If an applicant scores low on adaptability, that would mean they are less likely to change their ways, which can translate poorly to daily work situations in more dynamic offices. If the adaptability score is high, the candidate is more likely to quickly adjust to new work conditions or handle unexpected tasks.


A person’s assertiveness refers to the degree to which they tend to assume control in group situations, such as meetings or collaborative projects. Most managerial and sales positions, for example, should require the candidate to be assertive, as these roles are best performed by people with those traits.

If your respondents have a lower score, they might be less likely to stand up, take the lead, and speak for themselves or the whole group. Participants that score within the moderate range could decide to step forward, but would require a specific situation or incentive to do so.

Candidates that score high on assertiveness tend to be more confident and decisive than others and may be better suited for future leadership roles.


Assessing a candidate’s competitiveness will show you their level of desire to beat the competition. Their competitiveness score shows you how ambitious your candidates are, which is especially important for jobs that entail benchmarks and goal achievement, such as sales positions. Competitiveness is also important if you’re looking for candidates who can later grow out of their role and advance to higher positions.

Still, it’s good to remember that applicants who score low on competitiveness aren’t any less driven to succeed than those who score high.

This is because competition in the workplace can be just as much of a work deterrent as it can be productive. According to recent research, 25% of employees have had their motivation negatively impacted by a competitive workplace. These candidates should not be seen as slackers. They often, in fact, make for valuable team players.


For positions that need independent thinkers with a go-getter attitude, pay attention to your candidates’ confidence scores.

Employees should be confident in their actions and choices, especially when it comes to those in managerial positions. People in charge need a high level of healthy self-assurance to perform the job well.

People that score lower on this test are more affected by what their environment thinks about them. So, less confident employees might have problems expressing themselves when discussing important work topics with partners, clients, and customers. If you are looking for someone who will need to represent your company on a daily or weekly basis, a low confidence score is not a positive sign.

However, keep in mind that confidence can be learned. Some candidates might need a little bit more time to make their voice heard – that doesn’t mean they should be taken out of the equation based just on their behavioral test score


Leadership skills are necessary for supervisors, managers, and other higher positions.

As many great leaders will tell you, this behavioral trait doesn’t only translate to the tendency to guide others, but also to provide them with additional information and support.

Candidates with high scores will have the ability, interest, and tendency to take charge. However, candidates who score low on leadership aptitude will not be likely to step up to such a position even if provided the opportunity.


Teamwork inclination refers to how willing the applicant is to tailor their work to the rest of the team, in order to achieve group goals. The tendency towards teamwork, as a behavioral trait, also reveals which applicants are likely to exchange useful information with their peers, contribute to projects, and boost team morale.

A positive teamwork attitude is, of course, highly appreciated across all industries and positions. Still, applicants who score low on teamwork can still bring value to your company. Even though they might prefer to work independently, they may need less guidance and support from others to do the job well.

For example, sales representatives, copywriters, researchers, or consultants do not typically need a great teamwork score to do great work.

Stress tolerance

Your candidate’s stress tolerance score will reveal how they are most likely to behave in stressful work-related situations. Conflicts can arise between co-workers or employees and customers, and behavioral testing will show you if your candidate has the capacity to manage their stress and stay calm.

The work environment today is packed with pressure – the 2022 Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report has found that 60% of its survey respondents feel “emotionally detached” while at work. 19% reported feeling consistently “miserable.” Multitasking, the necessity to achieve demanding goals, or interacting with customers can all trigger stress.

Respondents who score low on stress tolerance may not do well under pressure, and you should think twice whether to consider them for stress-inducing roles such as customer service. Stress is less of a factor for candidates with a higher tolerance, and you’ll be able to count on them even in particularly intense situations.

When searching to fill any job position, you should consider the ideal behavioral profile for the role. With EmployTest, you can even create a custom behavioral assessment that can help you hire a person with personality traits that exactly match your work environment and job requirements.

But how can you use the behavior testing results to drive your hiring process?

Behavioral Assessment Interview Questions

The results of behavioral testing will provide you with a general picture of your candidate’s personality.

Then, during the job interview, you can use the results to fill in the gaps of the assessment. To do this, it’s important to prepare quality questions. Here are some of the possible questions to use for assessing different behavioral qualities:

How often do you change your way of thinking? Is it hard to change your opinion? Describe a work-related situation where you had to adapt to the group even though your views were different.

Describe a workplace situation where you had to change your ways to complete a challenge.

Is being assertive with customers and co-workers comfortable for you? Describe a situation where you were out of your comfort zone.

When could you have been more assertive?

How much do you want to win? How do you handle defeat? Did you learn anything from that loss? Describe a situation when you failed short to beat the competition.

Are you willing to take risks in order to win? Have you ever decided not to take a risk on something, even though it was necessary to succeed?

Do you ask someone for advice before making a decision, or are you able to decide on your own? Describe your decision-making process.

Were you afraid that others would look at you differently after you made a decision that affected them? How certain were you that it was the right decision?

Describe a work-related situation where you had to follow others instead of leading the team? How did that make you feel?

Why do you think you prefer being the leader? How would you feel if someone replaced you as a leader?

Were you ever upset with a co-worker whose poor performance hurt the team? How did you communicate with that person? Describe the situation.

When team morale is low, do you take action to improve it? How would you boost the confidence of your teammates?

What was your reaction after a stressful work-related situation? How long did it take to compose yourself and carry on?

Would you say that stressful situations have a lasting impact on you? Retell a situation from your professional career that you overcame by being calm.

To Sum Up

Behavioral testing is essential to making informed hiring decisions.

This type of assessment reveals information that cannot be extracted from resumes or cover letters. Instead, it helps you understand how your potential employees would behave in theoretical workplace situations. With behavioral tests, you can find the person who will not only thrive in their role, but also boost your team’s overall performance.

EmployTest specializes in pre-employment assessments – check out our free sample behavioral test, and contact us to learn more about how we can help your hiring process.