In recent years, the use of personality tests has become widespread, whether to improve recruiting or to support internal talent development… Today, it has reached a point where one-out-of-three recruitment agencies and one-out-of-four companies use these tests to improve the reliability of their recruitment processes and to secure employee mobility!

If you already use or have used this type of solution, then you KNOW that the interview – to go over the results with the candidate and hear their feedback – is an absolutely ESSENTIAL part in addition to the analysis of test results alone…

Want to get the most out of your personality test? Here are some key points to help you lead (much) more productive feedback interviews!

What a personality test (really) assesses…

The purpose of personality tests is to reveal the traits and behavioural tendencies that characterise a candidate. These traits are often derived from widely validated models such as the Big Five, the relevance of which has been demonstrated in particular by Barrick, M. R., & Mount M. K. (1991).

The limits of personality tests…

While personality tests are able to determine which traits characterise the candidate, they do not say how these traits will specifically manifest themselves once the candidate takes their position.

For example, it is one thing to know that a candidate is “creative”. It is quite another to know “how this creativity is going to manifest itself”.  Two individuals can have the same score on the “creativity” dimension. However, it’s a safe bet that these two individuals express their creativity differently!

Let’s go further!

To go beyond a simple observation (i.e. “My candidate is creative”) and give meaning to the results (“Does the way in which my candidate expresses their creativity correspond or not to what is expected in the position?”), it is appropriate to explore the results with the candidate during an interview that should be focused on behaviour.

The interview focused on behaviours

The objective of the behavioural interview is to get the candidate to give specific examples of how a particular trait directly impacts their behaviour on a daily basis.

The answers given by the candidate to your questions must therefore be “specific behaviours”.

Once these behaviours have been “collected”, it’s up to you to know if these behaviours are desirable (… or not!) in the context of the profession for which you are recruiting.

Note that you can also identify these desirable behaviours through a Predictive Recruitment technique.

Questions that work… and those that don’t!

When it comes to a behavioural interview, not all questions are equal!

Here are characteristics of “good” questions. Plus some of those “avoid-at-all-cost” questions!

The right questions are:


The right questions allow the candidate to clearly understand what is expected of them… namely to give examples of specific behaviours!

Example of an affirmative question:

“In what situations are you most comfortable taking leadership?”

(For contrast) Example of a negative question or negative interrogative:

“Aren’t there some situations that encourage you to take charge over others?”

The problem with negative questions is that they can be complicated to understand! Suddenly you end up losing the candidate. Always remember: anything that can interfere with understanding should be banned.



Good questions are questions that only examine or investigate one subject at a time.

Example of a simple question:

“How does your enthusiasm manifest itself on a daily basis?”

(For contrast) Example of a multi-pronged question:

“Can you tell me how your enthusiasm manifests itself on a daily basis as well as how it affects the quality of your relationships with others, especially your team?”

Multi-pronged questions present a major risk… namely that the candidate answers only part of the questions asked! Why not ask your candidate several questions, one after the other?



Good questions allow candidates to position themselves without being constrained by broad ‘yes’ and ‘no’ or ‘A’ and ‘B’ answers. An open question leaves room for the candidate to express themselves more fully.

Example of an open question:

“In what context do you feel most comfortable working?”

(For contrast) Example of a closed question:

“Do you prefer to work in an SME or a large company?”

The problem with closed questions is that they depend on the candidate’s ability and willingness to bounce back and develop…

If the candidate wants to answer YES or NO to a closed question, nothing prevents it! On the other hand, when faced with an open-ended question, they are obliged to develop at least a little bit further!



Good questions do not contain any indication towards an expected answer. A non-directed question is one in which it is impossible to “read ahead”. If the candidate can somehow guess what the expected answer is, your question is probably directive.

Example of an non-directed question:

“Could you give me an example of a situation in which you had to use your organisational skills? What was it? How did you go about it?”

(For contrast) Example of a directive question:

“Organisational skills are particularly valued in our company. They’re even a part of our DNA! How about you? How do you see yourself organisationally?”

The problem with directive questions is that they control the type of answer that the candidate should give. Often, this type of question makes it possible to know more about the person asking it than about the behaviour of the respondent.


Focused on fact-finding

The right questions make it possible to collect examples of specific behaviours (facts) that the candidate is likely to exhibit in the context of their professional activity.

Example of a question focused on fact finding:

“Give me an example of a situation where you had to deal with an unhappy customer? What was the problem? What response did you give?”

(For contrast) Example of non-fact finding questions:

>> Appealing to the candidate’s imagination…

“Imagine you were faced with a difficult customer; how would you deal with the problem?”

This question appeals to the candidate’s imagination, to their representational capacities. We aren’t asking whether they have had an opportunity to demonstrate a behaviour but rather how they think they would react in the event that the fictitious situation were to arise.

The purpose of the behavioural interview is not to collect impressions or representations but facts!

>> Soliciting the candidate’s opinion

“Based on your test results, you seem rather focused on details… what do you think?”

This question aims to obtain the candidate’s approval (or disapproval) vis-à-vis the test results… but this is not desirable! You don’t have a candidate take a personality test to see if they agree or not with the results.


The ultimate question

There is one question that often works, nearly every time! The point of this question is that it is affirmative, open, non-directed, fact-finding… and it works to validate any personality trait!

“Can you to tell me how your creativity (perseverance / leadership / empathy… or any other trait you want to validate) is expressed in your work?”

Another example:

“Can you give me an example of a situation where you were able to be creative?”

In general, 2 types of questions should be favoured:

# 1 – Questions that aim to identify how one (or another) personality trait manifests itself specifically in the workplace (behaviours).

# 2 – Questions that aim to identify the type of situation that favours the expression of a particular behaviour (triggering situation).