What is the NEO Personality Inventory?

The Revised NEO Personality Inventory, named such due to the name of its original version (the Neuroticism-Extraversion-Openness Inventory), is a psychometric testing tool used internationally for pre-employment assessment throughout the recruitment process, as well as being used for general personality testing. It can also be used as an indicator of which prospective career paths best fit an individual, and has demonstrated a capability in identifying the personality traits of both adolescents and adults with great accuracy.

The NEO Personality Inventory is also widely known as the Big Five Personality test as a result of its use of the five-factor model of personality model. Prepterminal’s NEO Personality Inventory preparation pack comes with text and video modules as well as practice tests in order to ensure that you are fully prepared for this assessment.

Personality Factors Assessed by the NEO Personality Inventory

The NEO Personality Inventory measures 5 main personality dimensions, which are comprised of 6 facets each:

  • Neuroticism
    • Anxiety
    • Hostility
    • Depression
    • Self-consciousness
    • Impulsiveness
    • Vulnerability to Stress
  • Extraversion
    • Warmth
    • Gregariousness
    • Assertiveness
    • Activity
    • Excitement-Seeking
    • Positive Emotion
  • Openness to experience
    • Fantasy
    • Aesthetics
    • Feelings
    • Actions
    • Ideas
    • Values
  • Agreeableness
    • Trust
    • Straightforwardness
    • Altruism
    • Compliance
    • Modesty
    • Tender-mindedness
  • Conscientiousness
    • Competence
    • Order
    • Dutifulness
    • Achievement-Striving
    • Self-Discipline
    • Deliberation

Personality Inventories and the Five-Factor Model

The different renditions of the NEO Personality Inventory have both longer and shorter versions.
The full NEO PI-R consists of 240 items, providing detailed scores on each facet. It is untimed and usually takes between 60-90 minutes to complete.
The short version, the NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) consists of 60 items, covering the five personality factors without additional details on each facet – there are 12 questions per personality factor. The test is also untimed, taking around 10-15 minutes to complete.

How is the NEO Personality Inventory Scored?

Once the test is completed, a report will be issued to you, your employer or both parties. This summarizes every element assessed in the test (the 5 factors and all facets in the NEO PI-R, and the 5 factors only in the NEO-FFI), marked as either Low, Medium or High for each element, giving a brief description of the strengths associated with that score.

Reports are presented in an easy-to-understand visual format, for ease of interpretation for both the test-taker and prospective employer. A score is given from 1-100 for each trait and (where applicable) each facet. A short explanation of each score is provided.

It should, however, be noted that the accuracy of the test is highly contingent upon the honesty of the test-taker. For this reason, it is not possible to successfully apply this test to those who have psychopathology or those who are adept at deceiving others about their internal thought processes. Because of this, it is common to combine both self-report data and external observation of an individual in order to gauge the accuracy of the report.
As a safeguard against dishonesty in the exam, if more than 150 or less than 50 responses are ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ then the results will be flagged in the report as requiring the discretion of the reader as a result of uncertainty over the potential honesty of the candidate. Additionally, the assessment will not be evaluated if more than 40 items are unanswered.

For a greater insight into the manner in which the NEO Personality Inventory is scored, Prepterminal’s expert psychometricians have produced a test preparation course with text and video modules to ensure that you fully understand the contents of the test in advance, so you may enter with full confidence in your own knowledge.

Validity of the NEO Personality Inventory

A driving factor behind the widespread use of the NEO Personality Inventory by employers is the academic consensus on the validity of results. It is seen that results from the NEO Personality Inventory correlate with those of other personality inventories as one would expect, most notably with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and John Holland’s ‘Self-Directed Search’. In addition, criterion validity (simply put, the manner in which the criteria of the inventory is reflected in the real world) is extremely well-regarded in the NEO Personality Inventory: the personality factor results given have been found to be significant predictors for various factors, such as the manner in which Conscientiousness predicts the GPA of college students and how Neuroticism is a strong predictor of computer anxiety.

It is also well-documented that the scales used in the NEO Personality Inventory are stable across different countries and cultures. That being said, while the stability is highly consistent cross-culturally, it has been observed that the dimensions of neuroticism, openness and conscientiousness are cross-culturally valid, while extraversion and agreeableness are more culturally sensitive. This is, of course, to be expected – there is a great deal of research to indicate differences in extraversion and agreeableness between cultures. For instance, it has been found that those from Italy display a great deal of extraversion, owed to the nationally-valued sense of gregariousness, while those from Great Britain are found to be far less extraverted but more agreeable in discourse. To this end, the fact that these two factors are culturally relative should not necessarily be taken to be a problem with the assessment.

The real-world application of the NEO Personality Inventory is exactly why it is widely applied by employers; the metrics gathered by the inventory are tried and tested to be accurate predictors of the behaviors it purports to predict, and as such it is an invaluable tool to employers in selecting appropriate candidates for employment.

How to Prepare for the NEO Personality Inventory

While the NEO Personality Inventory does not come with an outright pass/fail result, it has been observed across many sittings of this examination and the resulting decisions taken by employers that there are certain strategies which are favorable when taking the exam. The test is intended to assess the candidate’s personality traits – by understanding the questions and exactly what they reflect a candidate can more accurately showcase the positive elements of their own personality which are considered by employers to be desirable. Prepterminal’s comprehensive NEO Personality Test course provides you with the resources and know-how to present yourself accurately and favorably to prospective employers, getting you one step closer to that dream job.