About SHL

CEB, formally known as Saville & Holdsworth Ltd. (SHL), was a UK-based psychometric test developer providing international online services. Their tests are used by employers to evaluate and compare a number of abilities in job candidates, and cover numerical, verbal and diagrammatic reasoning tests, inductive reasoning tests, personality questionnaires, and motivation questionnaires, delivered either online or on paper. The company operates in over 30 languages, deploys solutions in over 150 countries and maintains a presence in over 50 countries, and is a trusted partner to 90% of the Fortune 500, nearly 75% of the Dow Jones Asian Titans and over 85% of the FTSE 100.

CEB was acquired by Gartner in April 2017 in a $2.6bn deal. On July 16, 2018, the CEB brand was phased out and fully integrated into Gartner. The SHL tests remain as a psychometric tool, now under the branch of Gartner.

SHL Personality Test

With college graduation rates rising year after year, almost half of all US employers utilize occupational personality tests to filter out the best candidates. Amongst the most widely-used of these tests is the Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ), also known as the SHL Personality Test or OPQ32.

The OPQ is a traits-based test which gives employers an insight into the behavior styles of candidates so that they may predict how their personality may affect work performance. By understanding these facets of a candidate, employers may make informed decisions as to who offers value to an organization and subsequently who should be hired.

These tests are built upon the concept of the Big Five Personality Traits:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

The OPQ measures 32 personality traits, spread across 7 sub-categories within 3 main categories.

  1. Relationships with People
    • Influence: Persuasive, Controlling, Outspoken, Independent
    • Sociability: Outgoing, Affiliative, Socially Confident
    • Empathy: Modest, Democratic, Caring
  2. Thinking Style
    • Analysis: Data Rational, Evaluative, Behavioral
    • Creativity and Change: Conventional, Conceptual, Innovative, Variety Seeking, Change Adaptable
    • Structure: Forward Thinking, Detail Conscious, Conscientious, Rule Following
  3. Feelings and Emotions
    • Emotions: Relaxed, Worrying, Tough Minded, Optimistic, Trusting, Emotionally Controlled
    • Dynamism: Vigorous, Competitive, Achieving, Decisive

Assessed together, these 32 dimensions are used to predict critical areas of job performance based on the key competencies required on the job. The SHL Personality Test provides in-depth reporting on competency using the 20 key competencies from the Universal Competency Framework (UCF):

  1. Leading & Deciding: Deciding & Initiating Action, Leading & Supervising

  2. Supporting & Cooperating: Working with People, Adhering to Principles and Values

  3. Interacting & Presenting: Relating & Networking, Persuading & Influencing, Presenting & Communicating Information

  4. Analysis & Interpreting: Writing & Reporting, Applying Expertise & Technology, Analysing

  5. Creating & Conceptualizing: Learning & Researching, Creating & Innovating, Formulating Strategies & Concepts

  6. Organizing & Executing: Planning & Organising, Delivering Results and Meeting Customer Expectations, Following Instructions and Procedures

  7. Adapting & Coping: Adapting & Responding to Change, Coping with Pressure & Setbacks

  8. Enterprising & Performing: Achieving Personal Work Goals and Objectives, Entrepreneurial & Commercial Thinking

OPQ Assessment Structure

The OPQ test is taken online, and has three formats:

  1. OPQ32r
  2. OPQ32i
  3. OPQ32n

The OPQ32r and OPQ32i are the ipsative versions of the test, with the former being the shorter version of the two, and the OPQ32n is the normative version. Both tests are delivered in a forced-choice format.

In the ipsative versions of the test, the candidate must answer 104 questions in which they are presented with blocks of statements (3 blocks in the OPQ32r and 4 statements in the OPQ32i), from which they must select which statement sounds most like them and which sounds least like them. These tests are untimed, and take around 25-40 minutes to complete.


The OPQ32n, being a normative test, presents the candidate with 416 statements which are to be ranked between 5 grades, rang{ing from ‘Strongly Agree’ to ‘Strongly Disagree’. This test is also untimed, but takes around 45-60 minutes to complete.


OPQ Assessment Results

When the OPQ Assessment has been completed, a report is generated to provide employers with the required information to make informed recruitment decisions. These reports can come in a number of formats:

  • Managerial and Professional Profile Chart: An in-depth graphical representation of the candidate’s results

  • Manager Report: A brief written report describing the candidate’s personality

  • User Report: Both a graphical and written overview of the candidate’s personality

The information taken from the report will be used by the employer in selection of employees, so it’s vital that candidates seeking to do well in the screening process take the time to become familiar with the assessment so that they may effectively display their best traits to prospective employers.

Prepterminal’s SHL Personality Test preparation pack provides all the resources required to put your best foot forward and impress prospective employers. Making use of text/video based modules in a structured study course alongside practice tests to measure and benchmark your progress, this package is a one-stop shop for test success.

How to Prepare for the SHL Personality Test

A widely-accepted myth about personality tests is that there is no right or wrong answer, and that there is subsequently no way to prepare or improve performance in such an assessment. This is patently untrue. If there were no correct manner in which to approach a personality test, then they would not be used for the purpose of job screening. Every employer deploying this assessment does so with the purpose of identifying individuals with desired key traits – the trick to preparing for this assessment is to identify which traits are sought after and figuring out how best to display these traits. Additionally, the presentation of a high volume of questions containing a lot of information can prove to be cognitively challenging, especially under stress. This further strengthens the need for practice in order to find success in these tests.

To this end, the key to preparation is studying the test in depth and taking practice tests to find out whether the desired results are being achieved. There is a highly subjective element to this – the candidate must identify the traits which may be required in that particular job role so that they can learn to showcase the traits desired in such a position.

Prepterminal’s SHL Personality Test preparation pack provides the components required for a comprehensive preparation. Featuring a text/video module-based structured study course with SHL Personality practice tests to ensure that you are displaying the version of yourself you wish employers to see, this pack is a vital component in ensuring the success of your application.

Put your best foot forward and impress prospective employers with Prepterminal, your partner in test success.

SHL Personality Test Tips

  • This test is not a measure of ability
  • Make an effort to identify the traits desired in the job role for which you are applying, so that you may adjust your responses accordingly
  • Ensure that you take the test in a quiet place so that you may concentrate
  • Ensure that you start the test with enough time to complete it
  • Take practice tests to make sure you are showing what you want employers to see