Prepare for the SHL OPQ Personality Test: Full Guide 2021

Last updated 06/2021

The Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) assessment was developed to provide organizations with insight into how features of an individual’s behavioral style will impact their work performance.

Prepterminal’s OPQ study guide will assist you in your preparation for the OPQ personality test. We will walk you through all aspects of the SHL OPQ test, so that you know what to expect and how best to prepare for the OPQ. Let’s start!

What is the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire and how is it Used?

The Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ), also known as the SHL Personality Test or OPQ32 is a popular psychometric evaluation used all over the world to assess workplace characteristics and behavior.

The OPQ test is used to assess all levels of employees, from graduate positions to top management. This test is designed to evaluate 32 personality traits of a potential employee.

The OPQ was created by Saville and is issued by CEB SHL Talent Management. Companies use the OPQ in the following ways to help them throughout the hiring process:

  • Isolates the most appropriate applicants for a given job
  • Betters interview success rates
  • Finds future leaders
  • Re-deploys talented individuals throughout the business
  • Develops successful project teams
  • Assesses the talent pool after an acquisition/merger/restructure
  • Oversees the transformation of a technical specialist to a successful people manager

What does SHL OPQ Measure?

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.

What are Three Different Versions of the OPQ and how does it Work?

There are three version of the OPQ test:

  • OPQ32n (Normative)
  • OPQ32i (Ipsative)
  • OPQ32r (shorter ipsative format)

Let’s take a look at each of these tests individually.

OPQ32n (Normative)
The normative version of the OPQ asks the test-taker to respond to behavioral statements using a scale that goes from 1-5. The test-taker needs to reflect on the extent of their agreement or disagreement to every statement.

Tests takers need to respond to 416 questions, within a time-frame of approximately 45-60 minutes. Their responses are juxtaposed against a relevant group of individuals (for example a ‘graduate comparison group’ or a ‘managerial and professional comparison group’) who have taken the assessment before. The test-taker’s score will be compared to the scores of the individuals within these groups to see how they rank in comparison to them.

OPQ32i (Ipsative)
This version of the OPQ takes the form of 104 quads. Each quad features four statements, forming a total of 416 questions. A test-taker needs to choose two statements – one that is ‘least’ like them and one that is ‘most’ like them. The ipsative part of this assessment is the forced choice aspect, where the test-taker must choose two statements. This makes it hard for the test-taker to bias the questionnaire. This is a more favored format by employers than the normative version.

Some example statements that could appear on the ipsative quad are as follows:

  • I like working with others
  • I enjoy planning my work in advance
  • I like meeting other people
  • I am considerate to others’ needs

The ipsative OPQ assessment may take longer to complete than the normative version. This is because test-takers need to decide which statement is most and least like them, in all of the quads.

OPQ32r (shorter ipsative format)
This is the most recent and widely used version of the OPQ assessment. It is like the OPQ32i as it employs a forced-choice format. However, it gives test-takers three (rather than four) statements to choose from. Again test-takers need to decide which statement is the ‘most’ and least’ like them. There are a total of 312 statements. So it is shorter than the other versions of the OPQ and quicker to complete.

What Employers See in the OPQ Report and what Feedback you should Expect

There are multiple reporting choices that come with the OPQ32. The variety of reports means that results can be interpreted according to the goals of both the managers and HR departments. Some types of reports are:

  • Manager Plus Report
  • Development Action Planner
  • Candidate Plus Report
  • Universal Competency Report
  • Sales Report
  • Leadership Report

These reports are relevant as they go into detail, are user friends, and show the development areas and strengths clearly, in relation to the area of job expertise.

Feedback you should expect from the employer
As an applicant, you should get feedback from your prospective employer according to your OPQ test responses. The SHL recommends this. All candidates should be given some sort of meaningful feedback once they submit their OPQ. However, not all employers follow these guidelines.

If you are asked to attend a feedback session, you may be shown teh OPQ Candidate Report. This report will give you a narrative interpretation of your results based on the OPQ profile. The profile is a technical document that needs a trained user to interpret. In addition to the report, you may be given verbal feedback from a trainer user. If you have any questions about your results you should contact a trained user, and arrange a feedback session with your employer.

You can read the OPQ Candidate Report and talk about it with the feedback provider. This way you can see if you believe the results are reflective of you.

6 Key Facts about the SHL OPQ Test

There are multiple reporting choices that come with the OPQ32. The variety of reports means that results can be interpreted according to the goals of both the managers and HR departments. Some types of reports are:

  1. The SHL OPQ test measures your preferences (personality) and style to see how they meet the requirements of the job role.
  2. The OPQ does NOT measure your ability.
  3. Employers use the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire to place applicants with the most fitting style and personality profile according to the job role requirements.
  4. Take the time to understand your work personality prior to taking the OPQ test with any potential employer.
  5. The OPQ assessment is a self-report questionnaire completed online.
  6. Be consistent with your answers during the test.

Tips on how to Prepare for SHL’s OPQ Personality Test

1. Persistence
Personality questionnaires are not developed to test your ability, however, they can be quite challenging because of their length, and the degree of introspection they demand. It is of key importance that you sustain your focus and are able to push on through all the test questions and answer them as accurately as possible. Although personality tests can seem mundane they are very informative recruitment tools and should be approached with seriousness.

2. Pace Yourself
Personality questionnaires have no time limits, primarily because the test administrators want to give candidates enough time to make an accurate assessment of their personality. Take your time when sitting your personality exam and give yourself the freedom to consider your answer before you respond.

3. Research
Make an effort to identify the traits desired in the job role for which you are applying, so that you can adjust your responses accordingly. A good place to start is the job advertisement. This may give you insight into what qualities the employer is looking for in a candidate.

4. Make Yourself Comfortable
Ensure that you take the test in a quiet place so that you can concentrate. You may need to create a small work area for yourself in your home. Also, if you live with other people make sure they are not around to disturb you when you are taking the test. Before you start the test, ensure that you will have enough time to complete it. You don’t want to become pressured for a time during the exam.

5. Practice
Take practice tests to make sure you know your strengths and how to show the traits you want your prospective employer to see. The more you practice the better. Through practice, you will learn how to present the most suitable characteristics of your personality.

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Prepare for the SHL OPQ Personality Test: Full Guide 2021

Last updated 06/2021

The Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) assessment was developed to provide organizations with insight into how features of an individual’s behavioral style will impact their work performance.

Prepterminal’s OPQ study guide will assist you in your preparation for the OPQ personality test. We will walk you through all aspects of the SHL OPQ test, so that you know what to expect and how best to prepare for the OPQ. Let’s start!