Updated 10 July 2020
The Caliper Test is one of a range of personality tools developed primarily to assist employers in selecting appropriate candidates for a range of different roles.
The Caliper assessment has been in existence for more than 50 years. Created by the talent management company Caliper, the test builds on the work of prominent psychologists such as Raymond Cattell, Frank Warburton and others.
Personality testing has been around for a very long time, though testing as we would recognize it today was pioneered in the 1920s. Originally used to test suitability for a range of different military roles, today personality tests are used for recruitment, personnel training and career development.
The Caliper test is widely regarded as one of the leading personality tests available, offering a comprehensive and accurate assessment of a range of different variables.
Employers increasingly want to know a little about your personality before they hire you.
The Caliper test is used by companies from many different sectors. Personality traits aren't just important in person-facing positions; having a trustworthy personality, for example, can be a real asset in finance or safety-related occupations.
For this reason, the list of companies which use the Caliper test includes medical providers through to accountants, manufacturers (including those which make aircraft, autos, lab instruments, electronics, robotics, food and beverages), financiers, transportation services and services for business-process outsourcing.
Because Caliper assessment questions are designed to measure a wide range of different attributes, the results of the test can be used to inform selection for a spectrum of different positions.
Some of the larger corporations that routinely employ Caliper testing include:
It is unlikely that you would be asked to complete Caliper testing for an entry-level or unskilled position. More commonly, the Caliper test is administered to senior executives, section leaders, specialists or other individuals who will hold significant responsibilities within a company.
For these types of positions, competition will be intense. Often candidates will be highly qualified, experienced and skilled, with plenty to bring to the table. In these situations, personality will determine which candidate is going to be the best fit for the job, organizational culture and team.
Where suitability for a position is as much about ‘fit’ as technical ability or relevant experience, Caliper testing can bring added value, by offering an insight into an individual’s personality.
Caliper testing itself isn't usually a deal-breaker when it comes to determining suitability, but it is a valuable tool for bringing additional information to the decision-making process. This is particularly helpful in jobs where there may be little to distinguish candidates in terms of their experience or qualifications.
The test may be taken online or in paper format; both formats contain the same questions and will yield the same information. There are 180 questions in multiple-choice format, all of which must be answered. No time limit is given to complete the set of questions, although most people find they need between two and three hours to answer the test in its entirety.
There are several different question formats, but almost all require that the candidate choose between a number of different responses. For example, a candidate may be asked: ‘What describes you best?’. Potential answers may be: ‘I am responsible’, ‘I am resourceful’, ‘I am a leader’ or ‘I have great communication skills’. Candidates will be required to pick the one they feel best mirrors their personality.
In addition, there are some puzzles and problem-solving tasks contained within the test.
When the answers are marked, they are presented as a series of scores to indicate a variety of different personality traits.
There are four main aspects of personality which are covered by the Caliper test:
Within each of these categories, there are a number of characteristics, each of which receives a score from the test.
Although there is no ’wrong’ type of profile to have as a result of taking the test, some profiles are going to be more in line with what employers are looking for than others.
With appropriate coaching and input, it's possible to work on your test answers so that they more accurately reflect the inner qualities that you want employers to see. With assistance, most people who are required to take the Caliper test can improve their performance by ensuring that they present themselves optimally throughout the testing process.
If you've been asked to take a Caliper test and are eager to show your potential employer that you're the right person for the job, additional coaching can be of benefit.
It is important to stress that the Caliper test is not the be-all and end-all of the recruitment process. Many factors go into the decision-making process including experience, skills and qualifications, enthusiasm, salary demanded, how quickly you can start and several other variables.
The role of the Caliper test is normally to bring added depth to the interview process. For example, if a candidate is asked during an interview to describe a situation where they acted in a leadership role, their answer can be compared against their Caliper test results in to suggest whether their interview response reflected their general attitude towards leadership, or was simply a well-chosen snapshot.
The Caliper test might also be used to assess a candidate or existing employee for their future potential in a role, by assessing whether they might have a natural affinity for success in a role due to their personality type. In a similar way, it can identify areas where employees might need further training.
The Caliper test can also be helpful when it comes to obtaining balance within a team in order to achieve optimal outcomes. For example, if a team assigned to a particular project is deficient in individuals with a detail-orientated approach, or those with the ability to solve an abstract problem, recruiters will probably view someone showing these qualities as a more favorable proposition for the job. They might also be looking to create a team with personality types that are known to work well together.
In general, the test has been found to have a surprisingly high degree of predictive accuracy. In part, this is because the ideal profile for a particular job is taken from the results of individuals who are high-fliers in their particular industry.
These ‘profiles of success’ form the basis of comparison with the results candidates submit. This is one of the reasons why the test is very hard to manipulate. Not only are the questions very cleverly designed but, unless you are extremely sure what the profile of the ideal candidate might be, it's virtually impossible to cheat your way into generating the ideal profile.
That said, there is plenty of preparation and practice which can be done to ensure that you answer optimally should you be asked to complete a Caliper test. Although pre-planning may not make you into a dream candidate, it will ensure that you are able to complete the test to the very best of your ability.
Detailed below are a few simple tips to ensure you stand the best possible chance of getting the outcome you want when it comes to your Caliper test result.
If you know you are going to be taking the Caliper test, the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the various question types on offer, as well as the format for answering them, can be invaluable.
There are many organizations and online sites out there which can offer assistance with Caliper test preparation, but make sure you choose one which is reputable and will genuinely give you the assistance you need. JobTestPrep is one that we recommend.
Here are our top tips for successful test taking:
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