The Thomas International PPA Test

Last Updated: 06 March 2020

The Thomas International Personality Profile Analysis (commonly known as the PPA test) is a standardised test that allows hiring managers to uncover more about a candidate’s personality to determine if they are the right person for the job.

The algorithm of the PPA assessment will allow an employer to understand more about how you work, how you react under pressure and your motivations.

In the UK, the PPA test is becoming more mainstream, with large employers and education institutions such as Virgin Trains, Leeds Beckett University and Thames Valley Police choosing to use it.


  1. What Is the Thomas International PPA Test?
  2. The Thomas Personality Test: What Is Being Assessed?
  3. What to Expect From Your PPA Test
  4. The Four Key Areas of the PPA Assessment
  5. How Is the Test Scored?
  6. How to Make the Most of Your PPA Test Practice
  7. Final Thoughts
  8. Further Reading

What Is the Thomas International PPA Test?

The Thomas International PPA assessment has been around for over 35 years. The test uses psychological analytics to examine a candidate’s personality profile.

The resulting data report can be used by employers to make decisions throughout a candidate’s career; from the very start of the recruitment process through to promotions and career trajectory decisions.

The comprehensive nature of the PPA assessment means that it is used beyond just recruitment. Schools are increasingly using the test during their application periods, while sporting teams are also using the analytics to see if they can spot potential.

The Thomas Personality Test: What Is Being Assessed?

The PPA assessment is popular because of its simplicity and ease of use. Candidates will be asked to sit an eight-minute test, comprising of 24 questions across four core areas of your personality:

  • Dominance
  • Influence
  • Steadiness
  • Compliance

The PPA test (which is available in 56 different languages) asks candidates to select two adjectives from a choice of four – one that most describes their attitude or approach at work and one that describes those things least.

The result is that the candidate has selected 48 words out of a maximum of 96, giving analysts enough data to create an informed report about the candidate’s core personality.

Your answers will show an employer how you might act within its workplace; it demonstrates how you want to be seen by your employer.

According to Thomas themselves:

The PPA determines whether individuals see themselves as responding to workplace situations that they perceive to be favourable or challenging, and reveals whether their response patterns are active or passive; thus classifying the individual’s behavioural preferences in terms of four domains: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance.

The test is independently verified by the British Psychological Society and the European Federation of Psychologists Association to determine its reliability and validity.

What to Expect From Your PPA Test

If you’ve been asked to take a PPA assessment as part of a recruitment process or, perhaps, as part of continual evaluation of your skills, then you may be wondering what to expect.

As previously mentioned, you will be asked to choose two adjectives, one which describes your approach at work most and one least. Each answer is attributed with a points value.

Although there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to personality testing, it should be noted that some questions will have clear preferences.

For example, if you’re applying for a customer-facing position or one which involves working alongside a team, you would want to choose adjectives which indicate a favourable attitude to working with others.


If you're looking for a study pack that will teach you how to prepare for the PPA test, we recommend this guide from JobTestPrep.

The Four Key Areas of the PPA Assessment

If you have been asked to complete a Thomas personality test, then you should make sure you’re aware of the four key personality factors.

Below are some examples of how we can describe each of the four core elements within the PPA personality test.

  • Dominance. Are you forceful? Do you like to take charge? Perhaps you’re courageous and not afraid to take a risk. Maybe you’ve shown that you’re ambitious or competitive, or perhaps you’ve had moments where a colleague could describe you as aggressive.

    In some scenarios, these dominant elements of your personality could cause alarm, but equally, an employer may view them as indicating managerial potential or potential for promotions.

  • Influence. How do you influence other members of the team? Would you be described as sociable and outgoing? Are you inspiring and do you help motivate others to improve their skills? Perhaps you’re seen as friendly or as a mentor to those working alongside you.

    Personality tests allow employers to see how a candidate would fit in with the rest of the team. If the recruiter is looking for a candidate to fill a pastoral element within the workforce, then this section could score you highly.

  • Steadiness. When it comes to busy workforces, an employer will need to know how you react under pressure. Can you remain calm and level-headed? Are you able to multi-task and prioritise changing scenarios? Can you remain in control and do you have the ability to lead others in a cool and relaxed manner?

    The official Thomas website declares that organisations such as Thames Valley Police have used Thomas PPA assessments. You can see how it would be important for a candidate working within the policing profession to have clear traits of steadiness.

  • Compliance. The final element is to determine how much you listen to what is being said. Are you someone who follows rules and listens to instructions? Are you respectful and orderly to other members of the team regardless of their seniority? Can you pay attention to policies and procedures – and understand why they have been implemented?

    If you’re applying for a position in a large organisation, the potential employer will want to know how you cope with internal systems and processes. Every company operates in its own way and will want to know how you can adapt to its way of working.

How Is the Test Scored?

Each test will be scored in accordance with the job description of the role that is being recruited for. This means that an employer can feel confident that it will find the ideal candidate for its needs.

The scoring is based on your behaviour, your personality and your aptitude – the result is a star rating which can be used by employers to make decisions on recruitment, leadership, sales and training, and help them to understand an individual’s strengths and limitations.

The PPA assessment provides the employer with a wide range of profile reports and these can be used and referred back to throughout that candidate’s career. Thomas describes its personal profile analysis tool as being the ideal resource to help employers ‘recruit, develop, promote, motivate, manage and retain’ employees.

The use of big data and data analytics is more important than ever before, and HR teams and hiring managers are continually using this data to allow them to make predictions for the future.

Therefore, detailed insights provided through resources such as the Thomas PPA assessment are vital for making informed decisions.

How to Make the Most of Your PPA Test Practice

In most scenarios, you will likely be informed by an HR team if you are required to participate in a PPA assessment during a formal interview. Before taking a personality test, make sure you do some preliminary research so that you feel confident in what to expect:

  • Research personality tests. This article will have given you a good overview of the PPA test. Another good place to look is the WikiJob forum. You may find that many members have participated in Thomas personality tests and are willing to share their advice and guidance on how to achieve a strong score. Also, read up on personality profiling to understand more about personality tests and how they work.

  • Make sure you pay attention to the job description of your new role. You should always re-read the job description when preparing for your recruitment tests, but make sure you read beyond the specific tasks and consider what attributes the employer is looking for. Maybe they are looking for leadership potential or perhaps someone more junior to simply carry out admin tasks? This will help you feel more confident in choosing the right adjectives throughout the PPA assessment.

  • Make sure you’re true to yourself. It may be easy to simply pick the words that you know the company wants to hear, but if you are successful in the interview stage, you need to feel confident that you could handle the position in the long-run. For example, if the employer is looking for a particularly dominant character to take charge but your natural response is to hide away and follow the crowd, you may be able to fool the test but you wouldn’t be happy in that specific job. A core part of the PPA assessment is to allow employers to understand how you want to be viewed; therefore you need to show your real strengths and capabilities.


Ready to practice for your PPA test? Then try out this guide from JobTestPrep.

Final Thoughts

The Thomas International PPA test is an insightful personality test that is used as part of the recruitment process and throughout a candidate's career.

The test uses verified analytics to help businesses choose a specific person with the knowledge that they are likely to succeed. Considering the cost implications for businesses when it comes to recruitment and employee retention, it’s important to use as much data as possible to feel confident in the decision making processes.

For candidates themselves, participating in a personality test may tell them a lot more about themselves than they realised. They may find that, through their choice of adjectives, they start to understand their motivators and develop alternative ambitions.

The PPA personality test could be an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and discover your strengths and weaknesses in a new way.

Further Reading

You might be interested in these other WikiJob articles:

Personality Tests

The SHL OPQ Assessment

Myers Briggs Tests

DISC Personality Test

The Birkman Method Personality Test

The NEO Personality Inventory Test

Thomas International GIA Test

Hogan Assessment Tests