Predictive Index (PI) Behavioral Assessment Test – A Definitive Study Guide with Practice Questions
Last Updated on October 6, 2022
Companies want to hire the best candidate for the job. While they may receive many resumes from successful and well-educated applicants, only a personality test can help them determine which candidates will thrive in the particular position. That’s where the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment Test comes in.
Employers can use the results of this test to determine which of their applicants has the right personality to succeed in the job they’re trying to fill. This test has been administered by thousands of companies for over 60 years to select candidates and determine which individuals are the best fit for a particular job role.
While there is not a lot a person can do to change his or her personality, it’s useful to get acquainted with the PI test ahead of time. You’ll want to learn the nature of the test, how your answers will be categorized, and what these categories will mean. You’ll also want to complete practice exams so that you can take the PI Behavioral Assessment with confidence and success.
PI Behavioral Assessment at a Glance
Broadly speaking, the PI Behavioral Assessment is an exam that asks candidates to select adjectives from a list of 86 total descriptive words. You will have two opportunities to make selections.
In the first case, you should choose adjectives that describe the type of person you believe will be successful in the position you are applying for. That is, you should select between 20 and 50 adjectives that denote the types of characteristics you would be expected to exemplify if you were in the role you’re applying for.
In the second case, you are expected to select the adjectives that describe your own personality. In this case, you should choose less than 50 and more than 20 total adjectives. If you select too few adjectives, or too many, the test results will not favor your application. You’ll need to provide enough answers that the test can be scored, but not too many that your answers cover every personality type and don’t narrow down your own specific qualities.
Here is an example of adjectives you may see on the test:
Four Personality Characteristics on the PI Assessment
The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment categorizes each adjective on the list of 86 options. Each of these adjectives falls within one of four broadly construed personality characteristics. These are:
Think back to the job you are applying for. Reread the job description and try to determine which of the four characteristics would be the best fit for the position in question. If you’re seeking a sales position, you can see why dominance and extroversion would be useful characteristics. If you’re looking for a data entry position, it makes sense that patience is the most important characteristic to embody. If you’re seeking a compliance officer position, it’s clear that formality is most certainly a requirement.
As you can now see, success on the PI test hinges on demonstrating the ways that your particular personality best matches the particular job you’re applying for.
Let’s talk about each characteristic one by one so that you can best understand what they really mean.
Dominance can be a positive quality for jobs such as sales or management. Confident idea sharers who want to contribute at work and aren’t afraid of risk taking can exhibit this quality.
Adjective examples: Independent, Assertive
Extroverted people look for social opportunities in the workplace. They enjoy engaging with others and have good people skills. Clerks or customer service specialists may exhibit this quality.
Adjective examples: Influential, Kind
Detail-oriented people with strong attention to detail exhibit patience. They enjoy consistency in their daily work and thrive in regular, sometimes monotonous environments. Programmers and data analysts exhibit patience, as do data entry workers.
Adjectives: Deliberate, Detail Oriented
Rule-oriented people who appreciate structure and strict adherence to guidelines fall under this characteristic. Office managers exhibit this characteristic.
Adjectives: Organized, Vigilant
How to Take the PI Test?
The PI test is administered in several ways. You can take the test using pen and paper, in person on a computer, or virtually via the internet. The test is not timed, so it’s important to really think about your answers before submitting your test.
Keep in mind what you’re really doing as you select adjectives. Each adjective fits within one of the four characteristics mentioned above. Choose adjectives that lean towards the qualities you want to demonstrate for the particular job you seek.
If you are looking to be hired for a sales position, you don’t want to choose a lot of adjectives that indicate you are a patient, formal person. While you can select a few adjectives in each category, you want the majority of your adjectives to indicate that you are extroverted and dominant. That’s because these are the characteristics that predict success in the sales environment.
Similarly, if you’re applying for a data entry position, you may want to focus on adjectives showing you exhibit Formality and Patience rather than those that show Dominance. That’s because you need to demonstrate your aptitude for detail-oriented tasks where you can follow the rules.
Preparing for the PI Behavioral Test
Choosing adjectives based on their characteristics can be complicated. That’s why practice is an essential aspect of a successful PI Test. Remember that you won’t receive a failing grade. Rather, your scores will be compared to the other applicants and you’ll be assessed based on the extent to which your scores fit within the desired characteristics of the job in question.
Essentially, you will need to do a lot of practicing to prepare for this test. You’ll want a lot of experience choosing adjectives based on whether they match the characteristics you want to embody. Luckily, there are practice questions available at Job Test Prep (access here).
Here is an example set of characteristics. Let’s take a look and see what the best answer would be given a particular job:
Here is a set of adjectives. Let’s consider these adjectives for a sales position. Which adjectives exhibit Dominance?
- X Assertive
- X Demanding
- X Dominant
We can see that Assertive, Demanding, and Dominant are the three adjectives that show a Dominant characteristic.
Two Lists on the PI Behavioral Assessment
The PI Behavioral Assessment will provide two lists of adjectives. Each list consists of 86 adjectives. In the first list, you’re selecting adjectives based on how you feel you are supposed to behave within the workplace. This list is not based on your actual personality but on your perception of other people’s expectations of you at work.
The second list is full of the same adjectives. However you should choose those adjectives which describe you personally. What adjectives are appropriate descriptors of your own personality? Choose these.
While it’s important to be truthful in your answers, you should always consider which of the four characteristics an adjective fits under. Then tailor your answers to the types of qualities you believe are expected of you in the job you are seeking, and the types of characteristics you believe you exhibit that fit this characteristic.
This can be a confusing process. That’s why it is so important to put in the work to practice taking the test, categorizing the adjectives, and determining which qualities the job you’re seeking expects you to exhibit. If you have three months to prepare for the test, that is ideal, but even a month or a week of practice will improve your score dramatically. That’s why Job Test Prep offers several time frames and packages based on your studying needs.
Tips for Success on the PI Behavioral Assessment
Before starting the PI Behavioral Assessment, think about your own personality. Some of us don’t reflect on the qualities that make us who we are. You’ll also want to research the company’s values as well as the particular job description for the position you’re seeking. Be deliberate about your qualities as well as the qualities needed for the position.
The M Factor
When selecting adjectives, it’s important not to select too many adjectives or too few. The number of adjectives you choose is known as the “M Factor”. A low “M Factor” will show your workplace that you are generally less engaged than other candidates. This can weigh against your candidacy, particularly if you choose less than six adjectives.
Additionally, choosing too many adjectives shows that you are indecisive and that you may not be completely forthright in your answers. Thus, make sure you choose less than 50 or 60 adjectives for each list. Never choose 80 or more adjectives, or your scores may not be eligible.
There can be some differences between the adjectives chosen for the two lists. However, they should not be so different that your potential employer takes notice and may wonder why you don’t tend to exhibit the qualities you believe are required of you.
Consider your own vocabulary limits. Don’t select any adjectives if you aren’t sure of their meaning. If you know the definition of an adjective and it exhibits qualities that fit within the characteristic you want to exhibit, then select that adjective. That being said, you don’t need to only exhibit the qualities related to that characteristic, so long as most of the qualities you choose fit under that characteristic.
Some adjectives may be seen to be contradictory. If you choose a lot of adjectives that contradict one another, this may work against your candidacy. For example, if you select Passive and Dominant, this can skew your final results.
Be Honest and Take Your Time
Don’t apply for a job that requires you to lie on the PI Behavioral assessment. Preparation should help you select the best answers given your personality to help you succeed. But practice shouldn’t lead to selecting false answers that don’t match your personality at all.
The PI Behavioral Assessment is not a timed exam. You will not be required to finish in a set timeframe. Thus, you should consider each adjective thoroughly before choosing. You do not need to rush through your answers. The test doesn’t need to take all that long, but don’t feel a sense of hurry or you may miss out on key word definitions or accidentally select contradictory adjectives.
Which Companies Use the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment?
The PI Behavioral Assessment is used by a number of companies. That’s because this test has been shown to be highly accurate and has been administered over 20 million times! That is enough instances to get a wide range of data, which does show the test can successfully route appropriate candidates to positions that fit them best.
While thousands of companies use this assessment, these specific companies are among that list:
The PI Behavioral Assessment can also be used to determine whether an internal candidate should be promoted to another role. Essentially, the PI Behavioral Assessment is about job fit, and thus it has a range of uses and can be deployed whenever there are questions about who should fill a position.
Your PI Behavioral Assessment Score
Once you’ve taken the PI Behavioral Assessment, your answers will be scored and compared with the other applicants who have applied for the position you seek. Remember that there is no way to fail the test. However, if your personality profile is not a fit for the job you applied for, your chances of being hired do drop.
Remember the four characteristics:
Your answers will be scored by points. That is, for each adjective you select, that adjective will award one point towards the characteristic it fits under.
So, if you select “Assertiveness”, you will get one point in the “Dominance” characteristic.
Once all of your selections are added up for each list, you will be given three profiles—one profile for each of the two lists you answered, and a third profile that combines the two. This third profile is the guide that shows how well you would actually fit within the job you’re seeking, under the characteristic that most fits the role.
Most people have qualities that fit within each of the characteristics to some degree. But typically, you’ll see one or two characteristics with more adjectives selected than any other. This ranking helps the test scorers to create a profile typecast for you.
If you’re applying for a position and your strongest quality is Patience followed by Formality, you would be better suited for a role that does not put you in charge of others. You would be more likely to succeed as a data entry specialist. However, if your highest quality is Dominance followed by Extroversion, you would be more likely to flourish as a manager.
Your profile typecast is a representation of all of your answers in a form that helps employers see your overall score. Visit Job Test Prep to see examples of these profiles.
How can Practice Help Me Succeed at the PI Behavioral Assessment?
The key to success with the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment is to practice your answers. You will want to be able to identify each adjective on the list. This means expanding your vocabulary. If there are adjectives you find on the practice exams that you have not seen before or whose meaning you don’t know, you will want to look these words up to be certain what they mean. Additionally, you will want to categorize these answers based on the characteristics they portray.
Job Test Prep provides practice tests that allow candidates to get familiar with the types of adjectives you will see and which characteristics they exemplify. Some answers can be tricky to classify. That’s why spending a week, a month, or even three months practicing for this test can help you get the job you are hoping to snag.
After all, you are beginning your career, and it can take some effort to get in the door with your chosen employer. Keeping your eye on the ball and practicing is the key to making your employment dreams a reality.
Test takers will only receive one chance to take the PI Behavioral Assessment. Once the test is over, you’ve already rolled the dice. That’s why it’s so important to practice before you head into the test-taking environment.
Finally, take the time to analyze the job description for the position you are considering. Which job characteristic do you believe is needed to succeed in this work environment? Choose your answers accordingly.
Practice will bring confidence on test day. You’ll sit down to take the test without being afraid that your answers will send signals you don’t intend to share. That’s why practicing is an essential component of success.
Test Day Reminders
Don’t be intimidated by the PI Behavioral Assessment. If you’ve put in practice, you should be ready to roll. Test takers who have practiced tend to do better than those who do not, so your chances are already better than your competitors who have not studied for the exam.
Drink plenty of water and get a good night’s sleep the day before the exam. You’ll want to be able to focus completely on the test while you take it, even if it only takes up less than an hour of your day. Eat a healthy breakfast and arrive at the test-taking center with plenty of time to find the location and grab a seat.
As you walk into the test center, visualize yourself walking with confidence and achieving the job you are setting out to get. Think about what this job can mean for you and your future. Then take the test knowing you’ve practiced all you can and you will succeed based on how hard you have worked to get where you are. You’ll be joining the more than 2.5 million test takers who participate in this exam every year.
Best of luck to you; you’ll do great!
Written by Elizabeth O Mahony
With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.