The SHL OPQ Test in 2024
Updated November 20, 2023
- What Is the SHL OPQ Test?
- What Are the Different SHL OPQ Tests?
- Who Uses the SHL OPQ Test?
- What Does the SHL OPQ Test Assess?
- What to Expect on the SHL OPQ Test
- How Is the SHL OPQ Test Assessed and Reported?
- How to Prepare for the SHL OPQ Test in 2024
- Tips For Taking the SHL OPQ Test in 2024
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) is a highly renowned psychometric test that assesses workplace behavioral traits.
It was created in 1984 and is used worldwide to provide employers with insight into how potential employees might behave in their roles.
It is used for:
- Recruitment – Helps identify the most suitable candidates and increases interview success rates
- Team building and organizational change – Identifies unique skills and leadership qualities
There are three different working versions of the SHL OPQ test.
The normative version asks the participant to respond to statements using a scale of 1 to 5. Participants need to assess how much they agree or disagree with each statement.
There are 416 questions and a time limit of 45–60 minutes.
The answers are compared with the relevant peer group, such as a professional and managerial group, or graduate comparison group.
This version also has 416 questions, but it is formatted differently.
The questions are divided into 104 quads consisting of four statements. Participants need to pick two statements from each quad and decide which statement is most like them and which one is not.
The ipsative element is the forced-choice aspect which makes it harder for the participant to bias the questionnaire. It is for that reason that employers prefer this version of the test.
There is no set time limit for this version, but it does take longer to complete.
The shorter ipsative format is more widely used than the other two OPQ tests.
It uses three statements as opposed to four, and there are only 312 questions, making it quicker to complete.
As the SHL OPQ test measures your style and personality in relation to a job role, there are no restrictions on who uses this questionnaire.
All industries are welcome to administer the test for any job role they are recruiting for.
Some notable companies that use the SHL OPQ test are:
- Air France – Aviation
- LVMH – Luxury brands
- Costa Coffee – Food and beverages
- Emaar Properties – Luxury private and commercial properties
- IQVIA – Biopharmaceutical
- Gannet Company – Holding company and publisher
- Calor Gas – Oil and gas
The SHL OPQ test measures:
- Three domains
- Eight dimensions
- 32 characteristics
This test is not an assessment of your knowledge or ability. It is a personality test that identifies your behavioral traits and how they can be best utilized.
The three domains are:
- Relationships with people
- Thinking style
- Feelings and emotions
- Dimensions – Empathy, influence and sociability
- Characteristics – Modest, democratic, caring, persuasive, controlling, outspoken, independent, outgoing, affiliative and socially confident
- Dimensions – Creativity and change, analysis, and structure
- Characteristics – Conceptional, conventional, variety seeking, innovative, adaptable, behavioral, data rational, evaluative, attention to detail, forward-thinking, rule-following and conscientious
- Dimensions – Dynamism and emotions
- Characteristics – Competitive, achieving, decisive, vigorous, relaxed, worrying, tough-minded, optimistic, emotionally controlled and trusting
The test is fully computer-based and can be completed on any device connected to the internet. It does not have to be completed at an assessment center.
Your employer may send you a link or direct you to a website to complete your questionnaire.
There is no set time limit, but the test can take anything from 45 to 90 minutes to complete, depending on your self-awareness.
Depending on the version you take – OPQ32n, OPQ32i or OPQ32r – the questions will have one of two formats.
For the following statements, decide how much you agree or disagree with them.
|Neither agree or disagree
|I enjoy fixing things
|I rarely make mistakes
|I love meeting new people
|I often feel disappointed
|I feel joy when I help people
For the following group of statements, pick one that you mostly agree with and one that you least agree with.
|A – I have innovative ideas
|B – I am humble about my success
|C – I am always willing to tell people when they have made mistakes
|A – I seek opportunities to meet new people
|B – I love setting long-term goals
|C – I'm mostly relaxed
|A – I get anxious before events
|B – I am highly critical of myself
|C – I always hide my feelings
OPQ32i features four statements as opposed to three.
This is not a test that you pass or fail. The answers you give will be compared to others in a related peer group. This allows potential employers to see how you will fit into their company and your potential for growth.
As such, the results are generated as reports that highlight your strengths and weaknesses compared to the employer's needs.
The types of reports an employer may request include:
- Premium plus
- Standard manager
- Universal competency
- Emotional intelligence
- Team impact selection
If you need to prepare for a number of different employment tests and want to outsmart the competition, choose a Premium Membership from JobTestPrep.
You will get access to three PrepPacks of your choice, from a database that covers all the major test providers and employers and tailored profession packs.
How to Prepare for the SHL OPQ Test in 2024
Personality tests are not something you can revise for, and study guides are not readily available.
However, there are steps you can take to make yourself more comfortable with these types of tests.
The internet is not short on free personality tests. The more you practice, the more self-aware you become, and the comfier you are sitting these tests in a formal environment.
From a personal-development perspective, sitting personality tests and evaluating your answers allows you to see what your strengths and weaknesses are. You then know what skills you need to develop and what areas you should highlight to potential employers.
Knowing the values of the company and what your job role entails allows you to understand what direction the company is heading in. If the job description says you will be responsible for decision-making, you'll need to demonstrate that in your test.
However, be mindful not to target your answers too much. For example, if you lie about an important skill, your employer will not respond well when they discover you cannot do it.
As there is no official preparation material, thinking about yourself in terms of the test parameters will help you answer consistently and honestly.
Ask yourself how you interact with others by considering these questions:
- Do you like to take charge or are you more comfortable following?
- Do you enjoy meeting new people in formal situations or do you prefer to avoid networking altogether?
- Are you confident with your decisions or do you constantly seek others' approval or feedback?
This domain concerns how you read and interpret information. Consider the following:
- Do you prefer working with numbers and statistics or people and emotions?
- Do you prefer conventional, structured working environments or more casual work cultures?
- Do you like to understand motives and behaviors or analyze the reasons behind those actions?
This domain is more concerned with how you feel internally. Think about the following:
- Do you get anxious before events or presentations, or relish the new experience?
- Do you constantly worry something will go wrong or always think of a positive outcome?
- Do you trust easily and find the best in a person or assume they have bad intentions?
- Do you enjoy competing and winning or believe the taking part is what matters?
If you struggle with self-awareness and low self-esteem, ask friends, family and trusted colleagues how they view you.
You might think you are a terrible decision-maker, but your colleagues may see that as one of your strengths.
Ask them for examples so you can start to build your belief system.
The questionnaire has over 400 statements that are very similar. The computer will pick up on any inconsistencies which may disqualify you from the recruitment process.
The majority of personality tests can detect whether you have cheated or distorted the assessment.
For the SHL OPQ test, this is done through either the social desirability scale or the consistency scale, depending on the test format. Both of these allow the assessor to know whether your answers are genuine and can be reliably used.
The social desirability scale is for the OPQ32n version and determines whether someone has answered in a socially desirable way. A high result indicates the participant has purposefully tried to portray themselves as desirable.
However, this is not always a reliable result because some people:
- Have naturally high self-esteem
- Are eager to please others
- Are not self-aware
The consistency scale is used to measure the OPQ32i and OPQ32r formats. As the name suggests, it assesses how consistently you have responded.
A low result indicates that you have not answered consistently, and your answers cannot be used to produce a reliable report. The assumption is that the low result is caused by your attempts to give the answers you think your potential employer wants.
Again, there are flaws with this system. Your answers may be inconsistent because you:
- Did not understand the statements
- Are indecisive
- Lack self-awareness
To avoid any uncertain marks, answer honestly and consistently.
There are no official time limits, just guidelines from past candidates.
If you struggle with this type of testing, take your time and read each question carefully. It will not time out or cut you off.
Find a comfortable, quiet place to take the test. You don't want to be disturbed or distracted and make a mistake.
If you skip any questions or decide you want to answer a question later, the computer will register that as an attempt to distort the test.
This will lead to a negative outcome and possible disqualification.
The more you think about a statement, the more you may try to answer it how you think you should.
If a statement resonates with you, pick it. Don't think about how your potential employer may want you to answer.
Remember, these personality tests are to see if you and the company are a good fit.
If your answers deem you not suitable for a role, then the chances are that the company is also not suited to you and your values.
The SHL OPQ test is a highly popular psychometric test that is part of the SHL test group.
The test examines an individual’s behavioural traits and how they will impact the workplace.
It is a tool used in recruitment practices and for teambuilding exercises. Your personality will determine what type of roles are suitable for you. The SHL OPQ test helps companies understand where your personality will be best placed.
Although there are no right or wrong answers on the SHL OPQ test, you may find it difficult to navigate if you have not sat an examination like this before.
The questions examine an individual’s relationships with other people, their thinking style, and their feelings and emotions.
The best approach to these questions is to be honest about your response to the workplace scenarios.
The number of questions depends on the type of SHL OPQ test you take. The OPQ32n, or the normative OPQ test, consists of 416 questions that are to be answered in 60 minutes.
The OPQ32i, or the ipsative OPQ test, consists of 416 questions and there is no time limit.
The OPQ32r, or the shorter ipsative OPQ test, consists of 312 questions and is widely used because it is quicker to complete. There is no time limit on the OPQ32r test either.
Because it is a personality test administered online, anyone who wishes to take the SHL OPQ test can.
You will most likely be presented with the SHL OPQ test if you are going through a job application for a corporate company.
It is also likely that you will face the SHL OPQ test during a team exercise that attempts to establish the personalities within the workplace.
If you are entering into a workplace that has a distinct corporate culture, the SHL OPQ test helps a company understand how an individual’s personality will fit within this.
The SHL OPQ test examines how someone’s personality measures against the job role being advertised.
If the role requires an independent and motivated person, the SHL OPQ test will ask potential candidates questions that will help identify these personality traits.
The OPQ32i and the OPQ32r do not have a set time for a candidate to complete the questions. Generally, the OPQ32r test can be completed quicker because there are fewer questions.
The OPQ32n test has a limit of 60 minutes for individuals to complete the test.
Although the questions cannot be answered incorrectly, you may provide answers that highlight to a company that you have a personality that does not fit with the job role being advertised.
For example, if you answer questions that highlight you do not like working in a team environment and that you are difficult to persuade, then you may be rejected from a collaborative role.
The pass mark differs from company to company. Passing the SHL OPQ test also depends upon the type of workplace culture in each company. For corporations that are using the test to simply analyse the personalities of their existing staff, there is no need to fear the idea of failing the test.
In contrast, if you are applying for a specific job position then you may fail if the test answers indicate you have personality traits that do not match up with the role. Companies like Airfrance, Costa Coffee, Calor Gas all use the SHL OPQ test.
Although the test was initially developed in 1984 to be completed in person, it is mostly administered online. The reason for this is because it is easier for companies to collect the results quicker and identify your personality traits.
The results given from the SHL OPQ tests are representations of an individual’s preferences and behaviours between 12 to 18 months. This means the test takes into consideration changes in personality traits over time.
An individual may sit two tests years apart and indicate different personality traits in each of the tests. It is a good idea to take personality tests like the SHL OPQ annually to ascertain what job roles are a good fit for you.
When they are included as part of the recruitment process, personality tests can be stressful. However, with practice and self-awareness, answering these types of questions will become easier.
The outcome of these tests is to see if you are a good fit, but they also provide a lot of information about your strengths and areas to improve.
Always remember to be yourself and answer truthfully. If you are not a match for the company, then neither are they a match for you.