The Occupational Personality Questionnaire
The Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ32) is a common assessment tool used by employers when hiring graduates. The OPQ consists of 104 blocks of statements and candidates are asked to select the statements in each block that are most and least like them. The assessment is usually delivered online through a link.
What is it used for?
It provides an indication of your preferred behavioural style at work, to help the employer get a feel for how well you will fit in.
It does not say anything about your competence at the job or general ability. It is based on your responses so relies strongly on how you perceive yourself.
It seeks to describe how you relate to others (do you see yourself as a leader/do you enjoy other people’s company/do you consult others in decision making?), your thinking style (how analytical are you/do you see yourself as creative/how structured is your thinking?) and your feelings and emotions (how you feel you handle stress/do you show your emotions openly/do you perceive yourself as driven?).
OPQs are useful but limited tools
The most common graduate mistake is trying to game the questionnaire by giving the answers they think they should give rather than honest ones. Usually this is obvious as the OPQ report contains mixed or contradictory statements. There are no universally ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ answers to the OPQ; there will be certain roles for which certain traits are important and others less relevant. However, just because you are less inclined towards these traits, this does not mean you will be unsuccessful — this may just become a development area for you.
Although the results of OPQs should be treated with some caution, as they are a snapshot, and are taken at a time when your mindset is one of trying to find a job, they can be surprisingly accurate and so can be useful for you as well as an employer. If there is something that has been reflected in the OPQ which an employer asks you about, don’t be afraid to disagree with that perception and demonstrate why you disagree. Using an example where you have demonstrated the trait that is being questioned is a good way to start. Ask for the report from the employer once you have finished the recruitment process; they can be very useful tools in terms of knowing your own development areas.
How do we use it at CGG?
At CGG, we send out a link to complete an OPQ when inviting candidates to our assessment day. For the majority of the interviewers the assessment day will be the first time they meet the candidate so we use the OPQ as a way of giving them a feel for the kind of person they will be meeting so they can adapt their interview style accordingly. We provide a copy of the OPQ32 to the candidates.
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