How to Deal with Psychological Questions in a Job Interview

The interest of recruiters in psychology started a long time ago. In the western world, the heyday of psychological tests as the basis for the decision to hire took place in the 1980s. At that time this tendency really confused applicants, who had no experience in answering tricky and job-unrelated questions. How should one respond to such tests? It turns out that it’s no longer enough to be a qualified specialist in your field. You also need to have a “certain” type of personality and have a “required” set of soft skills. Fortunately, the majority of employers don’t spend their resources on large-scale testings when looking for new staff. However, short psychological questions are still a part of almost every job interview.

How to recognize psychological questions in an interview and answer them correctly?

If you are lucky, the recruiter will provide you with a prepared psychological test and give you some time to fill it in. In this way you will have a moment to think it through and come up with the most appropriate answers. The real problem appears if the psychological question comes up spontaneously. It gives the headhunter a great opportunity to discover the real personality of a candidate. However, if you are in the role of an applicant, it might easily confound you.

So, how can you tell that a question is psychologically charged?

First of all, there are questions concerning your self-esteem.


“How often were you rejected after an interview? Why were you rejected?”

“Are you a lucky person?”

In order to answer this kind of question try to stay somewhere “in the middle”. In this way, the most optimal respond on the first question would be “I had to deal with various kind of responses. Sometimes I had to drop the offer myself, because the conditions did not fully meet my expectations. I believe that both parties are always trying to find a good match”. The second answer could be “I find myself quite fortunate. I had a chance to get great education and work experience. I also have an amazing family and friends. I think life is full of opportunities, you just need to spot and use them. Then luck will always be on your side!”.

Second of all, there are questions about your character trait. You can easily prepare yourself for this type of testing by studying the basic psychological questionnaires for the definition of personality.


“Please take a look at the picture below. Each of these little men has a different mood and different position on the tree. First, determine which one is most similar to you. After that, select three characters that you find the most admirable.”

Psychological Questions
Source of the picture:

Result of the test: The first question is aimed to figure out your personality type, as well as the character traits that define you the most. The second question shows the qualities/state of mind that you don’t have, but would really like to gain.

If you chose position number 1, 3, 6 or 7, this characterizes you as a single-minded person who is not afraid of any obstacles.

If you happened to choose one of the following numbers: 2, 11, 12, 18 or 19, then you are a very sociable and helpful person who will always support his friends or colleagues.

The choice of the little man under number 4 defines you as a person with a strong life position, who wants to achieve all possible successes without overcoming difficulties.

Number 5 – you are often tired. You feel weak and you have a small supply of vitality.

The choice fell on the person under number 9 – you are a cheerful person who loves entertainment.

Number 13 or 21 – you are closed and often experience the internal anxiety. You prefer to avoid frequent communication with other people.

Number 8 – you like to dive deep into yourself. You like to think about something rather complicated and immerse yourself in your own world.

If you chose numbers 10 or 15 – you have an objective and realistic view on life, you are in a comfortable state.

Number 14 – you probably fall into the emotional hole. It is often a sign of the internal crisis or depression.
Position number 20 is usually chosen by people with very high self-esteem. You are a born leader and you want everyone to listen to you.

Your choice fell on a little man under number 16? Most likely you feel tired of having to support someone, but you may have seen in this picture that number 17 embraces you. In this case you tend to regard yourself as a person surrounded by too much of attention.

Number 17 – you are very active, sociable and prone to unexpected/spontaneous acts.

The author of this test is the famous British psychologist Pip Wilson. It was originally created for schoolchildren to test how comfortable they feel in school. However, later it turned out that it is also relevant for adults. This simple test helps a person to determine his present and desired emotional state and even to some extent realize his position in the society.

Third, you might be given a classical psychological task: draw a house, yourself, your family and so on. You can be asked about your favorite color, or what do you see on the abstract picture. This type of tasks are often considered to be the most difficult for the unprepared applicants. So let’s have a closer look on some of them.

Examples of questions and answers in a psychological interview

Question: Draw a house, yourself and a tree

Answer: Try to draw proportionally and as realistically as you can. The house should have all basic elements: windows, door, roof, path leading to the house. These subjects are associated with your openness and readiness for cooperation. If your desired position requires a lot of attention to details, then your picture should also contain a lot of tiny elements: door bell, small paintings on the shutters, some accessories on your own figure. The tree should be beautiful, straight and have a huge green crown – this illustrates your vision of a team.

Question: What do you see on this (abstract) picture?

Answer: It doesn’t mater what do you see in front of you. Even if it is just a spot or a combination of weird shapes, associate it with something positive. Optimism is very often the key to getting the job!

And now probably the most tricky psychological question: On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate an interviewer’s performance today?

Answer: This kind of question is usually asked to test you for flattery and sycophancy. For the employer these are often very important qualities of an applicant.. You should answer honestly and objectively, and don’t forget to use arguments to support your opinion.


You got to know how to deal with the basic psychological questions during an interview. Without doubt, there is no one standard script that HR departments all over the world would follow. Nowadays companies tend to be very creative and they come up with the completely new ways to challenge the applicant. However, there is only one key to a successful interview – confidence, honesty and a positive attitude!

Author: Anastasija Averina is a Communications Specialist at askalo Jobs, a global search engine that brings together millions of jobs offers from thousands of job boards, classifieds and company websites

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