SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire OPQ

Embarking on a journey toward career success often involves navigating through complex pathways and making critical decisions. One tool that has proven invaluable in this process is the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ). This powerful instrument provides insights into your personality traits, helping you understand how they align with different occupational paths and work environments.

The SHL OPQ is not just another personality test. SHL OPQ it’s a key to unlocking your potential and paving the way for career success. Identifying your strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and values, provides a comprehensive view of your professional persona. This information can be instrumental in guiding you towards roles where you are likely to excel and find satisfaction.

In this article, we will delve deep into the world of the SHL OPQ. We explore its purpose, benefits, structure, interpretation of results, and much more. Whether you’re a job seeker looking for direction or an employer seeking to better understand your team, this guide will equip you with all the knowledge needed to leverage this tool effectively.

So let’s embark on this enlightening journey together – because understanding yourself is the first step towards achieving professional success!

What is the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire?

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire, often abbreviated as OPQ, is a comprehensive assessment tool designed to provide insights into an individual’s behavioral style in a work context. Moreover, developed by Saville and Holdsworth Ltd (SHL), one of the leading global providers of psychometric assessments, this questionnaire has been widely recognized for its effectiveness in predicting job performance.

The purpose and objectives behind Its creation the OPQ was to offer a reliable method for understanding individuals’ behavioral tendencies at work. By identifying these patterns accurately, it becomes possible for organizations to predict how well someone might perform in different job roles or environments. Moreover, the OPQ is also designed to help individuals gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This self-awareness can be invaluable in career planning and personal development, enabling people to make informed decisions about their professional paths.

Detailed Explanation of the Questionnaire

The OPQ is based on a robust framework that measures 32 specific personality characteristics relevant to occupational settings. That’s why it is also known as OPQ32. These traits are grouped into three main categories: Relationships with People, Thinking Style, and Feelings and Emotions.

  • Relationships with People: This category assesses how an individual interacts with others in a professional environment. It includes traits such as leadership potential, teamwork ability, and persuasiveness.
  • Thinking Style: This section evaluates cognitive aspects like strategic thinking, decision-making skills, creativity, and innovation.
  • Feelings and Emotions: This part focuses on emotional intelligence factors such as resilience under pressure, response to change or uncertainty, etc.

Depending on the version of the OPQ, there exist two types of tests. The first type consists of multiple-choice questions where respondents are asked to rate how strongly they agree or disagree with various statements about their behavior at work. The second type offers a choice between equally desirable options. The responses are then analyzed using advanced statistical methods to generate an accurate profile.

Which employers use the SHL OPQ test?

Numerous organizations use SHL OPQ tests alongside other assessments during recruitment. These employers include a wide range of prestigious companies across various industries, such as:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Heineken
  • Costa Coffee
  • LVMH
  • HSBC
  • PwC
  • Lloyds Bank
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • The Adecco Group

These firms leverage SHL OPQ (Occupational Personality Questionnaire) tests to gain insights into candidates’ workplace behaviors and personality traits, aiding in identifying individuals whose skills and characteristics align with the company’s values and role requirements.

Why is the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire Important?

The significance of the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire cannot be overstated. It serves as a powerful tool in career development, offering insights that are crucial for both individuals and organizations. Let’s delve into why this questionnaire holds such importance.

Identifying Personal Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the primary benefits of taking the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire is its ability to identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, the questionnaire evaluates various aspects of your personality, including your motivations, preferences, potential, and work style.

By understanding these elements better, you can gain a clearer picture of what you excel at and where you need improvement. Consequently, this self-awareness can be instrumental in shaping your career path – it helps you align your job choices with your inherent abilities and preferences.

Role in Career Planning and Progression

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire plays a pivotal role in career planning as well as progression. By providing an accurate assessment of one’s personality traits related to occupational settings, it aids individuals in making informed decisions about their careers.

For instance, if the questionnaire reveals that you have strong leadership qualities but are currently working in a non-leadership role, it might prompt you to consider seeking opportunities where these skills can be put to use effectively.

In addition to aiding individuals’ career decisions, employers also find value in this tool for workforce planning purposes – they can use it to identify employees with high potential or those who would fit well into specific roles or projects.

In essence, the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire acts as a roadmap guiding both individuals and organizations toward success by ensuring alignment between personal traits and job requirements.

How to Prepare for an SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire?

Preparing for the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire is not about cramming facts or figures, but rather understanding yourself better and being able to articulate your personality traits accurately. Here are some tips and strategies that can help you approach this questionnaire effectively:

Tips and Strategies for Taking the Questionnaire Effectively

  1. Be Honest: The primary purpose of this questionnaire is to understand your personality traits better. Therefore, you must answer all questions honestly without trying to manipulate the results.
  2. Understand the Questions: Each question in the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire is designed to assess specific aspects of your personality. Make sure you understand what each question asks before answering.
  3. No Right or Wrong Answers: Remember, there are no right or wrong answers in a personality test. Your responses should reflect who you truly are, not who you think employers want.
  4. Avoid Overthinking: Try not to overthink your answers; usually, your initial response is the most accurate reflection of your personality.

Resources for Preparation

The best resource for preparing for an SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire is self-reflection and introspection. However, familiarizing yourself with how these types of assessments work can also be beneficial.

  • SHL’s official website: Provides detailed information about their occupational personality questionnaire along with sample questions.
  • Practice Aptitude Tests: Offers free practice tests and resources to help you understand the structure of SHL assessments.
  • JobTestPrep: Provides a comprehensive guide on how to prepare for SHL personality tests, including tips and strategies.

Remember, the goal is not to ‘pass’ the questionnaire but to gain a deeper understanding of your occupational personality. This insight can be instrumental in guiding your career decisions and helping you achieve success in your professional life.

Types of SHl Occupational Personality Questionnaire

The OPQ comes in three distinct versions, each designed for different application contexts. This flexibility allows for a more targeted approach when evaluating potential job candidates or for development purposes within organizations.

OPQ32n (Normative)

The OPQ32n uses a Likert scale for responses, asking participants to rate how strongly they agree or disagree with each statement. This format allows for nuanced responses and provides a detailed profile by comparing an individual’s results against a norm group.

Typically, the normative version comprises 416 questions.

Completion time usually takes around 45-60 minutes to complete.

The OPQ32n is particularly useful for roles where understanding the nuances of an individual’s personality is crucial. It’s often used in management positions, roles requiring high levels of interaction or teamwork, and positions where personality fit is critical for success.

Sample questions of OPQ32n:

Strongly Disagree Disagree Unsure Agree Strongly Agree
I quickly adapt to new situations and changes in my work environment.
Working in a team energizes me more than working alone.
I am always looking for innovative solutions to problems.
I pay close attention to details, even under tight deadlines.
I naturally take charge in group situations to guide the team towards our goals.
I remain focused and productive even when under significant stress.
Strongly Disagree Disagree Unsure Agree Strongly Agree
I enjoy meeting new people.
I like helping people.
I sometimes make mistakes.
I'm easily disappointed.
I enjoy repairing things.

OPQ32i (Ipsative)

The ipsative version forces a choice between equally desirable options, making it difficult for individuals to skew their responses to appear in a certain way. This format provides a comparative measure of an individual’s traits by forcing them to choose between competing characteristics.

This version contains 416 questions divided into 104 blocks with four statements each. 

The completion time is similar to the OPQ32n, around 45 minutes.

The OPQ32i is suitable for high-stakes environments where it’s essential to minimize social desirability bias. It’s often used in selection processes for critical roles, ensuring that candidates cannot easily manipulate their responses.

Sample questions of OPQ32i:

1. Please choose one MOST true and one LEAST true statement:

I am always looking for ways to improve processes at work.

I prefer to work in a team rather than working alone.

I make decisions based on facts and data rather than intuition.

I value having a predictable routine over spontaneous changes.

2. Please choose one MOST true and one LEAST true statement:

I seek out leadership roles in group settings.

I enjoy solving problems that require creative thinking.

I am meticulous and pay close attention to details in my work.

I thrive in environments where I can interact with a diverse group of people.

3. Please choose one MOST true and one LEAST true statement:

I prioritize tasks to meet deadlines efficiently.

I am open to experimenting with new and innovative ideas.

I feel most fulfilled when helping others succeed.

I analyze the potential outcomes before making a decision.

OPQ32r (Shorter Ipsative Format)

As a shorter version of the OPQ32i, the OPQ32r maintains the ipsative format but with fewer items, making it quicker to complete. This version still minimizes the potential for social desirability bias but in a more time-efficient manner.

The OPQ32r contains 312 questions, though the exact number may vary.

It’s designed to be completed in less than the 25-40 minutes required for the full versions, making it more convenient for large-scale screenings or when time is a constraint.

Sample of multiple-choice questions OPQ32r: 

Example of question OPQ32r


1. Please choose one MOST true and one LEAST true statement:

I find it easy to express my ideas in a group.

I prefer to follow established guidelines rather than creating my own methods.

I seek out feedback to improve my performance.

2. Please choose one MOST true and one LEAST true statement:

I enjoy analyzing data to find trends and insights.

I prioritize completing tasks well ahead of deadlines.

I am motivated by opportunities to meet and work with new people.

3. Please choose one MOST true and one LEAST true statement:

I adapt quickly to changes in plans and strategies.

I focus on the details to ensure work is done accurately.

I am driven by the opportunity to lead and inspire others.

Applications: The OPQ32r is ideal for initial screening processes where time and efficiency are critical. It’s also useful when you need to assess a large number of candidates or when a concise overview of personality traits is sufficient.

Each version of the OPQ32 is tailored to different assessment needs, balancing the depth of insight with the practical considerations of time and application context. The choice between them depends on the specific requirements of the assessment scenario, including the level of detail needed, the importance of minimizing response bias, and the time available for completing the assessment.

How to Interpret Results of OPQ32?

Once completed, the OPQ generates a detailed report that provides insights into your work-related behaviors across all 32 scales. This report doesn’t label any trait as good or bad. Instead, it highlights areas where you may excel and areas for development based on your responses.

For example, if you score high on the ‘Innovative’ scale under ‘Thinking Style’, it suggests that you enjoy generating new ideas and thinking outside the box. Conversely, if you score low on this scale, it might indicate that you prefer working within established guidelines rather than experimenting with new approaches.

To interpret your results effectively, it’s crucial to understand that the OPQ is a tool for self-awareness and development. It’s not about passing or failing but about gaining insights into your work personality. The goal is to use these insights to make informed decisions about your career path and personal growth.

Remember, the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire is a key that can unlock doors to self-understanding and career success. Consequently, by understanding how it works, you’re one step closer to leveraging its power for your benefit.

Who Can Benefit from Taking an SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire?

One of the most compelling aspects of the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire is its universal applicability. It’s not just for job seekers or those in career transition; it can provide valuable insights to various individuals and organizations. Let’s delve into who can benefit from this powerful tool.

Job Seekers

For job seekers, understanding your personality traits is crucial in identifying roles that align with your natural inclinations and strengths. The SHL questionnaire provides a detailed analysis of your work-related behaviors. It helps you understand what kind of jobs you are likely to excel at.

Moreover, it gives you an edge during interviews by allowing you to articulate your strengths confidently and demonstrate self-awareness about areas for improvement. This level of introspection can impress potential employers and increase your chances of landing the job.


If you’re already employed but feeling unfulfilled or stuck in your current role, the SHL questionnaire can be a game-changer. It helps identify gaps between your personality traits and job requirements, providing clarity on why certain tasks may feel draining or why conflicts may arise with colleagues.

The insights gained from this assessment can guide personal development efforts, helping employees enhance their performance, improve relationships at work, and ultimately achieve greater satisfaction in their careers.


Employers also stand to gain significantly from using the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire as part of their recruitment process or employee development programs.

In recruitment scenarios, it aids in selecting candidates whose personality traits align with job requirements – leading to better performance and reduced turnover rates. Similarly, for existing employees, it serves as a valuable tool for identifying training needs, managing talent effectively, and fostering a harmonious work environment.

The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire is a versatile tool that can benefit a wide range of individuals and organizations. Whether you’re seeking to land your dream job, improve your performance at work, or build a high-performing team – this assessment could be your key to success.


The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire helps unlock potential and guide successful career paths. It’s not just about identifying your strengths and weaknesses. It’s about understanding the influence of traits on work behavior and leveraging them for career goals.

The questionnaire provides valuable insights that can help both individuals and organizations make informed decisions. For job seekers, it offers a roadmap to identify suitable roles that align with their personality traits. For employees, it serves as a self-development tool to enhance their performance and productivity. And for employers, it aids in making strategic hiring decisions by predicting job performance based on personality characteristics.

Preparing for the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right approach and resources, you can effectively navigate through this process. Remember, honesty is key when answering the questions – there are no right or wrong answers.


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