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OPQ Personality Test - History

The History of the OPQ within Recruitment & Development

OPQ Personality Test History – Strictly speaking, it is called the OPQ – the Occupational Personality Questionnaire – but most refer to it as the OPQ Test or OPQ Personality Test. The OPQ is a well-researched personality tool used all around the world by many organisations. The first Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) was launched in 1984 by Saville and Holdsworth Ltd – now SHL – as the OPQ Concept Model. This was a model of occupational personality with questions and descriptors relevant to the workplace. It was updated in 1999 to measure a total of 32 personality characteristics and was therefore renamed as the OPQ32.

Quest Partnership’s MD, Max Choi was involved in this update.

OPQ32n and OPQ32i

The OPQ32 was published in 2 versions – OPQ32n and OPQ32i.

OPQ has a quality pedigree and Peter Saville is the key person behind it. The OPQ32 was published in 2 versions – OPQ32n and OPQ32i.

The OPQ32n is a normative questionnaire which asks candidates to rate the accuracy of a statement on a scale of 1 to 5. It also has a measure of ‘Social Desirability’ i.e. an indication of whether the individual has tried to give a good impression of themselves.

The OPQ32i is an ipsative questionnaire which forced candidates to choose from a series of statements to select both the one that best described them and the statement that least described them. This is called a ‘forced choice’ approach. It included a measure of consistency i.e. whether the candidate had selected similar descriptors throughout the questionnaire. The forced choice approach was an attempt to reduce faking. However, critics would argue that ipsative profiles are internalised profiles. That is to say, we do not know how they compare to others.

OPQ Personality Test History – Initially launched in English with just 2 comparison groups (UK General Population and UK Managers & Professionals), the OPQ Personality test is now available in over 30 languages and with a wide range of comparison groups.

Whilst the original versions were developed for supervised administration, research following the rapid development of internet applications indicated that unsupervised testing had no adverse effects and in fact, online technology increased the accuracy of scoring. The latest version of the OPQ is the OPQ32r which was published in 2012. It is only available online and is essentially a slightly shorter version of OPQ32i i.e. uses a forced choice approach. It takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Although it also uses a forced choice approach the OPQ32r is normed, so you can now compare the individual against available comparison groups.

Using the OPQ Personality Test

Proven to be a good predictor of future performance, the OPQ32 questionnaire has a wide range of uses including:

  • Recruitment
  • Development & Coaching
  • Team development & Performance Management
  • Organisational change, Restructuring & Succession Planning

The OPQ Personality Test generates an extensive range of reports.

Used by HR Professionals, line managers & candidates. It provides information on key areas of behaviour which can have an impact in the workplace. The reports are built around 3 areas:

  • Relationships with People
  • Thinking Style
  • Feelings and Emotions

OPQ Personality Test - Some of the key reports available are:

  • The Interview Report supporting interviewers.


  • Leadership Report to support senior level recruitment and development.


  • Manager Plus Report supports line managers and HR professionals with recruitment at all levels



  • Universal Competency Report for Talent Development.


  • Emotional Intelligence Report for Individual Leadership Development

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