Personality tests.

That phrase can drive people crazy. Especially since more companies are asking candidates to take them as part of the interview process.

“Those tests don’t really tell you anything.” “I hate taking tests!” “Why do they want to know my personality?” “What are the right answers?”

The reality is that these assessment mechanisms DO reveal a lot about a person. In fact, personality “tests” are not really tests at all. They are ways for people to learn about their own and other people’s preferences, natural tendencies, learning style, and approach to situations. Therefore, there are no “right” answers.

Today more than ever, employers are looking for a good culture fit – someone who shares the company’s values, work ethic, desired attitude and behaviors. Those that use personality tests usually:

  • are looking for a specific personality type to complement their existing team;
  • have learned that certain personality types are more likely to succeed in specific positions; or
  • want to know the potential opportunities and challenges each candidate could bring to the workplace.

Similarly, you can get to know more about your own personality in order to find cultures, companies and positions where you are more likely to fit in and be successful.

One of the most popular personality tools is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). With MBTI, you discover your natural personality type. This is how you naturally perceive and respond to life. Once you know how you naturally prefer to be in the world, you can also learn the areas in which you need to stretch and grow.

For example, I’m an ENFP – Extroverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiver. My shorthand for understanding my type is that: I think out loud, pick things up and read between the lines, put people first before things, and am comfortable with ambiguity and unfinished projects. My “stretch” areas are: thinking before I speak, gathering facts and evidence for decision-making, holding people accountable for their deliverables, and sticking to deadlines. Obviously, over my career, I have successfully stretched in all these areas. I helped myself know what to focus on by taking the MBTI.

Perhaps most important, my MBTI type helped me recognize the kind of culture that suits me best, and in which I will do my best work. My natural tendencies mean I am not happy working in a place that values getting things done ahead of relationships with people – and if I can help it, I won’t ever work in such a culture again. I believe that when you have great relationships with people, things get done and done very well indeed. It’s a matter of emphasis that’s perhaps predicted by personality type.

If you want to know your personality type and its implications for your career and job choices, take the MBTI. The cost for the real thing is $150 on line, and you will get a personalized result and a feedback session with someone trained in administering and interpreting MBTI. It’s the only place to get the real one on-line – and if you are so inclined, well worth the investment.

When you go there, keep in mind a couple of things:

  1. Just go with your immediate response; no thinking! And don’t go back and change your answers. The first response is the best reflection of your real preferences.
  2. There are no right or wrong answers. This is simply to learn about who YOU are, what YOUR preferences are, how YOU relate to the world, yourself and others. So you need to suspend judgment and just report your true preferences.

If you don’t have the money for the MBTI, here are two sites where you can take a brief version of a Jungian personality type indicator: Humanmetrics and Similar Minds. These sites offer only a brief version because the MBTI process is owned by the Center for Applied Psychological Type (CAPT). So you will be getting a less accurate result than if you took the real one. I find these to be pretty accurate, however.

To understand more about personality type, you can visit these sites:

Personality Pathways
Personality Page
Myers Briggs