Self-knowledge gives you a competitive advantage because you will know your strengths as well as what areas you need to work on.
And chances are good that you have areas in need of attention. The Hay Group found in a 2013 study that most executives need to become more self-aware to be effective leaders and managers.
Taking a personality assessment is the most common way to become aware of your work style, personality, and aptitude for certain occupations and industries. Take one or more of the assessments listed below and you will gain self-awareness about yourself at work — an asset that will benefit you in job search two ways.
- You can find jobs and organizational cultures in which you will fit best.
- You’ll be forearmed when employers ask you to take a personality assessment.
Many employers use personality assessment tools to determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the position in question. These tools also may be used to assess a candidate’s fit within a particular team and/or within the company as a whole. More and more employers realize that culture fit is an essential ingredient for making a successful hire – success meaning that the hire will perform well, remain with the company for a length of time, and possibly be a candidate for advancement.
These assessments are not fool-proof nor are they always accurate. You need to verify the validity of the results you get, by using your gut and own experience. Debriefing the results with an expert is an excellent way to verify your results and gain even more insight into them.
One client was asked to take a personality assessment by a prospective employer. The results in one area were uncharactistic of him. Because he had taken other assessments, he was able to write to the recruiter, explaining that the nature of the questions may have caused his results to be skewed, and then detailing his results in other assessments to back up his claim. He got a follow-up interview.
Many assessment tools exist as do firms that have developed their own proprietary systems. Here are some of the more commonly used self-assessment and self-knowledge tools.
MYERS BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR (MBTI)
The MBTI is a great instrument for learning about yourself and how you naturally think and behave. Many businesses use it to improve teamwork and communication. Based on Carl Jung’s psychological insights, the idea behind MBTI is that people naturally have preferences regarding how they operate in the world. We do some things very easily – going with the flow – while other things take more effort, because they are not natural to us.
- It’s empowering to know our personality type, to know where we are strong and where we need to flex – in other words, where we need to work harder to develop skills, or where we need other people to help us.
- It’s also great to know that other people have their own personality type preferences – there are 16 types in all. This means that people who annoy us at work probably are a very different MBTI personality than us.
Learning about different types helps us get along better at work by understanding that everyone has strengths and challenges.
You can take the Myers Briggs Type Indicator here at the Center for Applications of Personality Type (CAPT) . You will take the assessment on-line and later schedule a telephone debrief with one of CAPT’s MBTI-certified counselors. This is the real MBTI and the only one that has been validated. I recommend you make this investment in yourself!
However, you can take similar assessments for free. Here are some free MBTI-like assessments, all of which I have taken and all of which return the same findings that I found with my formal MBTI. I suggest taking them in order, and seeing what the results are. The last one is less of a “test” than a chance for you to verify the results of the first three, and it describes MBTI’s purpose pretty well.
For more information on your MBTI personality type, go to these sites:
http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/ (this is the “home site” for all things MBTI)
http://www.capt.org/mbti-assessment/type-descriptions.htmhttp://www.personalitypage.com/portraits.html (for longer, more detailed descriptions)
DiSC® is a “personal assessment” tool used by millions of individuals and companies to improve productivity, teamwork, communication and work/job satisfaction. It measures 4 “reference points”: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.
- The original DiSC® 2.0 assessment costs $35.95. This gives your basic DiSC® profile and insights as to how you can leverage the information in job search and work situations.
- The Everything DiSC® Workplace Profile costs $53.95 and provides a more comprehensive assessment of your behavior in teams and working with others.
- To learn about your leadership style, take the Everything DiSC®Work of Leaders Profile. It costs $89.95.
Here’s what the DiSC® site says:
DiSC measures your personality and behavioral style. It does not measure intelligence, aptitude, mental health or values. DiSC profiles describe human behavior in various situations, for example how you respond to challenges, how you influence others, your preferred pace and how you respond to rules and procedures.
The DiSC model discusses four reference points:
Dominance – direct, strong-willed and forceful
Influence – sociable, talkative and lively
Steadiness – gentle, accommodating and soft-hearted
Conscientiousness – private, analytical and logical
DiSC® has a long history, continually evolving to become more reliable, easier to administer and more memorable for the user. While the latest release of a DiSC product was in 2010, the initial theoretical work was completed in the 1920s.
THE BIRKMAN METHOD
The Birkman Abilities Inventory is an on-line assessment of your interests, behaviors, needs, and stress behaviors. It builds a profile showing your preferences in general reasoning, problem identification and problem solving, quantitative ability, spatial ability, and verbal ability.
The basic inventory costs $24.50. You can take the questionnaire for free here. The questionnaire contains 3 parts: How do you see most people? How do you see yourself? and Which jobs interest you the most?
With the free version, you’ll get a 10 page Lifestyle report on some basic items: Your interests and the kinds of activities you usually prefer; Your usual style – how you behave in normal conditions, your most effective style; Your needs – the support or motivation you need from others or from your environment to be effective; and How you react under stress. How your usual style changes when your needs aren’t met.
The free report is NOT comprehensive. You’ll need to pay to get a more comprehensive view of your style, behaviors, and needs in the workplace, and to get information on career areas and occupations most attuned to your style, needs, and behaviors. Those reports cost $29.50 each.
GALLUP STRENGTHS FINDER
The Gallup StrengthsFinder is a great way to identify your core ways of approaching the world and work. It’s just $9.99 to find your top 5. You’ll get great information about yourself, that will increase your confidence. It will also help you talk about yourself with more powerful language.
Here’s what Gallup says about it:
Many years of research conducted by The Gallup Organization suggest that the most effective people are those who understand their strengths and behaviors. These people are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of their daily lives, their careers, and their families.
A review of the knowledge and skills you have acquired can provide a basic sense of your abilities, but an awareness and understanding of your natural talents will provide true insight into the core reasons behind your consistent successes.
Your Signature Themes report presents your five most dominant themes of talent, in the rank order revealed by your responses to StrengthsFinder. Of the 34 themes measured, these are your “top five.”
Your Signature Themes are very important in maximizing the talents that lead to your successes. By focusing on your Signature Themes, separately and in combination, you can identify your talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy personal and career success through consistent, near-perfect performance.
As I said before, there are many proprietary methods used by companies to assess your “fit” for a position, team or company. Those methods are not usually available for people to take to assess themselves. By using one of these four most common assessments, you’ll gain enough self-awareness to help you target jobs and employers that suit you, and to add to an employer’s assessment to give you more of a chance to get the job.