Your employer has asked you to take a personality test. Why? What is a personality test? How accurate are they? And should you agree to take one?
So, what is a personality test?
Personality profiling provides you with a description of your personality, how you react to certain situations and what your specific strengths and weaknesses are. It's supposed to be primarily about who you are at work. Sometimes they can seem uncannily accurate, but there's no scientific research proving how conclusive they are.
What does the test involve?
It usually involves a series of questions about how you handle certain situations, with multi-choice or true/false answers. You can take a test online, but it's more beneficial if you do it with a qualified coach who'll explain the findings to you. Myers-Briggs, DISC and the Keirsey Personality Test are some of the most common tests.
Why might I take a personality profile test?
Profiling is often done in the workplace, on training days or at interview stage, and can be used by employers to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their staff. You could also choose to take one yourself to help you determine what kind of career would suit you.
How can it help me?
The process of answering questions about yourself can be very beneficial because it makes you stop and reflect on your behaviour. The results, when discussed at length with a qualified coach, can also help you to identify areas that you find challenging and address any weaknesses.
The process of answering questions about yourself can be very beneficial because it makes you stop and reflect on your behaviour.
What about the negatives?
While these tests can give you an idea of your personality, it shouldn't be seen as a label by which you live, a character you need to fill, or an excuse not to try new things. Nor should your employer judge you by the results, or try to pigeon-hole you.
Carol Wilson, managing director of PerformanceCoachTraining.com, explains how seeing your profile as set in stone can become a barrier to success: "I spend my whole working week making presentations and public speaking, but my actual profile says that I'm an introvert. If I'd had the profile done when I was younger I would've assumed I couldn't become a coach and speaker, and wouldn't now be running my own company," she says. "It's so important that if people have profiling done they discuss the findings with a coach, and realise that it's not a complete profile of your character, or your potential."
What if I don't want to take the test?
Ask your employer why they want you to take it, and what they're looking to find out. If it's part of a simple training and team-bonding exercise, and they have a coach there who will administer the test and talk through the results with you, there is no reason to be worried. Make sure that the results will be kept confidential; you are not obliged to share or discuss your profile with colleagues. If you feel strongly that you don't want to be tested, share your concerns with your employer. Some employers may require you take a test as part of the interview process, but once employed you can't be forced to undergo personality profiling.
Should I put it on my CV?
You may find taking a test gives you a better understanding of yourself and a stronger vocabulary to describe your personality, but be wary of announcing on your CV that you're a certain type. (It's of no benefit and a future employer may not understand the particular profiling system you're using.)
Where can I take a test?
You can take a test either online, through your employer or with a qualified coach.
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