Many people swear by personality tests as aids to help maximize their abilities and improve their careers. They find that the tests help them understand and identify areas of hidden or lesser known talents, and provide insight into how they may work better with others. The Myers-Briggs test by Myers and Briggs is one of the most well respected and established. There are so many tests out there; what makes one test better than another, other than a good price and a well known name?
According to research done by Performance Programs Inc., a 20 year old human resources consulting firm of industrial psychologists specializing in assessments, there are five criteria that a quality personality test must meet:
Comprehensive: Does the test measure intelligence, motivation, learned skills, natural abilities included in personality, and organizational culture?
Systematic: Are the characteristics listed under the ‘comprehensive’ heading above described in a neutral, informational way? Also, can the motivation and learned skills assessments be repeated at reasonable intervals to identify changes?
Fast: Can the test results be analyzed and understood in a reasonable and practical time parameter? 360 feedback, in which everyone from every angle of interaction evaluates and gives feedback to the subject, can take years to become accurate. Organizational surveys can also be time consuming and costly. Also, the sooner the participants are able to understand and retain their analysis, the better.
Confidential: Are the results confidential? Although letting co-workers know the results of tests for teambuilding purposes can be productive, the participants need to have the ability to keep their test scores and conclusions confidential. The accuracy and integrity of the scores remain higher and the ultimate results turn out better.
Conducive to Improving Group Processes: Individuals need to be able to understand themselves better in order to improve their team-working abilities with their associates. Does the test give insight that is helpful to interpersonal communications?
The Myers Briggs test is known as fitting the criteria. Performance Programs Inc. promotes Hogan Assessment Systems as fitting the criteria. CORE MAP® Multidemensional Awareness Profile is used by several Fortune 500 corporations and fits the description. The second two tests are not as widely known as Myers-Briggs or some of the others listed below, but fit the criteria according to consulting firms that provide the testing, and are used at some of the largest companies.
The most well known tests associated with the label ‘personality tests’ are not necessarily the best tests to take to understand oneself better for career growth purposes. According to James Hazen, Ph.D. of Applied Behavioral Insights, the most popular personality tests and their purposes are quite varied. Here is a summary:
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is used to measure abnormal or deviant behavior and is known as being best used in court settings as a clinical instrument.
The California Psychological Inventory (CPI) measures personality traits including sociability and dominance. It is noted as having more subjective interpretation and needing a psychologist to interpret the results.
The Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness Test (DISC) measures style of personality and self-image, and is known to be useful for teambuilding, and assessing and addressing cultural fit and chemistry.
Profiles XT measures cognitive skills and job success potential and has been found useful for hiring, comparing jobs and succession planning.
The Myers-Briggs test measures personality type and how an individual processes information, and is best used to understand how one communicates. It is actually not recommended for hiring.
These tests and others can be taken by individuals wanting to improve their career. Although a quick quiz may shed some light on abilities and personality, to improve one’s career and ability to work with others, more in depth testing and a greater investment of time is usually required.
The Myers-Briggs which can be analyzed without a personal moderator interpreting the results may be taken for as low as about $40 via some online sources, and other tests may cost as much as $600. The benefits of the personal moderator are certainly high when the intricacies of the analysis are dense, however the self-assessment tools have proven useful at both ends of the cost spectrum.
Discussion and thought provoking questions: 1. Have you ever taken a personality test? 2. If you have, did it make you think about yourself? 3. If you haven't, what have you heard about pesonality tests?
has edited and written for consumer Web sites and publications reaching nearly 50 million people. Her credits include writing and editing online and print articles, sales and training materials, marketing collateral, and advertising and PR for conusmer companies including BeautiControl, a Tupperware subsidiary's publications to women ages 20s through 50s, the WHO Foundation, Women Helping Others, MCG Magazine, Los Angeles and Seasonal Living Guide for Sam’s Club, a retailing subsidiary of Wal-Mart. Her career also includes working and living in Canada and Japan. Jean is well regarded for her market-research based approach to managing story development enabling consistently original, relevant and timely content.