Personality assessment involves answering a series of questions to determine your traits and tendencies. Employers use them as a tool for determining if a job is a good match for a potential employee. People also take them to discover what jobs are best for them. Assessments aren't perfect but can be helpful devices in potentially saving time and money. When workers are well-placed in positions that fit their personalities, they are more likely to stay on the job and save their employers time and money for training. The answers to individual questions are not as important as the overall picture personality tests can reveal.
The interest in personality types goes all the way back to the Ancient Greeks and Hippocrates. He acknowledged the first personality theory and divided personality types into four temperaments. Other personality models evolved over time and increased in number around the early 20th century as the field of psychology grew with theorists like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Nineteenth century physiologist Wilhelm Wundt developed a theory of personalities based on four temperaments -- sanguine, melancholy, phlegm and cholera -- referring respectively to people who are sociable, analytical, easygoing and strong-willed. Wundt theorized that people were not limited to just one type of personality.
What Employers Look For
The next time you apply for a job at a company like HHGregg or Sprint, you may be asked to take a personality test. Employers take the results from these assessments and match them against the position you are seeking. People with specific personality traits often excel in certain jobs. Interviewers look for outgoing types to fill sales positions. Alternatively, someone who is gregarious and a natural leader might not be happy sitting behind a desk as an accountant. Because potential employees may give answers they think are ideal and not necessarily truthful, some employers choose to test with multiple assessments to determine consistency.
Choosing Career Paths
Choosing a career path can be daunting. Some people grow up always knowing what they want to do for a living, while others need help figuring that out. Taking personality assessments on your own is a good way to help yourself make career decisions. At times, the results confirm what you already know to be true and other times will reveal new information that leads to a wider choice of careers. Free, online versions of the tests are often shortened versions of the tests, so you may not get the full picture and you may have to pay to take the full version.
Two common personality assessments used in career testing are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory. Based on Carl Jung's theory, the MBTI concludes how people deal with the world around them and how they process information and make decisions. The SII matches your preferences with others who have found satisfaction specific careers. Both tests analyze your answers and help provide feedback to you and your employers about what careers may be best for you.
- ColorCode: The History of Personality Theory and Assessment
- The Wall Street Journal: True or False: These Tests Can Tell if You Are Right for This Job
- The Myers & Briggs Foundation: MBTI Basics
- Michigan Student Affairs: Career Assessment Tools
- Work Strategically: Personality Tests for Career Placement
- Four Temperaments: Description of the Four Temperaments
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