The Ultimate Guide to DISC Personality Tests

Find out everything you need to know about DISC personality tests, including what they are, their benefits and the best platforms to take one.

Reviewed by Melina Theodorou

DISC personality tests

Career counsellors help individuals find their ideal career by identifying their unique skillsets and personal characteristics. Through the aid of personality evaluations and tests, they can define the type of work environment where their clients will thrive and help them gain a deeper understanding of themselves. 

The DISC personality test is among the most renowned evaluation methods available. 

It is also a tool that thousands of different organisations and businesses use to measure the behavioural styles of their workforce. 

Do you want to know more about DISC personality tests? Our comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know and demonstrate how they can help you find success in your career.

What is the DISC assessment?

The DISC test is based on a theory developed in the 1920s by psychologist William Moulton Marston (the pioneer behind the lie detector test and creator of the Wonder Woman persona). 

DISC was later adapted into an assessment tool by the industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke in the 1940s. Clarke collected and analysed data through his initial Activity Vector Analysis test, which supports Marston’s original theory. This led to years of further investigation of the DISC model, which resulted in it becoming a widely used psychometric system that offers expert insight into professional development.

Today, the DISC test is a self-assessment tool that can be completed digitally to ensure maximum accuracy in the results. This type of personality test is created to assess behavioural styles; the test measures how an individual communicates and interacts with others and their chosen way of doing things. It does so by evaluating how you identify with four core personality patterns.

These personality traits are labelled by their initials: D - Dominance, I - Influence, S - Steadiness and C - Conscientiousness, hence the name DISC. 

It is important to understand that these types of tests are not designed to clinically diagnose any conditions. Their primary use is to measure how a person relies on certain personality traits in their style of work and interactions with others.

1. Dominance

This area represents those who are confident and results-driven. People who fall in this category tend to be competitive and can work well under pressure. They can also come across as impatient or demanding at times.

2. Influence

This part embodies an open and sociable attitude. Those who fall under this trait are often talkative and people-focused. They shy away from conflict and can be described as over-emotional.

3. Steadiness

Steadiness corresponds to those who have a sincere and dependable persona. If you are part of this group, then you like to be helpful and are service-oriented. Your accommodating nature can mean that you may over-extend yourself and have difficulty making decisions with assertiveness.

4. Conscientiousness

This area describes a private, analytical profile. People belonging to this group tend to be good problem-solvers and prioritise accuracy. This methodical attitude can make them risk-averse.

What 12 personality variations are measured?

The results of the DISC test are categorised under 12 variations. Each variation is titled by the initials of the characteristics (up to two) which are most prevalent in individual. Each variation details the positive and negative aspects of the character type.

The possibilities are as follows:

1. D

Someone who demonstrates a strong tendency towards the D style prioritises action and results. This is often seen as the typical C-suite authoritative personality type. They are keen to be challenged and are often assertive - sometimes to the point of being forceful. If you have a dominant personality type, you may need to work on your patience or empathy to balance your strong-willed personality in certain situations.

2. DI

Within the realm of the Dominance trait are those who, while being generally assertive and results-oriented, are also curious and dynamic. They combine persuasive traits from the Influence area with the boldness of the Dominance category. Those defined by this variation should aim to be more considerate of others’ ideas.

3. DC

The third Dominance variation defines individuals who strive to be independent through their tough-minded and determined ways. While they can be creative and influential, sometimes their initiative can become stubborn. People who identify with this personality type could increase their effectiveness by improving their collaboration skills.

4. I

An individual who demonstrates an Influence-related personality is naturally friendly and optimistic. They tend to prioritise collaboration and show enthusiasm and warmth towards others. Although a highly engaged team player, their overly subjective nature can be problematic. However, by working on being more objective and less emotional towards certain situations, this can be amended.

5. ID

This variation of the Influence area includes those with a slightly more dominant personality. If you have an ID personality type, you are likely an ambitious and charismatic person who enjoys interacting with others. While some of your influential traits include openness and an adventurous attitude, this can sometimes mean you are overly optimistic and unreliable. In this case, it’s important to have a consistent routine and take more realistic approaches towards different tasks.

6. IS

Warm and accepting individuals are often categorised under the IS variation of the Influence area. They aim to be collaborative and empathetic while avoiding conflict. While their patience is greatly appreciated, they may sometimes find themselves causing more harm than good through their lack of directness. To remedy this, IS profiles must confront problems with a more straightforward approach.

7. S

Those with an S personality type are supportive and collaborative. They seek stability and security through their actions while aiming to keep the peace, among others. This often makes S personality types have a calming presence, but this may also be misinterpreted as a lack of self-confidence. To dissuade others of the latter, they must strive to make their needs better known and be perceptive of the needs of others. 

8. SI

Those who fall under the SI personality type have a generous and compassionate demeanour and a positive and approachable nature. Although profusely empathetic, this personality type tends to react emotionally in critical situations. By working on becoming more direct and assertive, SIs can help themselves thrive.  

9. SC

This final variation combines the reliability of S-type personas with the consistency and control of the Conscientiousness category. Those defined with SC personalities are diplomatic and humble people who are focused on steady goals. While this cautious manner can be advantageous, at times, SC individuals could benefit from being more spontaneous.

10. C

As a C personality type, you are driven by high standards: accuracy and precision are of the utmost importance. You may be more reserved, and your decision-making process is based on data and facts. This makes C profiles analytical and efficient at finding errors. However, this can also stop you from taking any risks and delay your decision-making process. To balance out your overly sceptical and fact-driven approach, try working with people who have a simpler attitude towards problem-solving. 

11. CS

Those with a CS personality type are often cautious and reliable individuals whilst also seeking precision and practicality in their work and life. CS personalities tend to overanalyse situations and overcomplicate solutions to simpler problems. This can sometimes be counterproductive if the situation calls for a decisive or urgent response.

12. CD

The last personality type variation is known as CD - a cross between the Conscientiousness and Dominance traits. Those who fall under this category are disciplined, critical thinkers who strive for efficiency. Although their ability to uphold strict standards can be beneficial in many ways, they can also come across as stubborn and critical. This can be altered by engaging in more collaborative environments and upholding other peoples’ strengths.

What are DISC assessments used for?

Often, businesses will use a DISC assessment to identify certain personality or behavioural traits that they feel will benefit specific positions or their overall company culture. For this reason, DISC assessments are incorporated within the recruitment or used to improve the general work atmosphere. 

That said, many people choose to complete a DISC assessment to inform their career decisions and boost their professional development. Indeed, there are many benefits that come with DISC assessments. Here are a few examples:

1. Teamwork

When everyone in a team knows and understands their communication and work style, they can work better with others. Team members can utilise their knowledge to improve their collaboration skills and overcome obstacles during a group task.

Those with awareness of their behavioural traits can learn to adapt to other styles and significantly improve their working relationships with their team members.

2. Self-awareness

We like to discover aspects of ourselves and identify ways to engage with others, positively and negatively. By recognising our strengths and weaknesses, we can become more self-aware and start to learn new skills. 

For example, if we know that we tend to convey information in a way that may come off as rude or stand-offish, we might try to approach certain situations differently. This, ultimately, helps us to grow both professionally and personally.

3. Leadership

Leaders are expected to create an environment that enables development and fosters innovation. To do so, they need to be able to resolve conflict and meet the needs of their employees. 

With the help of DISC assessments, you can become a better leader and use the different team dynamics to teach them how to use them to their advantage.

4. Stress management

Another benefit of the DISC assessment is that they help us manage stressful situations more effectively. Often, the main causes of stress in our jobs stem from our ability, or lack thereof, to communicate and interact with others. By understanding how you respond to conflict and comprehending what motivates and worries you, you can learn how to deal with stressful situations more efficiently.

DISC assessments allow you to witness how others solve problems and see how your behaviour can be perceived. With this insight, we can learn to interact in ways that do not provoke such stress.

How accurate are DISC assessments?

When psychologist William Moulton Marston published his theory, he labelled it DISC due to the four main behavioural traits that he had identified. At the time, these were Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance. These have since been changed to the modern-day DISC assessment.

The assessment itself is self-reported, which inevitably means it has its limitations. If a person responds inaccurately or chooses to be dishonest, the results will be flawed. The assessment is not clinical and, although it is based on a tried-and-tested psychological method, it is not an exact science. Therefore, where people are untruthful, the report will be erroneous.

Other errors can occur through misinterpretation of the questions or possible overthinking on the part of the respondent. Also, if you are afraid of what the results show, you may inadvertently give biased responses, which could lead to a false result.

Another consideration is the abundance of DISC tests available, some of which are not accurately based on the scientific method developed from Marston’s original theory. To ensure that you get the most accurate results, use an official and credible platform to take the test.

How does it work?

The DISC assessment takes the form of a questionnaire and consists of behavioural questions and statements to which you must answer using a scale of agreement – ‘Strongly agree’, ‘Agree’, ‘Neutral’, ‘Disagree’, ‘Strongly disagree’. It’s important to answer honestly - there are no right or wrong answers. 

Once you submit your answers, they are compared to each personality trait to match you to a specific personality type. Then, you will receive a digital report that details your DISC type along with its general traits, values and preferences. 

This information, in turn, will help you to understand what work environment and career suits your personality type

Where can I take a DISC assessment?

There are hundreds of personality tests available to you. However, it’s important to identify which are credible and based on science, as these will offer the most accurate results.

Our own career-matching platform, CareerHunter, offers a comprehensive work personality test that will help you find out more about your professional persona and how you work best. With these tools, you can find ways to improve your abilities to grow both professionally and personally.

When it comes to DISC tests, we also recommend the following options, all of which are authorised partners of Everything DiSC, an accredited and recognised DISC assessment platform:

  • The Disc Group
  • Leadership Alive
  • Integro

Whether you want to improve teamwork among your staff or simply want to find out how you can develop as an individual, a DISC assessment could be the way forward. 

Although it can be difficult for us to come to terms with our weaknesses, the insight we gain from these assessments can be vital to our success.

Have you ever taken a DISC personality test? Did you find its results beneficial? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.