How to Interpret Your DISC Personality Assessment Results

It looks overwhelming on paper — but it doesn’t have to be.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

DISC personality assessment results with big letters DISC

Personality tests are widely used to uncover people’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as their preferences and motivations, all of which inform their style of interacting with others and their ways of navigating various situations.

For the same reason, they’re also used by businesses, such as by hiring teams during the recruiting process, as they can provide more insights into the candidates than application forms and cover letters alone. This helps onboard people who not only suit the job description but also the company culture.

The DISC personality test is one of the most popular assessments for identifying behavioral styles and personal traits. In this article, we’ll explain how to interpret DISC scores and utilize the findings to achieve self-improvement and better relations in the workplace!

What is a DISC assessment?

First proposed in 1928 by physiological psychologist William Moulton Marston, DISC personality tests are designed to assess different behavioral types. Namely, these are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness (or sometimes Compliance), which work together to inform how we act in — and react to — certain circumstances.

The personality profile tool can help individuals gain a better understanding of themselves, which is a good starting point for developing on both a personal and professional level. The more a person can anticipate their own behavioral patterns or tendencies, the more effectively they can respond to and interact with others.

No DISC style is, therefore, preferential to or “better” than another; they all simply describe our preferences and default behaviors.

The benefits of taking a DISC assessment

Taking the DISC personality test has its benefits on both an intrapersonal and interpersonal level. That is: it allows you to gain a better understanding of yourself first and foremost, which can then influence your relationships with your colleagues and clients.

More specifically:

  • It improves your self-awareness, which is vital in managing your reactions and navigating challenges better.
  • It allows you to resolve conflicts faster, as you can anticipate your own reactions and better adapt to other people’s behavior styles.
  • It gives you insights that can improve your communication with others, reducing the likelihood for misunderstandings.
  • It can help you understand and relate to others better, enhancing your collaboration with colleagues and, as a result, your productivity.

How to interpret your DISC assessment results

The following five steps can help you interpret your DISC assessment results effectively so you can harness the insights and inform your career growth and fulfillment.

Step 1: Understand the four quadrants

Your DISC test results will show your level of four different traits. These traits are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness, giving the test its name: DISC.

DISC Assessment Quadrants

These four elements relate to different personality profiles. Your report will identify a specific letter or combination of letters to determine your profile. In order to recognize this key interpretation of your results, you must first understand the four areas measured.


The dominance trait looks at how competitive and goal-driven you are. It defines those who are strongly motivated by success and accomplishing results, measuring how well people work under pressure. This aspect describes those who are highly resourceful, enjoy challenging tasks, and can be direct, demanding and outspoken.


The influence trait identifies how well you relate to others and your level of optimism. This characteristic distinguishes those who are very people-focused and enjoy persuading and influencing their environment. They can be convincing individuals who are sociable, enthusiastic and open, although often avoid conflict and can become over-emotional.


The steadiness trait examines the sincerity and stability of your character. It looks for dependability and a peacekeeper vibe. This aspect identifies those who make good team players due to their cooperative nature and ability to create close personal relationships. This trait also demonstrates those who have difficulty making decisions assertively, and whose actions can be predictable.


The last of the four main profiles defines your level of analysis and problem solving. This element measures those who aim for quality, accuracy and precision, and who are particularly detail-oriented. Measuring a high level of independence and objectiveness, this trait also demonstrates those who are risk-averse.

It’s critical to understand these four basic elements, as they make up the entire DISC assessment and will give you many insights into your profile.

Step 2: Study your disc graph

Depending on what provider you choose, you’ll be presented with a specific structure of DISC test results. Some DISC reports will show you a circular graph with a single dot that defines your profile, while others may show you a series of three graphs. The following explanation will facilitate the interpretation of each style and graph.

Circular DISC graphs

DISC Circular GraphDiSC Profile

If your report presents circular graphs, you can understand which profile you have by identifying where the dot lies. The graph depicts one of the four main traits in each quarter. The closeness of the dot to the center or the exterior of the circle demonstrates the strength of inclination towards that specific trait. Therefore, for example, if your dot lies closer to the edge of the circle in the Dominance area, your profile is more inclined to that characteristic than any other.

In some circle graphs, each quarter is divided into thirds. These thirds are based on the different combined profiles that can occur. For example, if your dot is within the center third, you’re likely to identify significantly with the base trait. Whereas, if your dot lies closer to the top or bottom of the quarter, in the first or last third, your profile is a combination of a primary and secondary trait.

DISC profile graphs

DISC Profile GraphsDISC Insights

If your report has a set of three line graphs, you’ll need to interpret the meaning of each individually.

The first graph, known as the adapting profile, demonstrates the DISC test results according to a person’s public attitude and behavior. This graph represents how a person tends to act according to what they believe others expect. These results can sometimes change over time due to different environments or major life events.

The second graph, called the natural profile, reflects the instinctive behavioral style. This means how you’ve learnt to react naturally or in stressful situations. This graph will remain fairly consistent over time due to the fact it represents your core self that doesn’t tend to change drastically.

The final graph is a summary of the two previous graphs. This is a snapshot of your predominant style, combining the information of your private and public selves.

Sometimes, there may be few differences between the first two graphs and, therefore, the third graph will reflect the same. However, in cases where there are some significant differences, the final graph demonstrates the overall relationship.

Where considerable differences are present, this may mean that you’re aiming to consistently adapt your natural behavior to specific situations such as the workplace. This can be highly stressful and often be an ineffective way to collaborate with others. This is important to take into account in your interpretation.

3. Familiarize yourself with your highest DISC dimension

To get the most out of the graph analysis, you’ll need to study the traits that stand out. Your DISC assessment report will give you information on how your responses demonstrate certain needs and preferences. The report will do this by categorizing you into one of the four areas and detailing that particular style.

You should get to know the particularities of your predominant dimension. Armed with the information of your priorities and communication style, you can find ways to work in different situations and with different people.

DISC Dimensions

For example, if your highest dimension is Dominance, it’s possible that you crave control in certain circumstances. To help you to collaborate with others, you could look for ways to feel in control without coming off as domineering by increasing your empathy.

If, on the other hand, your highest dimension is Influence, you may be someone who needs lots of social interaction and seeks approval. You could benefit your working profile by toning down this overwhelming need to be liked and sometimes looking at things more objectively.

Those who identify with the Steadiness trait could be prone to avoiding conflict in order to keep the peace. If this is your case, it may be beneficial for you to learn how to negotiate and debate. This may take you out of your comfort zone, but it’s likely to help you develop both professionally and personally.

Finally, if your highest dimension is Conscientiousness, you may be someone who uses lots of data to make decisions, but this can be overwhelming for other people. It could be advantageous to you to learn how to acknowledge the feelings of others in your decision-making processes.

Learning as much as possible about your DISC profile could open up a world of new career choices or help you to adapt to your current situation. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of your behavioral style allows you to develop a more effective way of engaging with others and undertaking professional projects.

4. Explore your intensity index

It’s important to remember that everyone’s style is made up of the four distinct characteristics to differing degrees. Your answers on the DISC assessment will measure to which extent you rely on each trait and sub-trait (the combination of traits) in certain situations. This means it will look at the intensity of each factor, meaning how high or low the score is in each area.

It may be that your results show just one key characteristic over the midline, displaying the highest score. This will demonstrate a strong intensity for that trait. However, you may have two or three, in which case the intensity may be dulled but spread out. Every individual will be different.

Typically, one or two traits above the midline is a common occurrence. These are known as the primary and secondary traits. Those below the midline, demonstrating a reduced intensity, are known as low traits.

Understanding the intensity of each trait in your profile can help you to determine which parts of your personality define your actions. Your intensity index will describe elements of each area through the use of adjectives that could be seen as strengths or weaknesses depending on your profile.

Use these descriptions to give meaning to your actions and find ways to increase your effectiveness in each area.

5. Review your profile pattern

Each individual’s responses result in a certain pattern according to the DISC graphs. The assessment has identified 15 classical patterns with specific names:

DISC Profile Patterns

Each one relates to a personality profile. Although you may identify to a greater or lesser extent in some ways, these profiles have more in-depth explanations of your tendencies and preferences.

This part of your DISC assessment results will give you a description of your overall personality and how you tackle obstacles. This final analysis is aimed at offering insight into how you currently interact with others and how you approach different situations. But it will also recommend ways that you might benefit by modifying your current style, particularly when working with other profile types.

Looking at your profile as a whole can help you to see the advantages of your style and areas that you can improve on depending on your specific goals. This area is ideal to help you develop an action plan if you have certain objectives to meet.

How to apply your DISC results at work

As they say, knowledge is power. Let’s talk about interpreting DISC assessment results and turning them into actionable steps towards self-improvement in the workplace.

1. Identify areas and means for improvement

Knowing your DISC type can help you uncover areas for improvement relating to your role. For example, direct communication might not come as easily to you as to someone with a higher Dominance score, but if your role entails giving concise feedback, you could benefit from working on it.

In this example, sharpening up your spoken communication skills would enable you to do a better job while also benefiting your team.

2. Come up with a stress management strategy

The DISC assessment can reveal a lot about your preferences and instincts, both on good days and stressful days. Given that 83% of workers report suffering from work-related stress, there’s a high chance you too could benefit from understanding your behavioral tendencies under pressure.

3. Strengthen your work relationships

An understanding of the key DISC personality types can help you nurture a higher level of empathy for your colleagues. You’ll know which team members you’re likelier to butt heads with, and which ones intrinsically complement your communication and action-taking styles with their own.

This can foster teamwork and make your work environment healthier.

Final thoughts

Your DISC test results allow you to find meaning in your actions and behaviors. With the descriptions and explanations included, you can identify areas where you perform successfully and areas that can be improved to increase efficiency.

Although there’s no right way to take a personality test, you should always aim to be as honest as possible. This is the only way to ensure your results will be valid and helpful.

Remember that the DISC assessment, although often categorized as a personality test, is a tool to help evaluate certain behavioral styles according to the situation. This means you need to answer the questions and analyze the results relating to a certain environment. The way you act at home with your family won’t necessarily be the same as the way you behave at work.

Have you taken a DISC assessment test recently? Let us know how the results have helped you develop in your career in the comments section below!

Originally published on May 8, 2014. Updated by Electra Michaelidou.