What if we told you that choosing an ideal career path was as easy as choosing which toppings work well together on a pizza?
Yes, the risk is a little higher in the context of job choices, but the method is very similar. All you need to do is choose a career which compliments your personality, interests and lifestyle.
So, what's your personality type? Cue an awkward silence and some crickets.
Don't worry, that was a trick question. If you've never taken a personality test, we don't expect you to know the answer.
Personality tests are great, they help us understand who we are and the conditions we'll thrive in. Our guide will walk you through everything you need to know about personality tests.
What are personality tests?
We all have a certain uniqueness that affects the way we typically interact with the world and ourselves - that's our personality. Personality tests help us understand our distinct character and features.
They're an assessment method that measures all of our unique traits, such as:
- Behaviours: the way we conduct ourselves and our interpersonal relations
- Emotions: our instinctive and intuitive feelings
- Attitudes: the way we think or feel about something
- Motivations: our reasons for behaving a particular way
- Values: our unique principles or standards of behaviour.
Through a personality test, you might discover parts of yourself that you have never considered, learn more about your strengths and find connections between your personality and career.
What are they used for?
Research revealed that the value of psychological tests sold every year to UK organisations is worth more than £20 million (PDF). In other words, they are pretty in demand.
The extensive use of personality tests shows that they have a multitude of purpose, such as:
- Self-discovery: getting insight into who we are
- Research contribution: helping psychologist identify patterns between our personality types and behaviours
- Self-development: bettering ourselves by identifying areas of development
- Career and academic counselling: identifying potential career paths and informing our decision-making
- Job testing: testing for a new job position.
- Diagnosis: identifying potential personality disorders by analysing our behaviours and mental functions.
Whether you take a personality test out of interest or for a job selection, personality tests are a tool that allows you and others to understand you better.
Although it's a test, it's important to remember that no personality type is better than the other, and there aren't any wrong answers!
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Types of personality tests
While the internet houses hundreds of personality tests and online quizzes, most personality tests can be categorised as either an objective test or a projective test.
Objective tests are personality tests that require us to answer a set of standard questions, and the psychologist reviews our answers and provides accurate results. The assessment is mathematical and trustworthy.
On the other hand, during a projective test, a psychologist provides you with ambiguous content and subjectively interprets your reactions, which indicate different aspects of your personality. The assessment relies on the expertise of the psychologist.
Objective tests are common because they're very accurate. It includes tests such as:
- Myers-Briggs type indicator: tells you where you get your energy, how you interpret information, make decisions and relate to the outside world.
- 16PF (personality factor) test: analyses factors like your reasoning, emotional stability, dominance, rule-consciousness, sensitivity, vigilance and openness to change, to list just a few.
Projective tests are less common, and they can make psychologists seem like mind readers. This category includes tests like:
- Rorschach test: tells you about your personality characteristics, emotional functioning, unconscious attitudes and motivations via your perception of strange shapes (black inkblots).
- Thematic apperception test: tells us about your personality characteristics and emotional functioning. A psychologist will ask you to tell them stories about ambiguous drawings; they'll be able to gather a lot about your personality by observing your thought processes.
Interesting, isn't it? The mind is fascinating.
Pros of taking a personality test
After taking a personality test, you'll confidently know if a career path suits you. But there are many other benefits you should also consider:
1. It'll help you better understand others and yourself
We get so used to the way we see the world that we forget that others see it differently from us. Personality tests teach us how our unique views, opinions, attitudes and traits differ from others. This helps us interact and reason with people more effectively.
2. You'll learn about your strengths and weaknesses
Our days are filled with decisions. We'll be more equipped to make effective decisions if we're aware of your strengths and weaknesses. By having an awareness of which areas you'll thrive in, you can take more confident steps in your career and personal life.
3. You'll find out in which situations you can thrive in
Learning about our personality can help you understand your ideal environment, both in a work setting and in your personal life. Knowing your right environment is key to achieving work and life satisfaction.
For instance, you might thrive in a fast-paced environment, while others prefer a quiet office setting. We're all unique, and a personality test will help you discover where you belong.
4. You'll identify the best learning and working techniques for you
Understanding your personality type can help you optimise and enhance your learning. Utilising this information and figuring out a suitable working style could be a lot more efficient and successful with different tasks.
5. It's an empowering process
Have you ever wondered why you behave the way you do? Well, this is a great way to find out. It's also fun and empowering as it provides you with information that'll make you more self-aware. Your results could also encourage you to build on your strength and identify areas where you'd like to make improvements.
Sometimes when we notice that we're different from others, we'll think there's something wrong with us. But, personality tests say that we're different and uniquely equipped with our strengths. It's empowering to work with your personality and not against it.
Cons of taking a personality test
While the saying' nothing ventured, nothing gained' may be true. It's important also to realise that finding out your personality type isn't the answer to your career decisions.
They're an important source of information but should be used in conjunction with other factors.
Indeed, a personality test also has its weaknesses:
1. Its results are not a guarantee
Personality tests will reveal the areas you are most suited for and interested in based on your traits. However, it cannot fully predict if you will feel passionate about a job role. It's an estimation, not a guarantee.
For instance, if you have a detail-orientated personality type, you might be matched with a data analyst job role. However, this does not mean you would enjoy the tasks and responsibilities that come with this position.
Personality tests should act as one source of information when making decisions, but not the only one.
2. It can inhibit you from trying new things
If we cling to the idea of what our personality test says we are, we might never divert from that. Yet, being stretched into areas of unfamiliarity aids our development.
For instance, if you only befriend people suited to your personality type, you're hindering your relationships and excluding potentially great friendships. You should explore all opportunities life presents to you - don't feel bound to the test's results.
3. It isn't 100% accurate
Yes, personality tests are pretty accurate, but not completely. Research has proven that people might fake their answers based on how they want to seem and not how they are. Additionally, mood fluctuations and environmental influences play a large role in how you respond to test questions.
It's crucial not to get too hung up on your results; humans are capable of change, development and versatility.
Tips for taking a personality test
Personality tests tend to be self-explanatory and easy to navigate through. While there's no magic recipe when it comes to taking one, but it's important to be aware of these tips:
1. Ensure the test isn't culturally biased
Most psychological tests are built around Western perspectives and utilise predominant Western norms, which may not be applicable to you and your own culture. These details can affect your results, so do some research and find a test that is a good fit for you.
2. Give honest answers
By pretending to be anything other than yourself, you're risking getting inaccurate results.
Your answers may reflect who you want to be rather than who you actually are. It's crucial that you are as honest as possible whilst taking the test.
Side note: If you feel like you have to fake your personality for a job assessment, that's a good indicator that perhaps this role isn't suited for you.
3. Read the instructions carefully
Taking it slow and understanding what the tests wants from you will help you gain more accurate results. Try not to rush through the assessment. Instead, focus your attention on each question and its listed options and choose an answer that is applicable to you.
4. Don't give vague answers
Vagueness will affect the test result's accuracy. Answer with certainty as much as possible. Remember that we're human, so we have the ability to act in a variety of ways, but we're more inclined to act a certain way, so respond with certainty.
5. Be aware of the time
Don't rush through the test but also don't overthink its questions. Often, your first inkling is the most truthful response. If you go too fast without carefully reading the question, you'll answer inaccurately. But, if you spend too long dissecting the question, you'll end up questioning your natural response. Balance is key.
6. Be in a good mental state before taking the test
Fatigue, hunger and stress will affect your focus and mood, which will also affect your test. Make sure you are feeling well before sitting down to take a test, as this will allow for your true self to shine through.
Personality tests are fascinating! By taking the time to discover yourself and align your career journey to your distinct personality, you will be able to find a suitable path.
Luckily, there's numerous tests available online, but you could also visit a professional for an assessment.
Our own career testing platform, CareerHunter, also includes a personality test that can help you discover your aptitudes, distinct traits and interests. If you would like to see how your personality matches up to over 250 careers, make sure to give it a go!
Have you ever taken a personality test? What were your impressions? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 31 May 2017.