At some point in your life you may be required by your current or prospective employer to take a personality inventory. This inventory is designed to reveal an individual’s specific personality traits. Many companies use these inventories and call them questionnaires rather than tests since no one really wants to take a test. Calling it a questionnaire makes it seem less intimidating. Basically, these human resource officers want to lessen the anxiety level and help individuals realize that they won’t be wrong when it comes to showing their true personality.
Maybe you want to figure out your personality and why you’re not meshing very well with colleagues in the office. You might want to take such an inventory to help you figure out what type of career field you would excel in. Whatever your reasons, there are several factors to consider when taking a personality inventory.
1. Understand the Purpose for the Inventory
Before you ever take a personality inventory, you need to understand why you’re taking it. The reason why will affect how you take the test. If you’re taking an online personality inventory while hanging out with friends—and consuming too many alcoholic drinks during the process—your reasons for taking it are to simply goof off and have fun. If you have to take one for work, your reasons would be very different. You know that the HR managers want to discover your personality traits and whether or not you’d be a good fit for the new job. Maybe your team manager wants to have all team members take an inventory to better understand their personalities so that they can work together as a more cohesive unit. Whatever the reason, you need to understand why you’re taking the personality inventory so you can execute your responses accordingly.
2. Take a Practice Personality Inventory
Of course you may not have the opportunity to get your hands on the exact personality inventory that the HR manager would ask you to complete in the workplace. However, as they say, practice makes perfect. One of the most comprehensive personality inventories you can take is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Many employers, who require employees and job candidates to take a personality inventory, use the Myers-Briggs indicator. You can practice for the personality inventory by taking the Myers-Briggs evaluation. It’s true that you won’t be able to completely prepare for taking the actual personality inventory that your employer requests you take. However, taking a practice inventory will give an idea of the questions that could be asked. This is especially helpful if you’ve never even laid eyes on a personality inventory. You won’t be so nervous and unprepared when going to take the “real” inventory if you’ve taken the time to prepare beforehand.
3. Be Honest While Taking the Inventory
It’s easy to lie to yourself and never take a proper inventory of who you are as a person and what your strengths and weaknesses are. So, when taking a personality inventory, you need to be honest. If you’re disingenuous regarding your responses and don’t take your true feelings, thoughts and behaviors into account, the results of your personality inventory won’t be accurate. Unless you want to keep lying to yourself, you’d better be honest with your responses on the inventory. If you’re trying to figure out your personality traits for your own knowledge, you can lie to yourself when responding. However, that won’t help you to hone your strengths and properly deal with your weaknesses.
You may think that responding a certain way to tip the scales in your favor—when taking a personality inventory for work purposes—will be to your benefit. However, nothing is further from the truth. Sure, you may get the job because you responded in a certain way and your results showed you as more extroverted than you really are. Yet, when those cold calls and in-person client meetings become unbearable, you only have yourself to blame. Maybe if you responded honestly on the inventory, you wouldn’t have gotten the job because you weren’t a perfect fit. Being honest would have saved both you and your employer a lot of time and effort.
4. Pay Attention to the Content and Context
You need to treat the personality inventory seriously as if you were taking a test and want to get a passing grade. Don’t rush through reading the questions as if you are scanning an email that you don’t really have time to read, and simply hope to get the gist of it at a glance. If you scan rather than read thoroughly, you may miss the specific context of the content and respond inaccurately. If you’re taking the test for the fun of it, disregard the need to pay attention to detail. You and your friends will probably get a kick out of the inaccurate results!
However, if you hope to get accurate results and truly find out what your personality type is, then take your time reading each question and respond accordingly. Scanning through the test too quickly can cause you to make mistakes in how you answer. You don’t want the HR manager to see that you have discrepancies in your responses. For example, you may be asked to what degree do you become stressed when dealing with conflict. Answering that you don’t experience a high level of stress, is fine. However, if you answer negatively to other questions concerning how well you handle conflicts with colleagues or high press situations, that will show a discrepancy in the test results. Basically, your divergent response won’t give the employer a reliable estimation of your personality type.
5. Do Something Positive with the Results
A big part of taking a personality inventory is doing something positive with the results. Once you know what your personality traits are, you can better understand who you are as a person. That should lead to positive growth. Finding out that you are an introvert can lead you to accept your strengths, while motivating you to become more adept at stepping outside your comfort zone. Now that you know you’re introverted, you can make an effort to increase your daily interactions with strangers or colleagues that you don’t know very well.
Maybe your inventory showed that you have a strong leadership personality, but your weakness is that you don’t easily accept help and you cannot readily admit defeat. Doing something positive with those results would mean that you start to realize that you are not perfect. Sometimes accepting help from others can help you to become a stronger and more developed professional as you learn to work better with colleagues. After you receive the results, you can share them with your manager, mentor or colleague who is a confidante and ask this person to help you find ways to hone your strengths and polish your weaknesses into positive attributes.
Personality inventories can give you an in-depth perspective of your specific strengths and weaknesses. When taking an inventory, make sure you know your reasons for completing one. You can increase your chances of completing an honest assessment if you take a practice inventory before having to complete one for an HR manager or your employer. Don’t hide from the facts of who you are. Respond to the inventory in an honest fashion and you’ll get realistic results that will be helpful to you and your employer. And remember, you need to make an effort to do something positive with the results that you get from your personality inventory.
Have you ever taken a personality inventory? Let us know in the comments section below.