How To Get The Most Out Of Personality Testing

The field of psychometrics testing has developed over the last 80 years or so, and within this area personality testing has become a mainstay of assessing candidates for certain job competencies and organisational fit.

Why is personality testing important? And why do most emotional intelligence tests focus on personality?

By asking this question, we are effectively asking why it is important to understand personality. Understanding different personality styles is a way of appreciating that everyone works differently and has different motivations and expressed personalities.

Through personality testing, we learn more about how others work and what they like and dislike. People rarely set out to be malicious, but nevertheless tension still occurs when we work with others. This may be down to a lack of understanding leading to a decreased recognition of personality differences when dealing with conflict.

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Additionally, it is not the case that personality testing is necessarily administered as a discovery tool on other people. We can also utilise personality testing on ourselves, for our own self-awareness. Undergoing personality testing ourselves allows us to can better understand how others may see us and how they may react to our personality styles. This allows us to better temper our working approach if we need to in any given situation.

Methods of Personality Testing

There are many theories and models out there that deal with personality testing and profiling. The most popular ones appear to be the Myers-Briggs Typology Indicator (MBTI), Five Factor Model (FFM), Marston’s DISC, Cattell’s 16PF, SHL’s Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) and the Birkman Method.

Most of these personality testing methods classify a person into personality types based on the proportion of answers that match a certain profile group. The answers are scored in some way and the results compared against a pre-determined database of individuals to highlight how the individual compares to the norm. The score is calculated based on percentage, normalisation, or range approximation (e.g. sten scores).

Personality testing usually does not take very long to complete, and tends to be administered online. Questions are typically asked in a multiple-choice format. Some tests will ask you to rank your degree of agreement with a given statement, or to compare two statements and select the one you feel best describes your response.

Usually the recommended way of approaching such a test is to go for the first option that you feel best reflects you position based on gut instinct, rather than linger on the question and consider the options too carefully.

There has been criticism that individuals may temper their answers to personality testing based on what they feel the expected answers should be. This can cause the personality testing result to be less reliable. To ensure internal consistency, many personality testing questionnaires are designed in such a way as to reduce the possibility of intentional deception by highlighting inconsistencies of the answers. This is accomplished, for example, by rephrasing a question and checking if the selected answers tally up.

In conclusion, most of the personnel profiling tools available today are arguably more accurately classified as personality testing. These personality tests are best used for recruitment purposes in determining basic traits and profiles.

However, when you’re considering the needs of comprehensive organisational development work or employee improvement, personality testing often does not deliver all the necessary data to facilitate a guided programme.  A more advanced development process than personality testing will be a full-on emotional intelligence test that sufficiently defines and directs a detailed coaching intervention.

Click here to see the difference between personality testing and full emotional intelligence tests.

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