Personality Assessment, ‘TYPE’ and working styles.

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According to the BBC there are 2,500 personality tests on the market and more than 92% of employers surveys in the UK considered psychometric testing an important tool for recruitment. It is used by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies and has been translated into 24 different languages. It shouldn’t be a surprise, it is now regularly used by employers to assess personalities and psychometric qualities of candidates. Is it important to know our ‘type’? Is it important to undergo tests such as the one created by Myers-Briggs that can help both your personal and professional life?

From a graduate perspective, tests like the Myers-Brigg shouldn’t be set in stone. As people we are constantly changing. Our objectives change, perceptions can shift, and the ideal job for some can radically change at different stages in life. For example I have shifted from an (ENTP) to an (ENFP) in the space of a year. Not a drastic change but it symbolises how personality tests should be regarded as short-term snap-shots of what our mind-set is and what we want perhaps over a period of a year to eighteen months rather than a long-term characterisation of who you are and what you want.

The simplicity of Myers-Briggs (here is a example of the test), Shapes & Colors, FIRO-B (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behaviour), DISC and many others which are beautiful for companies seeking a simpler way to filter to-be employees into certain categories.  Rachel Robinson of the consultancy firm YSC in central London notes that “Myers-Briggs is the most successful psychometric out there and deservedly so…It has been a fantastic vehicle for people to think about themselves and how others are different.”

Individuals vary within the sixteen categories of MBTI. For example a ENFP is quoted in MBTI as ‘hating routine, schedules and structure’ which isn’t true in my case I tend to become very effective when I combine organisation with the supposed ‘creativity’ that makes an ENFP. Who’s to say a spontaneous person can’t become disciplined, organised and structured in their working environment? After all some people (not all) can switch from social life to work mode easily.

Obviously the MBTI isn’t recommended as a recruitment tool to be used in isolation; assessment centres, face-to-face interviews and other techniques should be used to assess whether a person is suitable for a job or not (i.e. competency, experience, organisational fit etc.). There are other tools with which employers can assess their candidates.

Active jobseekers who are constantly applying for and looking for work should note the value of personality tests. It can tell how you may like to work, what kind of environment suits you best and whether or not your personality and strengths, values and principles meet those of the company or job entailed. It is also very useful for leaders and fellow colleagues to assess different working styles, how they present themselves to other people and how to place themselves in other people’s shoes. This can help facilitate better teamwork and minimize team conflict.

For graduates who are unsure of what they want to do or unsure of what direction to take it is particularly useful, not at deciding what you should do, but for narrowing your options in what can sometimes can seem like a marketplace of too many choices. Personality tests in some cases can provide direction. You increase your self-knowledge: how you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, how you like to work in a team and how you solve problems and knowing these answers can help you immensely in interviews when faced with these style of questions.

Matthew Williams (Try this model based on the Myers Briggs test and compare it with the personality below )


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