The objective of a personality test is to provide insight into your personality. The term ‘test’ is perhaps not quite correct because it is comprised primarily of questionnaires. Your answers to typically a large number of questions are compared with the way these questions have been answered by others. A number of questions concern how you interact with people, such as: “talks easily to a stranger”. If you agree with statements like these, then the test will indicate that you are relatively ‘extrovert’.
When is a personality test good?
There are many nice and even humorous personality tests, but they are not all equally good. It is important that a test is reliable and valid before using it during an assessment or career choice dialogue. In The Netherlands, tests are assessed with regard to these qualities by a committee called Cotan, part of the Dutch Institute of Psychologists. These assessments are regrettably not publicly available, so as a candidate you have no access to them.
Cotan has positively assessed the Work-related Personality Questionnaire (WPV) developed by Ixly and applied by professional users in the Test-Toolkit.
Which personality test?
Personality theories are classified into two main groups that are measured by various questionnaires: personality traits and typologies.
Personality traits: the Big Five
Questionnaires based on personality traits are compiled on the assumption that people systematically differ from one another due to certain characteristics. Introvert or extrovert, for example; you are more or less extrovert in every situation you encounter. A personality trait can be regarded as the tendency to behave in a certain way. A score of 1 to 10 is then applied, whereby a 1 means you are a very closed and introvert person and a 10 indicates you are extremely open and extrovert. Most people are actually pretty average, with approximately 40% holding the middle ground between being introvert and extrovert.
Psychologists have determined that almost all personality traits can be traced to five factors; the Big Five.
- Influence: the degree to which people are ambitious and wish to influence others
- Sociability: the degree to which people are extrovert and focused on others
- Drive: the degree to which people are driven and energetic
- Structure: the degree to which people are orderly and accurate in their work
- Stability: the degree to which people are immune to stress and self assured.
You’ll mostly comes across this type of questionnaire during an assessment and there is widespread scientific support for this.
Typologies such as the MBTI
A typology typecasts you, to put it simply. You are either an introvert or an extrovert, there is no middle ground. This creates clarity and guidance. That’s why non-professional users apply them regularly, because it makes the world easier to understand.
An often-used typology is one claimed to be based on the work of Carl Jung. He can no longer counter that claim as he died in 1961 and most questionnaires were only developed after his death. There are however 16 types based on four character traits:
- extraversion/introversion (E/I)
- sensing/intuition (S/N)
- thinking/feeling (T/F)
- judging/perception (J/P)
These kind of questionnaires are inappropriate for the assessment or selection of a candidate, although you come across them occasionally. They are better suited to training sessions or teambuilding weekends, where you have less time for nuance and want to get to know a number of people quickly. ‘Branding’ them as mentioned above can help.