This time, it’s personality




It may be because I fear I lack one myself, but I have always been hugely skeptical of personality tests.

I know that most are fiendishly clever pieces of work and that a great deal of scientific-style thought has gone into creating them. I know, too, that there are many skilled people capable of interpreting the data to assess the personality traits of those taking these tests.

But I can’t help but fear that incorrectly handled, they may be nothing more than the modern-day equivalent of a horoscope.

Personality tests seem to be a growing trend in the world of HR and recruitment although, of course, they are nothing new.  I gave my personality up first to Jung via Myers & Briggs but became a bit more promiscuous later.

In a blue box labeled My Development I have a cache of different tests completed over the years.  All but one – curse you Firo B – seem to portray me with reasonable accuracy.

Most suggest I am confident, do not tend towards stress, that I am comfortable with the thrust and parry of the boardroom, enjoy debate, good at influencing and managing conflict, that I listen, I praise and, yes, yes, sometimes I talk a little too much when I get enthusiastic.

Yesterday, I took another, just to make sure.

This one came in three parts and was designed to assess my business acumen alongside my verbal and abstract reasoning. In total it took almost two hours to complete and consisted of more than 300 questions and several detailed exercises.

As I sat at my laptop reading the instructions, I couldn’t help but think of the Voight-Kampff Test in Blade Runner…”My mother? Let me tell you about my mother…”

Given my responses, as well as the more positive traits, above, the test is likely to highlight a number others that touch on some of the keywords in recruitment and for which I feel the need to provide caveats. It will say:

  1. That I am not big on detail. And yet as a former sub-editor and creative director, I acknowledge detail is insanely important. I never ignore the detail and always pay close attention to it when necessary but it is not something I go out of my way to get stuck in. I prefer the big picture. I breathe better that way.
  2. That I tend to lack ambition. This is not to say I don’t want to succeed, or to move up into gradually more significant and well-paid roles, it’s just that this is not what motivates me. I am not looking to do well to move up. I want to do well to feel fulfilled in my role and to feel I have succeeded.
  3. That I don’t consider myself as a leader. In truth I don’t feel comfortable with being seen as a leader but I do feel strongly about leading people. I am certainly comfortable leading a team but I would rather influence quietly and effectively from the side when it comes to business as a whole. My strength is perhaps more of a trusted advisor or critical friend to the leader.
  4. I am comfortable making decisions and prepared to take them swiftly. True, but while I make them swiftly, I rely on objective evidence.

I await the results with interest and not a little trepidation.

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