Matt-Rody-Mastodon-Media-SeattleI am a big believer in personality tests.

I know they are extremely controversial and they’re not all perfect. There is a common perception that personality tests are a grey-area practice that some companies employ to discriminate a group of candidates right out of the reckoning, on the basis of some trumped up set of questions and answers. That they’re formulated by academicians and psychoanalysts who know diddly squat about the rough-and-tumble of real business. That they do not take the unique exigencies of different types of organizations into consideration, and force a one-size-fits-all testing solution on everything from a hi-tech start-up company to a cheese-making factory.

I will concede that many of these concerns are true.

But personality tests still play an incredibly important role in the business world. And they benefit an organization as much as the applicant individually.

Here’s why:

THEY HELP MATCH PEOPLE TO PEOPLE

Even 30 years ago, traditional businesses operated like a strong room in a bank. Hierarchy ruled. Employees were put into different vaults, and there they stayed, safely and securely, doing only the tasks they were employed to do without question and without personal input.

Today, it is not like that. Companies function more openly and more inclusively, like a gene pool of diverse talents, and employees are encouraged to bring their big personalities into professional roles. Social media has loosened the stranglehold of `rules’ even further, and humanizing is important to make any business in the customer-service space seem warm, approachable, and interestingly different.

To achieve that sort of camaraderie with the customer base, companies have to work in camaraderie from within too. The various personalities of employees have to jive well together, so they can work cohesively and unanimously towards a common goal with minimum personality frictions.

This is where personality tests can be a valuable tool. Not just to match people to the job, but match people to people.

THEY HELP MATCH PEOPLE TO THEMSELVES

It is incredible, how little we really know ourselves. As cognizant human beings, most of us have a perception of ourselves that is so far off from who we really are. Too many factors play into the self-image we construct – such as what other people think about us, what career goals our parents had set for us, the fear of failing, the burden of guilt, shame and worthlessness we carry in our hearts…

None of these outside, circumstantial factors tell a true story of our authentic selves. But they still become our reality because we subconsciously believe them to be facts.

So we choose jobs and careers in which we won’t thrive or develop in any meaningful way. We join a company of `fishes’, figuratively speaking, and struggle to swim as well as our colleagues, when we are really a `bird’ and meant to be an incredible flyer. No amount of coaching or training will ever turn a flying bird into a great swimmer. It will only make its mark, and be truly happy, when it is spreading its wings and soaring high in the sky.

Being a misfit in our professional roles is often born out of a misguided opinion of who we are. And taking personality tests give us clues to the right careers for which our personality is a perfect fit.

I have taken scores of personality tests in my life. Each one has encouraged me to pause and take a harder look at myself. These tests have put a question mark on many of my long-held aspirations and goals. They have hinted at shortcomings and flaws I wasn’t willing to acknowledge even to myself.

They have also given me deep insights into my strengths. They have revealed positive sides of my personality that I did not know existed. All in all, they have helped me re-draw my self-image without factoring in extraneous stuff – like that one particular gentleman who had summarily declared that I will be “a total failure in life” when I was 27.

Yes, that hurtful opinion had dealt a body blow to my self-confidence as a professional and put me in a tailspin for a long, long time. I distrusted my capabilities and let this one man’s opinion become my own definition of myself. Personality tests were one of the self-help tools I used to get myself out of the funk, and looking back, I see how timely their contribution had been in shaping my career as a successful entrepreneur over the next ten years.

Personality tests can be expensive. But my advice to anyone is to take as many of them as they can.

A free personality test tool I suggest to most people who seek my advice is the Disc Personality Test. The first level of Disc test is free. After that, if you want you can purchase a group assessment if you want to share the test with the rest of your team.

Find the free Disc tests here.

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