I think it’s useful to use as many different diagnostic tools as you think appropriate to help you get a perspective on which direction your career could take.
This would ideally be made up of subjective self-assessment exercises as well as more objective tools like personality tests. I also value the thoughts of others either informally through colleagues and role models and more formally from mentors and coach counsellors.
It’s not a good idea to rely on any one form or tool and you definitely need to test the waters and get out there and act on the new idea so you are confident about making the commitment.
It makes sense to use standardized questionnaires to see how your personality type could match a particular career. I was interested to read the thoughts of the author Roman Krznaric in “How to Find Fulfilling Work” where he cautions users to not rely on personality tests, suggesting that there is evidence that people rely too much on tests raising expectations that are rarely met.
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the best known and most popular psychometric tests with over 2 million administered annually. Myers Briggs places the user into one of 16 personality
I’ve been able to take three MBTI tests in previous employment as part of management courses over that last 20 years and was fairly consistent over this time.
But Krznaric points to the criticism leveled at the MBTI including the ‘test-retest reliability’, which is basically that if you take the test again within a short period there is a high chance that you will fall into a different personality category compared to the first time you did it.
Of most importance is the critique about what I see as the main point of doing these tests from a career perspective, that is that it can guide you towards the kinds of work you could enjoy and be successful in. It is also worth noting that according to US psychologist David Pittenger there is “no evidence to show positive relation between MBTI type and the success within an occupation. Nor is there any data to suggest that specific types are more satisfied within specific occupations than any other types”.
He puts the popularity of MBTI down to “the beguiling nature of the horoscope like summaries of personality and steady marketing”.
So when using personality tests note they can help us if we are struggling in finding our strengths, though it is a valid and important point that we should not hand over responsibility on an important decision to someone or something else, such as an objective personality tool. At the same time these tests can offer us some insights, particularly when we are confused about roles that we may not have otherwise considered.
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