Can Your Personality Get You Hired or Fired?

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Personality tests have been around for more than a century, but employers are using them now more than ever when hiring. The main reason: to select the best possible candidates and reduce turnover, which costs a company between a quarter- to one-and-a-half times the departing worker's salary.

Even though the word "test" implies pass or fail, there's no such thing in personality assessments. There's no right or wrong, no numerical score. Instead, these tools assess our "soft" skills -- personality types, strengths, styles and preferences.

More than 2,500 types of personality tests are used today, and they generally fall into two distinct categories for employment purposes: those used for selecting and hiring new workers and those used for developing and advancing existing staffers.

Last week I took two of these tests: the California Psychological Inventory, which is popular in hiring because it helps predict how an employee might interact with other people, and the Myers-Briggs, which is the gold standard for assessing preferences and styles useful for worker development.

A confession: I was incredibly nervous before starting the online assessments. I was fearful of the unknown. What if the tests revealed weaknesses I wasn't aware of? My mind wandered every which way.

But as I dived into the 350-plus questions between the two assessments, all of that fear dissipated. I very quickly realized it's all based on my opinions, with no right or wrong.

CPP.com, a leading publisher and administer of many of these tests, gave permission to share some of the questions I had to answer on each of the two tests I took. These are no by means mini tests but rather an illustrative sample of items that appear in each test.

From Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Instrument, by Katherine C. Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers:

Are you inclined to:

A) value sentiment more than logic, or

B) value logic more than sentiment?

Do you prefer to:

A) arrange dates, parties, etc, well in advance, or

B) be free to do whatever looks like fun when the time comes?

Would you rather work under a boss who is:

A) good-natured but often inconsistent, or

B) sharp-tongued but always logical?

At parties do you:

A) do much of the talking, or

B) let others do most of the talking?

When you start a big project that is due in one week, do you:

A) take time to list the separate things to be done and the order of doing them, or

B) plunge right in?

Which one word in each of the following pairs appeals to you more?

A) sensible

B) fascinating

A) imaginative

B) realistic

A) devoted

B) determined

From CPI 260 Assessment, by Harrison G. Gough, Ph.D.:

Answer TRUE or FALSE as to how you feel each statement applies to you.

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