I’m still figuring out if knowing my strengths and personality type is useful or not. I think it is.
Myers-Briggs was helpful in highlighting my strengths and areas where I could excel or work on. It’s a personality test that will classify you as one of sixteen personality types developed by the psychologist Carl Jung.
I’m an ENTP apparently. I don’t think the descriptions are always completely accurate and they tend to vary. Having said that, I’ve found that many are broadly in line with who I am, or who I consider myself to be. I remember being pretty fascinated at the time and went through a phase of asking all my friends to take the test :).
I took Gallup’s Clifton Strengths test a while back too. That was useful in so far as it told me what my five top strengths were – focus, activator (taking action), positivity, wooing (connecting with others and winning them over), and futuristic (inspired by the future). You can find a summary of what that means here.
I guess knowing that the results of these tests reflected my own view of what I’m like has been useful in verifying that I’m not completely delusional in the way I see myself. But that could just be a consistency bias :).
I must say, knowing hasn’t been life changing. Although, that may be because of where I am in my life. It would have been far more useful 10-15 years ago, before making any career decisions!
It would be useful knowing the personality type and strengths and weaknesses of the people around me for sure. Friends, family, colleagues. Especially when you are getting to know people. Knowing how best to approach or interact with them, knowing how to deal with conflict etc. For example, if someone is really disorganised, maybe you would be more forgiving if you found out that disorganisation was an inherent personality trait or weakness and that they had lots of other strengths.
I think it’s also useful to avoid taking things personally e.g. if someone is quite sharp or direct, rather than take it personally, you can appreciate the way they communicate.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you make better decisions. For example, ENTPs traditionally get bored easily. Classifying myself in that way, I can (and have) avoided roles that don’t offer variety or challenge as I know that I wouldn’t enjoy that type of work. Apparently 80% of Fortune 500 companies and 89% of Fortune 100 companies use personality tests to place employees into roles and teams that complement each other.
In that way personality tests can be useful in assessing candidates for a role. You want someone who is suited for your organisation, the work on hand and the team they will be joining.
On the flip side, it’s also a dangerous way of making snap decisions about potential employees instead of getting to know them personally. Maybe you worked with an ENTP that drove you up the wall in a previous role and you want to do all you can to avoid working with one again!
Which makes me think, in relying on these personality tests, I wonder how accurate they are?!
There is no substitute for accurate knowledge. Know yourself, know your business, now your men”
– Lee Iacocca