People use various methods to help them find direction for their career such as a strengths-based approach, values-based approach, etc. I previous wrote about focusing on your strengths when identifying your skills (you can read that article here) and doing so greatly helps if you are going to use a strengths-based approach. Another popular approach is to use psychometric assessments.
Psychometric assessments are frequently referred to as ‘personality tests’, but the use of the words ‘test’ or ‘tests’ conjure up associations with an examination of some kind. Even the word ‘assessments’ can conjure up such associations. But associations such as these are inaccurate and incorrect because there is no element of examination involved – they are not ‘tests’ as there are no right or wrong answers to the questions. The ‘correct’ answer to each question is the one you feel is right – the answer to provide is the one your “gut reaction” tells you. After all, the questions are asking you about your preferences and interests, so your answers are about you and how you are – there can be no right or wrong answer therefore.
So these instruments are more correctly called psychometric inventories or personality inventories – they compile the preferences, traits and interests that you report in your answers to the various questions. This leads us to another point – the output of these inventories is only as good as the input. In other words, you need to be completely honest in answering the questions. The instruments are ‘self-reporting’, which means that the final ‘assessment’ is based on the answers you provide. Any attempt to control, sway, skew or distort your answers may well affect the outcome and the final report – it could lead to you being given a false assessment of your preferences or interests. As only you and your career coach will see the final report, it doesn’t make sense to interfere with it by attempting to portray yourself as you would like to be or the way you would want others to see you. So truthful answers will lead to a final report that will be genuinely useful in assisting you in finding your career direction.
One of the better known and most popular personality inventories is the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI for short. The MBTI is the most robust and most researched of all the personality inventories with more than three and a half million reports completed per year. The research confirms its validity and reliability. The MBTI determines your personality type based on four sets of preferences: where you prefer to focus your attention and get energised – whether you are introverted or extraverted – I or E; the way you take in or perceive information and the kind of information you trust – sensing or intuition – S or N; the way you prefer to make decisions – thinking or feeling – T or F; and how you prefer to deal with the outer world around you – judging or perceiving – J or P. These provide a four letter reference to one of sixteen personality types – e.g. ISTJ or ENFP.
That may sound a little complicated, but your career coach will explain your report to you in a simple manner!
So what are the benefits of using a psychometric inventory such as the MBTI? Firstly, it provides greater understanding of yourself and others. In relation to your career and career direction finding in particular, it helps you to see how your personality type affects your career – is your personality type in keeping with the work you do? If not, you are likely to feel stressed and unhappy in work. It explains how your MBTI preferences affect what you like about a given career, and identifies the tasks and jobs that give you satisfaction. It also explores your preferred work tasks and work environments. Most importantly, it suggests careers that people with your personality type find fulfilling and rewarding, and that they are successful at.
Another popular and useful instrument is the Strong Interest Inventory which explores your interests and what you like to do. The completed report links your interests to possible careers, generates a list of careers suitable to your interests, and indicates what you need to consider when evaluating career options. Because it connects possible careers to your interests, the careers it suggests are sure to be satisfying and fulfilling for you.