Personality Tests to Help You Pick the Right Career

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Personality tests and career assessments evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, your values, your interests, and your skills. You might dismiss them as junk science, and some undoubtedly are. You might try them just for the fun of it. Or you might find that they can help you think through your choice of an occupation or work through a crisis in your career.

When to Try a Personality Test

Personality tests may be useful in transitional moments of your career. If you are looking for your first job or interested in a change in career path, a test can be a good way to assess which choices might be ideal for you.

If you already know what kind of work you want to do, a career or personality test can still be helpful. It can show you whether you need more training or experience. It can reveal what skills you have that make you a strong candidate for a specific job. At the very least, that can help you to write a more effective resume and cover letter.

None of these tests will provide you with a definitive answer on what you should do with your life. Rather, they can be a tool in your overall career planning, helping you to make a better-informed choice.

Are the Tests Reliable?

A wide variety of career assessment tests and personality tools is available online. Many are free, while others charge for all or some portion of the test.

When you take a free career assessment or personality test, keep in mind that they may have little or no real validity. However, they are quick and easy to take, and the answers you choose might actually give you insight into what jobs are a good match for you.

Tests to Help You Find the Right Job

The available tests range from the Ten Item Personality Index, a short, 10 question assessment that measures personality traits, to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, one of the most widely used tests for exploring career options.

There are tests that measure your intelligence or aptitude, inventory your skills, and assess your ability to succeed in a career.

  • Aptitude tests measure your ability to learn a skill or perform a particular type of work. These include tests employers typically use to screen candidates for employment. Self-assessment and aptitude tests are available online and are free in many cases. Many specialized tests are designed to determine whether you have an aptitude for sales or for firefighting, for example.
  • Career tests are used to indicate which jobs match your personality type and which careers you have an aptitude for. You can take a quick test online and get an immediate result or take more extensive and professional tests to determine which careers might interest you.
  • Intelligence tests are designed to measure your intellectual level. A person's intelligent quotient (IQ) is a measure of intelligence derived from the results of any of several specially designed tests. The quotient is determined by dividing an individual's mental age by his chronological age and multiplying the result by 100.
  • Inventories are checklists that you use to identify factors that you relate to, or don't. They measure how your interests match those of the people already employed in various occupations. Career inventories like the Strong Interest Inventory provide a summary of your interest areas and occupations that match those interests.
  • Personality tests and other psychological tests measure your personal characteristics, your emotional makeup, and your stability. They are often used by career counselors as a tool in the self-assessment part of the career planning process. Some of these tests can be interpreted online, while others need a counselor to interpret them.