Personality Tests to Help You Pick the Right Career

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Your personality is one factor that is important to consider when you're exploring what careers may fit you best. Personality tests and career assessments evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, your values, your interests, and your skills. You might dismiss them as junk science. 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 in light of a recent career crisis.

When to Try a Personality Test

Personality tests can be useful in transitional moments of your career. Whether you are looking for your first job or you're interested in a career change, an assessment can be a good way to discern 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, they 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 Valid and Reliable?

A wide range of career assessment tests and personality tools are available online. There are a variety of free career assessments you can try, while others charge for all or some portion of the test.

When you take a career assessment or personality test, keep in mind that they may have little or no scientific or professional validity. However, they are quick and easy to take, and the answers you choose might give you insight into what jobs might be 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 and aptitude, inventory your skills, and assess your ability to succeed in a career. Here are some of the different types of assessment:

  • Career tests are used to indicate which jobs match your personality type and in which careers you have great potential to excel. You can take a quick quiz online and get an immediate result, or take more extensive and professional assessments to determine which careers might best suit you.
  • Intelligence tests are designed to measure your IQ. A person's intelligent quotient (IQ) is a measure of intelligence derived by combined results from several specially-designed tests. The quotient is determined by dividing an individual's mental age by her chronological age, then multiplying the result by 100.
  • Inventories are checklists that you use to identify factors you relate to, or don't. They measure how your interests correspond to those of people already employed in various positions. Career inventories like the Strong Interest Inventory provide a summary of your interest areas and occupations matching those interests.
  • Personality testsand other psychological tests measure your personal characteristics, your emotional makeup, and your stability. Career counselors often use them as a tool in the self-assessment part of the career planning process. Some of these tests are easily understood online, while others require a counselor to interpret them.
  • Behavioral tests are similar to personality tests, except that they focus a little more on your mental and emotional health. Rather than trying to point out weaknesses, these assessments aim to help you see where you are especially gifted emotionally, as demonstrated by your hypothetical responses to life's challenges.
  • Motivational tests are very similar to career tests and inventories. They aim to help you understand the type of work and problems that motivate you, in both formal and informal settings. These are useful tests to help job seekers develop greater self-awareness in their career search.

Self-Assessments Employers Use

The tests listed above are typically geared to individuals. However, the list below comprises common tests used by employers to measure personality compatibility and more.

You can usually find sites that will allow you to practice taking these tests before you are asked to do so by a potential employer. They are another way to help you figure out potential careers to consider.

Job skills tests (also known as proficiency tests) are online assessments employers use to verify that a candidate actually has the skills they claim on their resume to possess. A couple of the most common examples are TestDome and ExpertRating. Even job hunting sites like Indeed offer employers the opportunity to send skills tests to applicants.

Many employers use personality tests with new or current employees in order to gauge the cultural makeup and compatibility of their workforce. While it is not illegal to use personality tests to prescreen job candidates, creators of personality tests prefer that they not be used for screening candidates.

Talent assessments lie somewhere in between (or may form a combination of) skills tests and personality tests. While they do test one's emotional makeup, these screening tests focus on your character and soft skills. The goal behind talent assessments is employee retention. Employers want to pick the employees most likely to stick around.

Aptitude tests measure your ability to learn a skill or perform a particular type of work. These include pre-employment tests that hiring managers use to screen candidates. These tests are available online and are often free to use. Many specialized tests are designed to determine whether you have an aptitude for sales or firefighting, for example.