Are Personality Tests Valuable? By Christina Stewart

We think so.  But there is a catch… The Results Must Always Be Used For Good!  Let me explain…

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Personality tests, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI for those in the biz,) can give folks a super strong sense of who they are and why they behave the way they do. They can also give employers a strong sense of who the employee is, where they may naturally be adept and show the ways that someone may contribute to the team. The problem lies in taking the results at face value, and using those results as a basis for either hiring or not, because there is always more under the surface.  

A great example is with the MBTI.  I am an ISTJ – and I am an ISTJ – I like structure and order and I’m also incredibly reliable.  The risk comes in when, let’s say, an employer may be interested in hiring me to facilitate training. They may see the ISTJ, and assume that I’m too introverted to speak up and move on to another candidate who shows a stronger preference for extroversion.  But what you don’t know about me by only seeing the “I” or the Introvert in ISTJ, is that I actually love public speaking. I adore standing up in front of a group of people and sharing knowledge and having great conversations.  ISTJs can actually be extremely adept at delivering training sessions because they are always incredibly prepared and they’re also information junkies – both attributes would be positive assets to an employer’s training department.

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The lesson here is to use personality assessments to prove what you already and know about someone “Look there is an ISTJ – I knew she seemed like he would be reliable,” and to use it as a way to allow a person a vaster contribution once you do hire someone.  They can provide tremendous value for self-discovery, team building, coaching, enhancing communication, and numerous other developmental applications. But due to limited predictive validity (does this test show how an employer will perform in the future?), low test-retest reliability (will this person answer the test exactly the same each and every time?), lack of norming (can this test be held up against another person’s and show the truth?) and an internal consistency (lie detector) measure, etc., they are not ideal for use in hiring.

Employers with a role to fill who only look at a certain type of person take a big risk in missing out on someone who would be outstanding in a particular role.  Personality Tests can be very valuable when used for good – to build people up, but not to exclude potential employees from their workforce.  They may just miss out on a shining star.

Hooray for November 1st by Drew Stewart

This November 1st has given me three things to be happy about. First, it provided me an extra hour of sleep. Secondly, it signifies the start of Movember. Not only is Movember an opportunity to raise awareness for prostate cancer but it also gives me a legitimate reason to abandon grooming my upper lip. The eventual disappointment that will come at the end of the month when I look decidedly un-Tom Selleck-like is too far off into the distance to dampen my spirits. Last and most importantly, I am happy on this November 1st that we are as far away from Halloween as we can possibly be.  In three words: I hate Halloween.  I understand the appeal of Halloween to some and definitely do not begrudge anyone who thoroughly enjoys it; it’s just not for me.  If not for having three young kids, it would be largely ignored in my house and only remembered fondly when I reaped the reward of 50% off of unsold chocolate bars at the grocery store.

For as long as I remember, I have had strong introverted preferences. I stopped going out trick or treating when I was around eight years old because I couldn’t be bothered with being forced into interacting with so many people in order to get candy. I simply chose to do without the candy rather than subject myself to the forced interaction with strangers.  I also banked at bit on there being a bunch leftover from what my parents gave out.  With my own three kids, I know I must mentally rehearse what small talk I am going to use when I take the kids to the door when I inevitably engage with the candy giver. I also spend a great deal of time thinking of ways I can mix it up so I don’t become repetitive. On most days I have to prepare myself to summon the energy to interact with the occasional stranger as I go about my daily business, on this day I have to interact with a multitude and on top of it, I need to mix in chit chat about how great I think their costume looks!  Seems small but it is enough to push this introvert over the edge into avoiding people all together. 

Halloween and my reluctance to dive head first into it is not going away. I have a few more years of shepherding kids around door to door. Their smiles and excitement are enough to keep me going. But I will always be happiest come November 1st when it is over for another year. Thanks to a leap year it is 366 days away ‘til I have to do it again. For now I will spend the next 30 days trying to be Magnum P.I.       

Misconceptions in Communicating with Introverts

Working within a team can be a fun and rewarding experience. There is something exciting about coming together as a group and delivering the highest performance possible, while utilizing the skills of everyone involved. With that being said, I have been fortunate enough to work together with a variety of fabulous people and on great teams. However, there have also been teams where it was a constant struggle. I would fantasize about days being ripped off a calendar counting down towards the deadline so we could go just all go our separate ways.  Invariably, at the root of the issues of these dreary and underperforming teams is the ineffective way that we communicated with one another. 

When there is a lack of communication on a team, we tend to fall back on assumptions or completely rely on our own instincts when making decisions. These judgements completely dismiss the advantages of teamwork altogether.  Teams are generally made up of a variety of individuals who bring with them varied experiences, personalities and ideas. Getting input and leveraging all that knowledge would seem to be of great value, keeping in mind the old saying of ‘’Two heads are better than one.’’   Assumptions and misconceptions, in place of simple communication, can be especially dangerous when it comes to decision making. 

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) theorizes, in part, that people have preferences in behavior with how they like to operate within their ‘’Favorite World.’’  Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Introversion and Extraversion. These are fairly common words that I believe most people have the understanding on what they generally mean. But how do they help in communicating with one another? And what assumptions do we have about Introverts or Extraverts that get in the way of harmonious team?

Introverts typically like to live in a world where they can think things through thoroughly before making their thoughts public. They tend to be more introspective and do all the refining of their ideas internally. When the idea is presented to the group, it is usually very polished and close to what they feel is a final version.  Where a negative assumption comes into play is the misconception that Introverted personalities are too quiet and not offering anything up in a team meeting or brainstorming session. In reality, they have great ideas but they just have not had the chance to be refined. They are not generally comfortable in throwing those ideas out as an Extravert is. Ever been part of a brainstorming session and wonder why a handful of people are very quiet and don’t seem to be offering anything up? Chances are, they are an Introvert. Again, the misconception is that they have no ideas and sometimes leads one to think they are not valuable and maybe are not simply smart enough to contribute.  In our human nature when we feel someone isn’t contributing, we tend to cut them out of any future thought processes or team decisions because clearly they are not invested in what we are doing. This is not reality.  What would work best would be recognizing someone who might be more introverted and allowing them the time to go back from a meeting and give their thoughts after they have had time to think about it.  Brain storming sessions are a great way to get everyone involved but keep them open ended and allow people to still input after the meeting is over.