Part 6a: Career Personality Tests use Subjective Assessments
All true career personality tests use subjective measures to assess the relevant factors. But when choosing such a test, it’s important to keep these things in mind.
Career Personality Test Limitations
Of course, there is no perfect career personality test. But there are an awful lot of great ones, and taking a few can give you the best idea of what career fits you. When taking a career personality test, keep these limitations in mind so that you can get the most accurate results.
First of all, for a career tests to be based on subjective measurements means that results are based on what you “think” or deem to be the correct answer. Your response could be a guess, but it should be more like a “gut” response. In other words, the answer to a question on the test should result from your first impression to it. You’ll probably get the best result if you just allow your automatic gut reaction to take control.
Secondly, career personality tests provide word-based options from which to select your answer. In other words, the subjective test is based solely on words or language. This means the confines of our language will shape your results. It’s best to think of the answer you choose according to its common meaning in order to get the most accurate results.
Another way to understand the impact of language in subjective measurements is to consider the following example. If I say the word “black,” what pops up in your head immediately? This may seem like a simple question to you. Well, over the past 15 years, I have received 39 different responses to this word including Halloween, blue collar worker, night, and white. The most common answer is white. Therefore, if a career personality test includes a question about “black” as part of their career test, the answer “white” would be one of the multiple choices answers. If you don’t think of “black” in terms of “white” you might have either a difficult time selecting from the answer options or you might attribute a different understanding to the word altogether. As you can see, your personal understanding of a word is, therefore, critical to producing accurate results on any career personality test.
Thirdly, career tests are impacted by the opportunities you have had to know yourself. For instance, if you are a young adult who grew up in a household where your parents determined your activities, you watched a lot of TV, held no prior jobs, and engaged in no volunteer activities, you likely will not have had enough opportunities to know your personal responses to various situation. You probably don’t know your interests in a variety of categories that would determine accurate test results. This makes it very difficult to know how to respond to a question. An inaccurate answer could yield inaccurate results. While this is an extreme example, it is relevant for our society today. Many young adults have their lives so programmed by their parents, lack of self-knowledge is one of the unintended consequences of their good intentions.
There are more subtle examples of the lack of opportunities to know oneself. Most, if not all, career test takers are “stumped” by at least a couple of questions. Rather than react to it as they should, these test takers then ponder the question for to long, which can lead to inaccuracies. Bottom-line, the greater your personal self-knowledge,
the better and more accurate your career personality test results.
Fourthly, tests can be manipulated. In other words, you might be taking a career personality test as part of work team and know that the result of your career test will be shared with the group. In this situation it might be tempting to answer according to what you want your coworkers to think of you. You have thereby skewed the results of your career tests and the career test results are not accurate.
Finally, the factor of chance plays a role in every career test. For instance, if you take a career personality test on a “bad hair day,” subsequently you will likely receive “bad hair day” results. The way you feel one day might change the results slightly compared to another day.
But don’t worry! Even though these limitations are part of every test, this does not mean your results will be dangerously inaccurate. The most well-researched tests have these limitations factored into the results.
Another Thing to Remember
Which career personality tests are the most susceptible to these limitations? The Myers Briggs is probably the most susceptible, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a useful, reliable, or valid tool. Because it is! The publishers have recognized its susceptibilities and published a “test the test” process that I’ve been using with clients for years.
If ever you have taken a career personality test and questioned the accuracy of your results, please contact me or another career test expert to review the results with you. I can help you determine the inaccuracy and come up with an alternative solution to taking the test again. Or, you can simply retake the test at www.testets.com. Always remember, after taking a career test, get a career test consultation. This helps you understand your results, applications in real-life working situations, and brief descriptions and examples of your occupational matches. I can walk through your results with you and start on a plan to grab your career by the horns.
Still Have Questions…?
Given all of these limitations . . . Why would you want to take a career personality test at all? Starting to second guess your old Myers Briggs results? Wondering which career personality tests produce the most accurate results? These questions, the limitations, and reasons to take a test anyway, will be presented in the next blog (part 6b). Stay tuned.