Personality Blog

Does psychometric testing ‘work’?

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Thu, 01/30/2014 - 14:19 by Bill McAneny

Multiple choiceOn the BBC Jeremy Vine Show yesterday he posed the question: “psychometric tests are they good or worthless?” Then several people were paraded, each with their own experience of how brilliant they are and others who had bad experiences of applying for a job only to have ‘failed’ the test. We know for a Radio Show it is good to polarise ‘good vs worthless’ but in reality this probably needs a little unpicking.

Firstly there are so many psychometric assessments around and some are true ‘tests,’ ie ‘pass or fail,’ such as Numerical Reasoning or Verbal Reasoning, and some are ‘assessments,’ ie to be used as a jumping off point for discussion, such as personality or behavioural assessments. The first issue to determine is ‘why do we need to use an assessment?’ In the 1990s assessment became ‘the norm’ (if you pardon the pun) but often with no valid rationale behind it. So many organisations used ‘Intelligence Testing” without defining ‘intelligence’ or establishing why that was an important attribute for the role. So why are you assessing, what is it you’re trying to establish and why? For example reaction tests for train drivers are important in determining how quickly they can see changes in their environment.

So how do you use them? The majority of assessments are based around personality and behaviour and these are really useful jumping off points for discussion. We would never recommend making any decisions about individuals based on an assessment result, but they are great to use at interview, or in discussions about promotion, career change etc as an opener. For example we recently assessed an individual and we said: 

you are not detailed, you are expedient and often disregard rules, regulations and like to go your own way.

ISTP - full on or full off - nothing in between

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 01/24/2014 - 14:48 by Bill McAneny

Dusty Roostertails

It’s difficult to quantify personalities and this is especially so with the contradiction that is the ISTP. They tend to not do half measures and so trying to assess if someone is such a personality type will depend if you experience the full on, jump in, thrill seeking ISTP or the withdrawn, apparently disinterested ISTP, ie on which ISTP you get.

The STP desire to store knowledge and apply it practically right here right now is compounded by Introversion: so while the ESTP will live a life full of jumping from one exciting adventure after another, the ISTP will be more likely to jump into the adventure, butt out completely and utterly, then, like Clark Kent putting his suit on, throw himself into the action.

This anomaly also manifests itself in the level of detail that the ISTP becomes immersed in.

The power of difference: Sylvester Stallone vs. Robert De Niro

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 01/17/2014 - 09:49 by Bill McAneny

With actors it’s often difficult to get know the real person behind the characters they play. However the endless promotion of the new film ‘The Grudge’ has given us the chance to really get to know Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro as people. Watching them together actually helps as we can see that Sly clearly takes the lead whereas Bob is happy to sit back and let him. Sly uses the interview as an opportunity to entertain and engage, Bob looks as if he’d rather be at home, but is polite, serious and factual. In this clip Bob only really answers a question because Charlie Stayt pushes it and of course he answers politely and factually and when he is finished Sly says straight to camera: “Did you miss me?”

Life is a people game, and a contact sport

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 01/10/2014 - 16:48 by Bill McAneny

Water DropIn business, as in life, success often depends about the quality of the interactions we have. Understanding ourselves is a great first step but ultimately it is about understanding ourselves in relation to other people and of course getting to better understand them. Our behaviour has an impact and that impact has a consequence: the impact is how we leave people feeling and the consequence is what occurs as a result of that impact. I once asked an SVP of a large energy company how his people saw him (I had already asked): “A livewire, a bit of a joker who loves the joust, they love me,” he said. Nope. So I told him: “They say you’re a sarcastic, self-indulgent bully who makes a joke of everything.” So we can see our SVP was aware of his behaviour but he viewed it from the standpoint of himself, rather than those on the receiving end. 

Making your New Year a SMART one: Some tips to make your New Years' resolutions stick

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Published on Sun, 01/05/2014 - 10:31 by Guest Blogger

Two champagne glassesWe've all been there. Big Ben bongs, Champagne glasses clink and as the final strands of Auld Lang Syne disappear into the horizon your thoughts turn to the New Year. This year.

This year I'm going to...

My New Year's Resolution is to...

As T.S. Eliot said: “To make an end is to make a beginning.” It's a blank canvas: a fresh start. As of 00:00 on 1st January 2014 you can be or do anything you want to, (which may or may not be precipitated by the aforementioned Champagne!)

But all too often we find ourselves making grand declarations: “I'm going to go for a run five times a week,” without the ability to follow it through. So how do you make a decent resolution and actually stick to it? That's where SMART comes in:


Make your resolution/s specific – focus on what it is you would actually like to achieve. Want to see more of your friends in 2014? Your goal could be to put a date in the calendar each month to see a certain friend.

Hulk and Bruce Banner

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 12/20/2013 - 13:20 by Bill McAneny

Yin + Yang

The Hulk vs Bruce Banner relationship was originally conceived for Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as a mixture of previous ‘horror-but-moral’ tales such as Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, exploring the two sides of the same coin, paradoxically polarising them as well as blending them.

The Bruce Banner character is a quiet, thoughtful scientist, a little bit awkward and introverted who accidentally creates his alter ego ‘The Hulk,’ an angry ball of extraverted rage. Banner is a serious guy and indeed in order to escape his predicament and to ensure ‘The Hulk’ is contained at one point he disappears, working as a doctor in the slums of Calcutta. But ‘The Hulk’ is only temporarily buried within Banner; he has not been eradicated, because he is part of him.

Sensing vs Intuitive: bottom up or top down

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 13:49 by Bill McAneny

Viewing a painting from different perspectivesI had a group of Directors from a Global Energy Company together teaching them psychology. They really ‘got’ Jungian type but struggled with Sensing vs Intuitive. So I got them into two groups and asked each group to agree what the film ‘American Beauty’ was about. The Intuitive types said it was:

A film about shining a torch in the underbelly of American life searching for hope and seeing ugly and beauty, good and bad, in what is there.

The Sensing types came up with:

Pretentious crap about temptation: some guy having a mid-life crisis, trying to hit on a schoolgirl and in the end getting his just deserts.

An Extraverted or Introverted Christmas?

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 12/06/2013 - 14:38 by Bill McAneny

Christmas CrackersIt’s funny when you look around the room on Christmas Day and you see some people initiating games, singing in the new Karaoke machine and generally making merry. They will have their new brightly coloured jumpers on, and telling everyone about each present they got. Around the periphery there’s a group who are reading, taking it all in and quietly looking at their presents, content with their own thoughts and company. To the Extravert it seems the Introverts just need to come out of their shells, and to the Introverts it seems the Extraverts just have to speak out every waking thought. So the Extraverts feel sorry for the Introverts, as they believe you can’t really be having fun if you’re quiet. And the Introverts feel sorry for the Extraverts, as it is so sad not to be able to sit quietly and enjoy one thing without jumping around. So this Christmas strike a balance: Extraverts just need to tell the world, they need to speak out their innermost thoughts and they are happiest then they do so. Introverts really do prefer some peace and quiet and they are happiest when they can be quiet and focus on one thing. So live and let live and have a Happy Christmas Extraverted or Introverted. 

What motivates people?

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Thu, 11/28/2013 - 09:20 by Bill McAneny

Green light goI often get asked the question “what motivates people?” And of course the honest answer is “it depends who we’re talking about.” We all have different drivers and motivations and so it’s best not to try to find a silver bullet ‘universal’ motivator and instead get to know the individual, their drivers, aspirations, dreams, and their realities. Now this may sound a little ‘nice’ but of course it isn’t. Getting this right means happier and more productive staff who want to be there because the environment fits with them. The question of ‘fit’ is usually measured by the ‘harder’ metrics such as ‘experience,’ ‘expertise,’ ‘knowledge,’ etc and these are certainly the areas cited when it “doesn’t work out.” Yet we know that in reality it is about the interaction between personality type and environment.

We are currently adding to our ‘careers’ section on the personality profiles to help you think more deeply about the ‘best fit’ kinds of roles and organisations for you. We hope you find it helpful.


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