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
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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if someone is such a personality type will depend if you experience the full on, jump in, thrill seeking ISTP or the withdrawn, apparently disinterested ISTP, ie on which ISTP you get.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.

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. 

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.

Personality and Careers - separating the job and the environment

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 11/15/2013 - 14:47 by Bill McAneny

Colour PencilsMuch of the literature and many of the sites about Jungian type outline specific job roles for particular types. My (ENTP) list included Computer Programmer, Lawyer, Actor, Engineer and Entrepreneur. The problem I have with this is that I don’t think it is possible to pigeonhole someone into a specific job according to their personalities as this ignores the organisation, the values and the culture, which are far better determinants of suitability than a job title (which in themselves can be ambiguous). Even individual jobs, (say) an accountant, are not universal and differs from industry to industry, organisation to organisation and person to person. So what can we learn about personality and career choice?

What is Miley Cyrus like?

Prelude Team's picture
Published on Thu, 11/07/2013 - 10:43 by Prelude Team

Miley CyrusMiley Cyrus has been getting a lot of press lately for her radical style, particularly in her music videos and for her performance at this year’s VMA awards.  But we thought we’d have a look at her personality and see how it fits with what she’s projecting in her performances. In a recent interview she describes the experiences of some of her latest work:

Being passionate about something means not really stopping for anything

I’ve never really had to sacrifice for my career before and I’ve had to a bit with this record

Thinking vs Feeling is NOT hard vs soft!

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Thu, 10/31/2013 - 14:46 by Bill McAneny

Scales of JusticeThe Thinking vs Feeling scale is about how we make decisions: Thinking types tend to make their decisions based on logic, evidence and rational argument while Feeling types tend to make their decisions based on emotion, impact on people and subjective argument. I once knew an HR Director (and ENFP) who used to fake the assessment so he recorded ENTP as he felt that it could work against him to be known as a Feeling type. Yet he so was a Feeling type and this is what made him so good at his job. Even Jung, who coined the terms struggled: “…I freely admit that this problem of feeling has been one that has caused me much brain racking.”

Personality traits aren’t good or bad - they just 'are'

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Thu, 10/24/2013 - 15:05 by Bill McAneny

Russian nested dolls

Sometimes when we assess people and provide feedback on the results of some personality assessments we get asked: ‘is that good or bad?’ And of course the answer is ‘neither,’ (or perhaps ‘both!’) Sure we can all modify our behaviour but our basic personality traits are what come most naturally to us and that is where we’ll be happiest and be at our best. We had a colleague who, when we explained our unhappiness that she was late, said: “I am an ENFP, you have to expect me to be late.” Well…no! We can expect spontaneity, we can expect a fresh and enthusiastic perspective, we can even expect a lively approach with a difficulty in sitting still; but she did not have to be late, it is not preordained. This does, however, demonstrate that there are both upsides and downsides to personality traits and we all have to learn to project our upsides and manage our downsides.

So it’s OK to be ourselves, indeed it’s when we’re at our best. We know that trying to be like someone else does not work. Being proud of who we are, and helping other people ‘get us,’ and all of our foibles and idiosyncrasies that make us who we are is so helpful, to us and to them. Be loud and proud, be quiet and humble, be ultra creative, be systematic and detailed. But whatever you are, be yourself.

Do you read like an Extravert or an Introvert?

Prelude Team's picture
Published on Wed, 10/16/2013 - 12:05 by Prelude Team

Jung was clear in his definition of Extraversion and Introversion that it is about is from where we draw our energy. Extraverts are attuned to their external environment and draw their energy from what’s going on around them, people, situations and indeed need that ‘feed.’ Introverts are more attuned to their internal environment and will draw their energy from within. This means that for Extraverts their neural processing will take place outside their heads, speaking out their thoughts while the neural processing for Introverts will occur inside their heads and emerge fully formed when they are ready to speak.

A typical Sunday morning situation and we think you’ll be able to spot which is the Extravert and which is the Introvert.

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