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Personality Tests for a Career Path

by Autumn St. John, studioD

If you’re about to graduate or you’re considering a career change, you may be worried that you don't know what's the best career path for you. Among the tools that can help you identify fields suited to you is the personality test. Career personality tests operate on the premise that you can find out what personality traits you possess and then find professions that are a good fit for those characteristics.

Objective Tests

With an objective personality test, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Five Factor Model (FFM), you respond to a range of statements by rating the degree to which you agree with or relate to each item. The items can be scored objectively. You take the MBTI to find out which of the 16 character types it recognizes you conform to. If the test is specifically a career test, it will recommend to you suitable professions for your character type. The FFM recognizes five broad personality traits and can help identify the best path of career development for you.

Projective Tests

In the past, people rarely used projective psychological tests for the purpose of identifying career paths. Such tests are now becoming more popular with career counselors because they assess the narratives that career practitioners focus on when working with clients. The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) and the Rorschach inkblot test are both well-know examples of projective techniques. In the context of career advice, TAT helps a career adviser to elicit stories from you and interpret them, allowing him to determine suitable paths for you. As for the inkblot test, researchers at personality-assessment tool provider Woofound Inc. believe that your reaction to a series of inkblot images says a lot about your personality and therefore what careers would work for you.

Observational Measures

An occupational psychologist may take observational measures to assess what types of career suit your personality. The psychologist observes your actions, either live and in person or via videotape. He may also interview you. After taking these measures, he uses a coding system to convert his observations into numerical data and draws conclusions about you from this data. An example of a basic coding system is one where the observer simply counts the number of times you do something. Other, more sophisticated, systems might involve the observer creating different categories of behavior and assigning your behavior to one of them.

Peer Report Studies

You can assess your personality and then identify careers that are right for you by taking part in a peer report study, in which the test data takes the form of other people’s perceptions of you. In today’s digital age, this kind of testing will often involve you nominating someone who knows you well, such as a parent, to fill in an online questionnaire while thinking of you as the subject of the questions.

About the Author

Based in London, Autumn St. John has been writing career- and business-related articles since 2007. Her work has appeared in the "Guardian" and "Changing Careers" magazine. St. John holds a Master of Arts in Russian and East European literature and culture from University College London, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in modern history from the University of Oxford.

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