Which Psychometric test is best for Career Development?
June 25, 2008 3:33 AM   Subscribe

I am interested in taking psychometric assessments - specifically for use in Career Development. I would like to hear about experiences with specific psychometric instruments for this purpose. Which test is best?

Googling has led to an overwhelming array of choices and I would like the beneift of others' experience before spening time/cash. I am talking about assessments of Personality Types, Talents, Aptitudes, Interests and whatever else these things measure. What was good/accurate/helpful/impressive/beneficial/a revelation?

Or if you have worked in Human Resources what instruments have you found to be most useful/powerful/effective in accurately measuring a person's fit for a role?

In Summary:

What test(s) were best and why?
What specific insights did they give?
What reports did you feel were the most useful to you professionally and even personally?

Oh and it would preferrable be an online assessment, but I am open to alternatives. Assuming you get what you pay for the free ones are less valuable but I would be interested in them too as I intend to take a number of assessment compare results and see how things add up!
posted by therubettes to Work & Money (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It costs quite a lot of money to design a test which has much in the way of predictive power - and so I think you will find many of the best tests are not free. However it is worth checking to see if you can do a free profile test courtesy of your HR department (if you are working) your careers department (if you are in education) or a local government education site for your country/state, etc. For example, here in Scotland, we have this site which can give you a free profile - if you either live here or can convince them you do.
posted by rongorongo at 4:02 AM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks rongorongo, some background information: I am working in I.T at the moment.

However, I dont want to derail my own question with a discussion of my particular situation. I want to keep the focus on peoples experiences of specific psychometric assessments.
posted by therubettes at 4:32 AM on June 25, 2008

The shortest and most entertaining test is the Lipson-Shiu Corporate Type Test.

I always score as an SCIE (Stupid-Chaotic-Important-Evil) which is kind of bad while still probably accurate.
posted by uandt at 4:34 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Do you mean the kind of tests that assess your personality type and working style? Or were you also counting the kind of tests that assess numerical ability etc.? The latter kind are quite often called "psychometric tests" too.
posted by theyexpectresults at 4:49 AM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: Do you mean the kind of tests that assess your personality type and working style?
Yes - its more the personality/working style I am interested in.

I know I mentioned aptitude tests in the question, I probably should not have. I reckon that just because I have an aptitude in a particular area it does not necessairly mean I will enjoy/succeed at it.
posted by therubettes at 4:57 AM on June 25, 2008

My experience with these types of tests is that, since I don't have any cut-and-dried preferences of my own (I like social situations sometimes, but I like working alone other times), they've not been able to give me any real guidance. I think my completely-context-dependent preference thing is maybe a little extreme, though, so these might work better for others. I mention it, though, so you can assess your own likelihood of success.
posted by amtho at 5:20 AM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: I study tests, I don't work in HR, but I can speak to a couple of the biggies.

1. Myers-Briggs : you can buy the book to take and score the test. It classifies you along four dimensions of personality. It's not specifically focused on work personality, just general personality. I liked it because the questions ask about real activities (e.g., "when the phone rings, do you rush to be the first to answer it?") The results helped me think about my usual style and I found that it sounded much more like me than any of the other descriptions (so it's not just a Barnum Effect).

2. Keirsey temperament sorter : a friend of mine loves this. Again, you can buy the book for test and scores. He tells me it is based somewhat on Myers-Briggs, but tells you more about how you work in terms of how you like to be managed (or how you might manage others). He finds it very enlightening, and likes to give it to friends and coworkers.

3: Holland's types: I don't have time right now to be thorough, but in the research world, Holland's vocational interests/personality theory is widely used and I think it is also popular in the business world. I don't find it too helpful in terms of exploring my interests BUT I have only taken the research version, I've never used one of the for-pay sites that would help interpret your results more thoroughly. I find the Myers-Briggs more intuitively interesting and though-provoking.
posted by parkerjackson at 5:34 AM on June 25, 2008 [3 favorites]

Caveat: I tried that Lipson-Shiu Corporate Type Test that uandt linked, and I'm very impressed. For such a short test, with such strange questions, it got me well. (ICUG).
posted by Goofyy at 7:55 AM on June 25, 2008

It sounds like you are also looking for a bit of a personality assessment instead of a straight-ahead occupational assessment. You may want to try the Jackson Vocational Interest Survey, which has 34 different interest scales, including 8 different work "styles". Here is a sample report (https link, may not work, search the site if it doesn't). Very statistically oriented, with percentiles and correlations with people in 32 different career fields. It even gives you validity scales so that you can see how consistent your own responses were.

I do these type of assessments occasionally, and the Jackson and the Strong Interest Inventory are the only ones that have impressed me in terms of being both theoretically well-reasoned and useful in real situations. The Meyers Briggs Type Indicator and Keirsey are interesting if you hang out at Mensa gatherings and talk about your profile--they're astrology for people who think they're smart (/bitterness). Holland's stuff is a little more sound, in regards to research, but I've always thought the results it gives could be better arranged, explained, and interpreted. The Jackson has a General Occupation Themes section that is similar to Holland's stuff.
posted by Benjy at 9:01 AM on June 25, 2008

Fudge it, the https link didn't work. The sample report is under View Report -> View Sample Report if you have use the tabs at the top.
posted by Benjy at 9:03 AM on June 25, 2008

Best answer: The most useful part of any type of assessment is the dialogue around the interpretation of the results (IMHO). Myers-Briggs and other personality-type instruments are best NOT used for diagnosis...they are best used for dialogue. Human beings are much too complex and have too many variables in their lives/histories to be summed up by a self-report, pencil-and-paper test.

I prefer to start with the following assessments before a conversation about personality/working style (as well as work environment motivation):

- Edgar Schein's assessment for Career Anchors
- Myers-Briggs Step II, which includes the extensive subscales or facets
- Thomas Kilman Conflict Mode Indicator (<> - The Self-Directed Search by John Holland

None of these are predictive in a statistically valid way. These types of assessments help to uncover preferences and motivation which get examined during the interpretation conversation. Someone might test high on a preference during the Myers-Briggs, but it doesn't mean that they can't or won't act in a different way. It's like right handedness or left handedness. You can be right handed, but if you HAD to use your left hand, you would do it if motivated enough. It may be uncomfortable or not feel natural, but it wouldn't be impossible.

So, why take these assessments at all?

At their best, they can be helpful in examining why someone is more comfortable at certain tasks or in certain work environments or in working with certain people. It can help to explain why someone feels uncomfortable in certain situations and how to address the discomfort (versus avoiding it or acting out). It helps to create a common language to discuss differences in style or communication.

At their worst, they claim to predict future behavior, to define your personality, or to be able to pick the perfect job for you. (On that last one, there are so many facets to job fit: tasks, environment, leadership, etc. that no one test can define the perfect job for you.)
posted by jeanmari at 10:16 AM on June 25, 2008

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