Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Robin Hood 2018: There is no ASS in Assessment... Oh Wait

Recently I mentioned that I took the Clifton Strengths Assessment at a PM conference. I really liked the assessment because a) it has a ton of data to back it up b) it's useful for a host of purposes and c) it's relentlessly positive. I used it to look at my future career goals and to overcome challenges in my current position.

Of course, this isn't the first assessment I've ever had as part of my career. I've done the DISC Assessment and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter as well. I've also done ones for more specific purposes (like measuring Intercultural Aptitude). The only one I've never done as part of a career activity is the Meyers-Briggs. This is good news as of all these squishy psychological tests, Meyers-Briggs is the most based in pure, unresearched BS (sorry Facebook!).

Why do I take them? Well, sometimes it's because I'm in a room full of colleagues and HR is there. But mostly it's because I've learned interesting things about, not just myself, but people in general from these assessments. And knowing about how people tick is useful not just for my job, but for life and magic in general.

But there's just one caveat. Most of these tests are based on your own self-assessment of your feelings or behavior or preference. Therefore they are hugely open to personal bias. If you really want to be seen as an aggressive go-getter, and therefore answer the questions that way, it's totally feasible that you can skew the results.

Which brings us to the use of personality assessment for hiring. A lot of companies are doing this now and I find it extremely problematic. But since no one's asking me...

If you are on the hunt for a job, it could be useful to review common types of personality assessments that might be used by the HR department of the place you are hiring at. Not that I recommend you cheat, mind you, but forewarned is forearmed. If you do decide to adjust your natural answers on one of these for the sake of getting hired (if you know the kind of person they are looking for) be warned that some of them have honesty metrics that can determine whether you are trying to fool the test... or even yourself.

And that's the rub, isn't it? Even if you take these tests just out of curiosity, they're only really interesting if you are as honest as possible on them. For example, my strengths assessment led me to examine certain career paths more closely, and to express that examination to my boss (and his boss). This is a career guiding move and I wouldn't want to base it on wishful thinking.

That said, it's also important not to take these things too seriously (especially ones that you find on Facebook or that try to squish everyone into a handful of dimensions. Understanding people -- including yourself -- is a useful exercise. But some combination of letters isn't all that you are. Don't let your assessment results limit you.



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