Have you ever taken a personality test? I did, actually several tests. I recently spent a lunch hour taking online tests. It was an interesting and amusing rapid-fire exercise. But, did my exercise do anything more than massage my curiosity? Perhaps provide me with deeper revelations about myself in terms of career choices, such as a path better suited to my personality than the one I chose, journalism? More to the point of this short piece — is personality testing something that your company should embrace to make better personnel decisions? Keep reading.
I launched into my personality testing exercise after reviewing notes of a presentation by longtime industry consultant Kevin Kehoe at this past October’s LANDSCAPES 2017, part of the GIE+EXPO. At the Louisville event, Kehoe suggested that landscape companies require account manager job candidates to take a personality test prior to the interviewing process. The purpose of the test (he specifically recommended DISC) is to uncover valuable insights into a job prospect’s traits, especially tendencies likely to aide them in functioning as a successful account manager.
Even so, Kehoe said encouraging results on a personality test merely gets a candidate “through the first gate” of the hiring process. You don’t land a high-achieving account manager merely by getting favorable personality indicators, he added. The position can be extremely demanding given its many different responsibilities, almost all of which directly affect a company’s bottom line and financial health.
Personality testing — in spite of the ambivalence many of us view it — is a big deal in the corporate world. More than 80 companies in the Fortune 100 routinely use personality assessments to help make personnel decisions. Some landscape companies also rely on them (at least in part) to help fill vital management and sales positions. Or, alternately, as Kehoe put it, “put the right people in the right seats on the bus.”
In other words, thousands of companies view personality testing as a legitimate and helpful business tool.
The most well-known and most widely used product in this space is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, first developed in 1943 by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. It remains very popular to this day. The test breaks people down into 16 personality types, depending on their preferences for Sensing (S) or Intuition (N), Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I), Thinking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).
Fairly or otherwise, it is now lumped together with more than 2,000 other personality-testing products, almost all of the them accessible online. (Think of the many matchmaking and dating sites available online.)
For my personal personality quest, I did not choose to take the 93-question Myers-Briggs. There is a cost to it, and I didn’t think it worthwhile to pay $49.95 merely to satisfy my curiosity.
The first online test I took asked things like “I would rather be called practical than inventive,” and “I plan ahead so I have no problem meeting deadlines,” and so forth. The level on a sliding scale to which I agreed or disagreed with 48 of these statements determined my personality type. At the test’s end, I was informed I am INTP — Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving — which, as it turns out makes me (in terms of personality) kindred to Albert Einstein and Tina Fey, the test said.
Another online test, after completing a 10-minute questionnaire, informed me that I am “A Determined Realist.” In other words, I am practical, traditional, organized and “likely to be athletic.” Among the careers that fit my particular personality include the military, underwriter, police work and insurance agent. Renowned people with similar personality types include Andrew Jackson, Elliot Ness, John D. Rockefeller and Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart. Or so said the test.
The tests I took online (and there were others) were free. Yes, I realize and am fully aware that, in most cases, you get what you pay for.
However, do I, like industry consultant Kehoe, think personality testing can be beneficial — at least at a certain level — for employers when assessing individuals’ suitability for particular positions within their landscape and lawn care companies? Yes, I do.
That’s because the cost of personality tests from recognizable, well-established testing companies is modest, and anything that sheds light on an individual’s tendencies and traits can be helpful in directing individuals (pardon the cliché) to the right seats on your bus.