Taking some of the Mystery out of Personality Profiles!

During a recent Interview Skills Coaching session a key question regarding personality profiles came into my mind with full force, “What it it about a simple personality profile that can undermine a candidates confidence and create so much uncertainty in their minds?”

I was coaching a client to help him prepare for an up-coming interview. He was doing great until he discovered that one element of the selection process would involve a personality profile. No matter how reassuring I was or how much I emphasised that it was really just a matter of answering honestly, I found it extremely difficult to get him to shift his focus from worrying about the personality profile and to concentrate on preparing for the interview.

It occurred to me that for a lot of people these tools are unfamiliar and they have no idea what they are attempting to measure. As a result they are fearful that a side to their character will be revealed that they would rather not disclose or, worse still, that they will not be offered the job on the strength of the personality profile alone.

As someone who is fully qualified in the administration and interpretation of such tools I felt that I had a responsibility to take some of the mystery out of them for those of you preparing for interview/assessment centre, etc.

Firstly, a personality profile is what is called a self report tool, it is you describing yourself. There is nothing more sinister underlying it, it is not trying to catch you out in some way!

Secondly a personality profile alone would never be used to make a selection decision. Instead, they would typically be used to inform or add another level of information to the selection process.

Thirdly, it is measuring much the same elements as the interview, whether you are more out-going or shy, more team oriented or self sufficient, etc. However, these profiles are tested for validity and reliability, and so are a more objective method of evaluating personality than using the interview alone. In other words they help make the selection process fairer and less open to the potential unfair biases of interviewers. Yes, they are a good thing!!

Fourthly, it is important to be honest! Most tools have in-built mechanisms to measure the extent to which a person is being honest. If you are trying to create a false impression, it will more than likely be picked up.

Finally, while there is some value in familiarising yourself with the format of personality profiles (see my previous blog on preparing for Assessment Centres) that is the most you can do in terms of preparation, so relax!

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This entry was posted in Career Coaching, Personality and Ability Profiling. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Taking some of the Mystery out of Personality Profiles!

  1. anneheadley says:

    This is a great post, addressing a topic which we career people tend to forget about – the suspicion with which people might approach instruments. In most situations, you are right in the points you make – that the assessment is only part of the picture, that there is built-in reliability and validity. But I think there are employers who have come up with instruments on their own, and I don’t think an applicant can win in this situation.
    I totally agree that you should be honest – because if they don’t like your answers, you’re not going to be happy working there.

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