What Do Personality Tests Actually Measure?

A new personality test created by the American Marketing Association aims to help marketers get ahead in their careers. Here’s a look at some of the potential pros and pitfalls of measuring personality.

Would you be interested in a personality test tailor-made for your profession to help you do your job better?

If you answered yes, and if you happen to work in marketing, you’re in luck. Late last month, the American Marketing Association launched the Marketing Personality Test, designed to help professionals further their marketing careers.

“Success in marketing is all about understanding personalities,” Jen Billings, director of brand experience at AMA, said in a statement. “Now, we as marketers can learn what makes us tick and how that can help us excel in our work.”

AMA’s research found that marketers as a group tend to share many qualities…. Those who depart from the norm should be aware of how their natural tendencies can help or hinder them professionally.

Based on a survey of more than 1,500 marketers, AMA’s questionnaire is meant to give test-takers insight into where they lie on several personality-based spectrums. For example, users are told if they are more of a “social butterfly” or a “turtle,” depending on the test’s assessment of how extroverted or introverted they are. The results are intended to help marketers develop or grow skills they may be lacking.

“For example, a social butterfly’s interactive nature may translate into strong people-management skills but may also be perceived as superficial,” AMA noted in the statement. “A turtle is likely to have good listening skills but could come across as non-collaborative.”

Other spectrums that the test measures include steamroller versus compromiser, daredevil versus safety officer, and strategizer versus implementer.

It’s an interesting concept tied, no doubt, to the increasing popularity of using personality assessments in the workplace.

Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that workplace personality testing had become a $500 million-a-year business and was expected to grow 10 to 15 percent a year. Yet, the increasing use of these kinds of tests has also sparked questions about their effectiveness and fairness.

Two years ago, CPP, Inc., the exclusive publisher of the well-known Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, launched a public information campaign informing employers that it is unethical to use the MBTI tool as part of the hiring process.

“Completing the assessment must be voluntary (not required of job applicants), and the results are confidential and belong to the respondent,” the company noted in an infographic it used to help spread its message. “Furthermore, people of many different types excel at the same job for different reasons. Individuals should not be pigeonholed based on their personality preferences.”

CPP argued that while MBTI results can be helpful in showing how certain work environments might match an individual’s personality preferences, the results don’t indicate how successful someone will be in a particular career.

It’s no surprise that personality testing is popular, given the current emphasis in business on collecting and analyzing data. Why not measure ourselves?

Self-assessment isn’t a bad thing. An analysis of one’s strengths and weaknesses can prove helpful in making changes to work smarter or advance professionally, which is what the AMA is attempting to provide marketers with its new test.

“Overall, AMA’s research found that marketers as a group tend to share many qualities,” AMA noted. “For example, the vast majority are extroverted, highly collaborative, and optimistic. Therefore, they may need to work harder to differentiate themselves from their peers—when applying for a job, for instance. On the other hand, those who depart from the norm should be aware of how their natural tendencies can help or hinder them professionally.”

Have you used the results of a personality test to help get a leg up in your career or as a tool in hiring? Did you find the process helpful? Please share in the comments.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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