The Best Personality Tests For Choosing A Career

The best personality tests provide an idea of what conditions you’d thrive in and which you’d only survive in. With the insight they provide, it can help understand what jobs align with your nature.

Hi, I'm Michael

I started this blog to help people find their path in life—from finding your passion to just getting a better job. Read my story here.

When choosing a career, it’s common to turn personality tests to help with our decision.

While I don’t believe anyone should make big life decisions based on a personality test, I do believe taking them can help learn a little about ourselves. I’ll be writing a separate post on how to use the information from personality tests, but in the meantime I’ll go over the best ones to take. (subscribe here to be notified when I post that article.)

What I look for in personality tests is if they provide actual insight into one's nature and tendencies. I don’t believe a personality test can provide a list of jobs you should do. There are a lot of tests that do this and end up just confusing you further.

The best tests provide an idea of what conditions you’d thrive in and which you’d only survive in. With the insight they provide, it can help know what field you can pursue that aligns with your nature.

The Big Five

The Big Five grouping for personality traits is one of the most powerful and reliable ways to interpret personality. It was first developed to interpret the relationship between personality and academic behavior.

There are two things you can learn from this test: First, what environments you would do best or worst in, and second, what you need to work on.

These are the five dimensions of personality are:

  • Agreeableness: Compassion and Politeness
  • Conscientiousness: Industriousness and Orderliness
  • Extraversion: Enthusiasm and Assertiveness
  • Neuroticism: Withdrawal and Volatility
  • Openness to Experience: Openness and Intellect

There are a lot of online tests for the big five. A free version you can do is at Truity. I took the test on UnderstandMyself.com and for me the $9.95 investment was worth it. With the insight you’ll gain you’ll save a lot of time and headache not going into pitfalls due to lack of self-awareness.

To give you some insight, I’ll show you how I interpreted my results.

I scored 80th percentile in agreeableness which means that in a room of 100 people, I'm more agreeable than 80 of them and less agreeable than 20 of them. This means I’m uncomfortable with interpersonal conflict and that I’m accommodating and want others to feel comfortable. What does this mean for my career? I probably shouldn’t work in positions that have a lot of conflict or interpersonal difficulty—management, criminal justice, and law are a few examples. I prefer to be in positions where I’m working with and helping others, not policing or managing.

Another takeaway is that I need to work on lowering my discomfort to conflict. I’ll always be an agreeable person, but that doesn’t mean I’m doomed to be uncomfortable with confrontation. It’s important that I learn how to deal with conflict when it arises and even initiate healthy conflict. This is important for negotiating not only in the workplace but also in relationships.

Another dimension is openness. This is one that I’m very high in. This means I need an element of change and creativity in my work. When I tell people I work in customer support operations they think it’s boring as hell. The truth is because I work at an early stage start-up, there’s a lot of creative problem solving and building I get to do. Because I’m high in openness, I know I wouldn’t like working at a large company where the day-to-day is the same. I also cultivate this part of my personality by blogging and writing music.

Enneagram

With personality types like “The Investigator” and “The Helper”, I was a little suspect about this test. In general, I’m not a fan of personality tests that categorize people into types. I think personality types compartmentalize personality too much and this doesn’t account for all the diversity within an individual. I know highly creative people who work in business or mathematically minded people who love art—how does the personality test account for this when it labels people as "creator" or "analyzer".

But with the Enneagram, I like that the results are presented in a narrative style and are more thorough than what you normally see.

What I found most insightful weren’t the strengths but the weaknesses. It is just as important to know your weaknesses as it is to know your strengths. If we aren’t aware of our weaknesses they can become our pitfalls.

One of mine was being pessimistic. I’ve noticed this over the past few years, and it helps to have a test notice it as well. Also, in The Big Five I received a relatively high number for neuroticism so it’s consistent with those results (this is the benefit of taking a couple different tests and comparing the results). The first time I took the enneagram was last year and I’ve been working on being more resilient to negativity ever since. 

There is a great free version of the Enneagram on Personality Path. If you feel so inclined, here is the paid version I tried which was around $12 at the time.

High 5 Test

This test is similar to StrengthsFinder 2.0 except it’s an equivalent free version

The test operates under the idea that you should exploit your strengths so much that your weaknesses become irrelevant. It uses categories like Coach where a high score would mean you enjoy helping people develop their potential. Or Deliverer, where you are a highly responsible person who takes ownership for getting things done. 

Knowing your strengths is important. This will ultimately determine what field or what role in that field you should go into. You always want to be in a position where fundamentally it relies on your strengths.

A good rule of thumb is that 80% of the job’s duties should be based on your strengths and the remaining 20% on your weaknesses. This way you have a good amount of winning as well as growth from addressing your weaknesses.

Conclusion

It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a personality test will make choosing a career easier. The reality is that it’s common to struggle with the decision.

It’s important to remember that personality tests are a supplement to learning about yourself. It’s tempting to have a test tell you what to do, but only you can decide what’s best for you. 

In the end, the best personality test will be to actually try something and see how you like it. Pay attention to yourself and ask questions. 

When you’re stressed, what about the situation do you find stressful? When you are engulfed in your work and lose track of time, what exactly are you doing?

These questions will help you hone in on what you truly want in life as well as what you don’t want.

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