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How to use Personality Questionnaires for Career Development

In recent years, the use of commercial personality questionnaires has exploded, rapidly becoming a mainstay of learning and development (L&D) professionals worldwide.

Although the reasons behind their proliferation are myriad, the main driver behind their use is professional and personal development.

By mapping out a person’s personality, they are better able to reflect on development needs and areas of strength, paying dividends down the line.

As a result, employing organizations are investing heavily in psychometric testing, recognizing the tremendous value that they offer.

Outside of corporate applications, personality questionnaires are also utilized by end-users, not just employers.

We, as individuals, are now able to complete personality questionnaires online, helping us to identify development needs and shape our professional lives without the need for a third-party consultant.

In this article, we will outline the three ways that personality questionnaires can be used to better our professional and personal lives.

Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

First and foremost, personality questionnaires allow individuals to map out and quantify their traits, characteristics, and behavioral styles.

In doing so, we identify the specific traits which help us in our everyday lives, recognizing our personal strengths.

This can provide a much-needed confidence boost, highlighting to individuals their strength of character and reassuring them that they can meet challenges head-on.

Additionally, this activity may also serve to guide an individual’s problem-solving or thinking styles, increasing the chances of success.

Over 50% of personality tests in recruitment use some form of ‘Likert scale’, a Likert scale has varying intensities of answers allowing someone to choose a particular value for how much they agree or disagree with a statement.

This allows the personality test to be less rigorous and to more accurately rate people’s traits e.g., extraversion.

If a person scores highly on an extroversion scale, this may confer certain advantages in the social domain, helping them to resolve conflict.

Moreover, personality questionnaires can also identify development needs, suggesting areas for improvement and observation.

Although personality itself cannot be changed, recognizing certain weaknesses can help avoid problems before they arrive and will increase self-awareness during difficult times.

For example, people who score highly on neuroticism scales are more likely to experience negative emotions and struggle with stress.

Knowing that you are innately more neurotic can help guide your decision-making, as avoiding stress and pressure will be of paramount importance.

Similarly, knowing that you are neurotic means that personal and professional development should be geared towards resilience and stress management, helping to avoid burnout and stress-related illness.

Identify Suitable Careers

Secondly, personality questionnaires can be used to identify suitable careers based on your personality profile.

It’s no secret that certain personalities are drawn to certain careers.

For example, in the Myers-Briggs 16 type framework, extroverted personality types tend to be drawn to customer service, sales, and managerial positions, as they tend to seek interpersonal interaction.

Knowing your personality type, in this instance, could help guide early-stage career decisions, minimizing the probability of choosing a career that doesn’t suit you.

In much the same way, personality questionnaires can be used to identify careers and vocations which are particularly unsuitable for your personality type.

For example, if you are particularly neurotic, then you should avoid highly stressful occupations, such as sales and finance.

Occupational burnout and stress-related illness are serious considerations when choosing a career, and your health should always be the main priority.

Additionally, undue stress is likely to reduce employee engagement and job satisfaction, making you miserable with the job itself.

With these considerations in mind, your own personal temperament should always be considered when choosing a vocation.

Consider Organisation-Role Fit

In the corporate space, the topic of “organizational culture” has become widespread as companies have realized that each organization is unique.

Much like nations, towns, and other groups of people, companies have unique cultures which bind them, favoring certain interpersonal styles over others.

Congruence between employee personality and organizational culture is essential, and organizations are even utilizing personality questionnaires in recruitment to ensure person-organization fit and its many other benefits.

For example, a specific organization may value innovation and creativity and will consequently seek to hire particularly innovative and creative employees.

Those who experience person-organization misfit are less likely to thrive in such an organization, as they will feel distant from their peers and will fail to impress their managers.

However, those who do share the organization’s values are likely to feel particularly at home, sharing a sense of belonging with their colleagues and their employing organization.

By identifying your personality traits and researching a company’s values, you will be able to self-assess your likely level of fit, helping to decide which organizations to apply to.


Personality questionnaires rank among the most versatile and useful personal development tools on the market.

However, one must also recognize the limitations of these tools to get the most from them.

Naturally, they are only designed to measure behavioral traits, not hard skills or cognitive abilities.

Many different factors will determine your development needs, career aspirations, and suitability to certain organizational cultures, not just your personality.

However, few other tools are as accessible or powerful, making them invaluable components of any serious professional and personal development plan.

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