3 personality tests you must take (+ what they mean for your work life)

Buzzfeed alone has hundreds of them ranging from “Which Sandwich Are You?” (I’m a hamburger with lettuce instead of buns by the way, and I feel attacked) to “Which Buzzfeed Quiz Are You.” While these are solid time wasters, they’re not going to gift you some lost truth about why you are the way you are. However, there are free personality tests out there that can spur valuable self-reflection and even help you in the workplace.
Now, before you read any further, I have to say, no personality test can boil down your unique thoughts, feelings, experiences, and behaviors. So instead of looking at personality tests as comprehensive overviews of who we are, let’s use them as tools. These tools, when wielded properly, can help you better empathize with your coworkers and boss, reflect on how you view yourself, and gain insight into how others might view you.

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The Four Tendencies

We’re cheating a little bit with this first one. That’s because The Four Tendencies doesn’t gauge your personality, but rather, how you respond to expectation. The creator, Gretchen Rubin, explains that there are two types of expectation. Inner—which is something like a self-created New Year’s resolution—and outer—which are things like boss-assigned deadlines, or answering a friend.
Your ‘tendency’ (either Upholder, Obliger, Rebel, or Questioner) is determined by how you respond to these expectations. Rubin argues that people who understand their tendency “make better decisions, meet deadlines…suffer less stress, and engage more deeply with others.” While this might seem like a lofty statement, I was pleasantly surprised by how learning my tendency—Obliger—and organizing my goals with my tendency in mind, helped quell some feelings of burn out and allowed me to work with a coworker more effectively.
As an Obliger, I respond well to outer expectation. If a deadline is set by a coworker or boss, I’m the first to create an organized list of how we’re going to meet it. At my last job, I didn’t feel supported in this, so my perception was that I was the only one who cared about the task at hand. This lead to major feelings of burn out. Later, I discovered my coworker was a Questioner, meaning she responds best to inner expectation and needs to understand why a deadline is set to move forward. Once we learned each other’s tendencies, we had an easier time communicating. I would explain more clearly why deadlines were set, and she would be more intentional about setting top priorities so I wouldn’t become overwhelmed. Win, win!

Myers-Briggs personality test

Myers-Briggs is taking over the world. Some employers have even started asking for your score in interviews! The reason for this test’s success is two-fold. One, it’s a free quiz that takes less than 15 minutes, making it accessible. Two, it measures personality traits on a contrasting spectrum, which means the results are read as black and white—making them easy to understand.
I’m conflicted about this method of ‘scoring’, because I find people unique in their shady grey areas. It can be confining, and often a gross oversimplification, to label someone by a five-letter score.
No one score is better than another, and no matter which letter we’re looking at, all of them have qualities that—if taken too far—can have negative consequences. So again, we won’t look at this test as an end-all-be-all, but as a tool for self-reflection.

Reading your score

Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)

The first letter in your score represents how you interact with your surroundings. Do you feel like your brain is firing on all cylinders—like you’re your best self—when you’re out with a group? So much so that you seek out these types of experiences? You’re exhibiting extraversion in a majorway.
On the flip side, if external stimulus can become draining and overwhelming and you seek out solitary moments, you’re leaning toward introversion.

Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)

If you’re trying to decipher why you focus on certain information more than others, this is the letter for you. ‘Sensing’ or observant individuals will focus on information that is delivered as tried and true. They tend to be pragmatic and thrive in routine. ‘Intuitive’ individuals enjoy ideas, novelty, and imaginative problem-solving.

Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)

This letter interprets how you respond to emotions within yourself and others. For ‘Thinking’ individuals, subduing emotions is important, as they value efficiency and logic. Often, this type is misclassified as cold or unfeeling, when in reality they experience emotions, but might not view them as ‘useful’ in situations.

‘Feeling’ individuals, are more sensitive to their own and others emotions, potentially making this type more empathetic. This type can be misclassified as weak in the workplace when often, these are the people who will go above and beyond to fight for their principles and beliefs.

Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)

This trait helps break down your decision making process and how you respond to structure. The ‘Judging’ trait responds best to certainty and order, and often folks with this trait have contingency plans for every event. Complete with mental check-lists, this trait translates to a strong work ethic but might be viewed as inflexible. The ‘Perceiving’ (or prospecting) trait responds more readily to unexpected challenges and thrives in sifting through a variety of options.

The big 5 personality test

Also known as the 5 factors model, this personality test is the only one recognized by personality psychologists. (Psst, if you want to know more about this awesome sounding profession, check out this podcast episode of Ologies.) What’s unique about this test is that you are looking at 5 broad dimensions of how people differ, and instead of saying you are either ‘this’ or ‘that’, you are given a percentage.
The 5 factors this test looks at are:
  • Openness to experience
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism
Because this model is recognized in academia, there are a few studies that take advantage of this naming convention. One that caught my eye talks about how people who exhibit a high percentage of conscientiousness might find more professional success. It also shares behaviors that contribute to conscientiousness—so if you didn’t score high in conscientiousness—you can fold these behaviors into your routine.
A challenge with this test is that the agreeableness trait can be incredibly difficult to judge on your own. Depending on how self-assured you are, you might view yourself as more or less agreeable. Because of this, I recommend having a trusted friend or family member (that you feel safe with) take the test as you. It can be so eye-opening to compare these results, especially if you’ve ever wondered how other people view your actions.

Other popular tests

As someone who is constantly curious about ‘why I am, the way I am’—I’m elated whenever a new personality test comes on the scene. Below are a few more tests that I hope you enjoy taking as much as I did.

This article originally appeared on Career Contessa.