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Personality Tests and Training

personality tests

Generally speaking; Doctors and nurses are the worse patients, waitresses are the worst restaurant customers, and trainers are the worst participants. I fall into the last group, I struggle in training session unless I find them relevant and engaging and I can be a bit of a critic.

I attended a training recently where the facilitator had some interesting ideas about keeping the session fun and interactive, ideas I am sure were well-intentioned and were there to help us learn. Unfortunately new to the facilitation world, he chose to start the session with an activity he was familiar with. The objective of our meeting was to learn a bit more about team dynamics and help us determine a team style. To do this, he had us take personality tests.

Why Not Personality Tests?

It can be fun to talk about ourselves and how we communicate or react, but personality tests are rarely science-based and should not drive how we manage ourselves in professional or personal settings. I attended this training in a leadership capacity. Serving in that role, I feel an obligation to lead my team, a need to facilitate communications, and a desire to help them achieve their goals.

My Personal Experience With Personality Tests

When I took the personality test at this meeting, I tested as an extremely direct person with entrepreneurial skills who is strong in a leadership position. I have taken this exact test at similar training sessions. The first time I took the test, it showed I am more of an independent, detail oriented person, strong in execution and technical skills. As luck would have it, I was working in Information Technology at the time.

Personality Tests in Team Building Courses?

personality tests

Personality tests don’t belong in team building courses. The test he used wasn’t the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, but it is worth mentioning the MBTI has been largely discredited. Similar tests have also been highly scrutinized, in part because people cannot be so easily put in a box. It doesn’t tell you much to tell you that at one moment in time I took a test that assigned me the letters ENFJ. Reading a profile filled with generalizations about a person does not teach you how to talk to them or improve team dynamics.

If Not Personality Tests, What?

The way to improve the way a team communicates is to help them get to know one another. I am sure most of these tests were originally intended to do exactly that; to be a tool used to start a conversation. However, when I was in the aforementioned training, one person shared that part of his sales training includes a personality test and that he requires all of his sales associates to test high in one specific category. People take personality tests far too literally!

Try a Quiz Instead?

If you want to add a test to your training to help with team dynamics, I suggest you make it something fun. Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan Magazine are full of fun quizzes that tell you which emoji you are or what Halloween costume you should wear this year. Let your participants get to know one another with a similar light-hearted quiz. Creating these quizzes is fun, and you can customize it to be applicable to the group. In a previous blog post, Brian wrote about the Eyeball Part Quiz he created in a similar vein. It is a fun activity where people can learn a bit about the people in the room, but don’t actually believe they are a Cornea and should be treated as one moving forward.

What is your experience with personality tests in training? Let’s talk about it in the comments!


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