my new employer made me take a personality test and my results were horrible

A reader writes:

Before I signed on for my new job, I agreed to do a couple of personality tests. My new employer said it was to get a sense of how to work with me and my strengths and weaknesses. They stressed that my hiring wouldn’t depend on the result and did not send the tests through until I signed the offer.

One personality test was what they said it would be, but the second … oh boy, I got a bad feeling when the very first question essentially asked if I had a history of depression (“do you feel blue sometimes?”).

It only got worse from there. The results I got basically said that I was lazy and “blamed external circumstances,” that I was “neurotic” and “volatile,” that I was “highly likely to lash out” but also that I’m a doormat. It wasn’t about strengths or weaknesses, it was an objective assessment on my mental stability and work ethic.

I seriously reconsidered whether or not I wanted to go through with this job because of the results. I know they’re not true.

The test said I was in the top 1% of introversion, but I have a customer service job and I’m constantly striking up warm conversations with patients and their families. It said I was lazy, but when we had an issue with an external contractor’s reports not going through automatically, I volunteered to do overtime for weeks to manually proofread and approve them; the national director said I was the only person other than himself that he trusted to do that. When I had appointments, I often made up my hours instead of using sick leave. When we had a patient brushed off by a doctor, I called around to multiple places to see who would give her the mental health evaluation she needed. I know I’m a better person than this test said and I’ll be damned if I have to prove it right out the starting gate.

I mentioned in my responding email that I was surprised at the results and my new employer just said they looked forward to discussing it after I started, so they haven’t run away yet, but I’m still pretty rattled. The employer was talking up the test and how “accurate” it was before they sent it, through.

I ended up deciding to still go through with the job because of personal reasons, but I start in two weeks and I’m dreading this awful result following me around my whole time there. It’s a tiny family-owned company. I don’t want to be micromanaged because the test said I’m lazy, or my concerns to be brushed off because I got a bad result, or to be treated like a bomb about to go off when I’ve never had more than a minor conflict with a colleague (which was resolved without animosity).

How do I address this with my new employer without looking like I’m just salty I got results I didn’t like?

WTF! That’s horrible. Of course you’re rattled. It would be unnerving in any context to be told you’re a whole litany of negative things that you know you’re not, but it’s particularly awful in an employment situation where they don’t really know you yet and you’ve got to start a new job with “lazy, neurotic, volatile, and likely to lash out (but also somehow a doormat)” hanging over you.

Moreover, your new employer set you up to believe this assessment was something it very much wasn’t.

I looked at the test they gave you, and it doesn’t mention anything indicating it’s designed for use in employment contexts. It talks about taking it with a friend, family member, or romantic partner. They essentially gave you a Cosmo quiz.

As for what to do … the fifth paragraph of your letter is an excellent rebuttal. I’d seriously consider if you want to send a version of it to them before or soon after you start the job, changing the last sentence to something like, “These results were strikingly different from how I work and at odds with the feedback I’ve always received from managers. My strong preference is to move forward in our working relationship without engaging with the results. I hope you’ll learn who I am from working with me, and I believe that will paint a very different picture than this assessment did.”

And then you’ll need to go into the job prepared to do exactly that: show them who you are by how you operate on the job. If you sense that they’re treating you differently because of the test results, you could name what you’re seeing. For example, if you sense they’re hesitating to give you feedback because your test said you’ll lash out at the slightest provocation: “I’ve noticed you seem wary about giving me constructive criticism, so I wanted to assure you I welcome it — I’d be grateful for anything you can share about how I can approach XYZ better” … and so forth.

More broadly: it’s time to get rid of personality tests in hiring and onboarding. Some people do find them useful frameworks to discuss and better understand their colleagues’ ways of working and communicating, but so many people don’t — and if you are going to use them, pre-hire and pre-start is the wrong time to do it, since it asks people to make themselves vulnerable before any real trust or mutual knowledge of each other has been established.

{ 512 comments… read them below }

  1. Reality Check*

    No advice, OP. Just sympathy. I mentioned last week how one of these stupid tests cost me a job. I hate them, and I wish they would just go away.

    1. Caroline*

      I’ve heard them referred to as astrology for coworkers, and I wish everyone considered them similarly useless.

      1. MBK*

        It’d be great if people considered these personality tests as useless as astrology, but it’d also be great if more people considered astrology to be as useless as astrology actually is.

        Both are fine if you want a little conversation starter (even if that conversation is with yourself), or if you’re looking for some interesting nuggets to spark some self-reflection or possible changes. But as a reliable source of actionable truth? Absolutely not.

        1. Worldwalker*

          What’s even funnier is that the newspaper “astrology” isn’t even real astrology! Actually casting a horoscope is extremely specific to the one person, and requires a lot of work and calculations. (And is still bunk)

          The fundamental concept behind real astrology is that everyone is absolutely unique, defined by the exact time and location of their birth. The fundamental concept of newspaper astrology is that there are only 12 types of people, period. So woo and woo-woo.

        2. JSPA*

          More to the point, if one is of the opinion that astrology is real–ditto the vast majority of assessment tests–that tends towards being a “belief system” (in the religious or religion-adjacent sense).

          Using quasi-religious belief systems in hiring is iffy behavior, at best.

          While I of course wish the OP well on the job, I’d consider the use of the test in hiring to be a red-tinged yellow flag, and any strange behavior around the test results to be akin to red dye leaching up into the flag.

          And if they use the test to find out if you easily become defensive? That’s a different red flag. “We mess with you to see what you’re like when perturbed” is bad behavior, full stop. Even if they were hiring for some madly high stress job where you’re expected to be dissed and devalued on the regular, you still need to know that your company has your back.

      2. JustHereToRead*

        My mom and stepdad owned a small business. Any potential employees had to take a personality test AND an IQ test, and their IQ had to be at least that of my stepdad’S IQ to get hired…..

        It was insanity and they (predictably) had high employee turnover.

        (I also tried to explain to my mom why IQ tests were designed to be racist– and still remain highly racist– and her response was ‘tell me how many points higher on average a white persons IQ is and we will adjust for that with applicants’ LIKE WTF to the highest degree)

      3. Heart&Vine*

        “Ohhhhh, you’re a Gemini? Sorry, we’ll never work well together because, as a Libra, I appreciate honesty and I just can’t trust a Gemini.” Just as useless and idiotic as a personality test.

        1. StephChi*

          FWIW, I think that astrology is absolute nonsense, but also have to laugh at your example because the most famous and successful songwriting partnership in history was made up of a Gemini (Paul McCartney) and a Libra (John Lennon).

          Of course, they fell out after 13 (I think?) years together, but that had nothing to do with their astrological signs clashing.

      4. OMG, Bees!*

        I recall when they were fun tests online as a teen. Until later I realized that, at least with Myers-Briggs test, I can have different results on different weeks depending on my mood (not completely different, but enough to not be reliable). They really are nothing more than fun waste-of-time tests

    2. Gozer*

      A retail company put me through one when I was unemployed and looking for work – and an IQ ‘test’. Whatever I got made them tell me ‘no way’.

      Done enough mental health tests/personality tests that I can make them say whatever I want.

    3. Frustrated Fundraiser*

      I lost a job—working on the floor of a department store no less— when I was in college. I had worked there the summer before, and the test indicated I would be a theft risk. It’s been many years, and the store is no longer in business but I learned to tell them what they wanted to hear. But yes, if I knew a coworker had starving children, I would look the other way if the took bread.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I didn’t get a retail job once in college because I apparently failed a test like that. I am a scrupulously trustworthy person and in the decades since, I’ve worked with cash, expensive inventory, controlled drugs, and very sensitive personal information with no issues whatsoever. Ridiculous.

      2. there's another option*

        In your hypothetical, the results of the test were correct then. Why not cover the cost of the bread yourself or offer to help the starving co-worker in some other way that doesn’t involve stealing?

        1. Florence Reese*

          No, in that hypothetical, the results of the test are not correct. Frustrated Fundraiser did not steal anything, therefore they are not a theft risk. “Theft” would be an action they take to steal. “Theft” does not mean “lack of action when someone else steals something.” Any company that tries to convince you of that wants to own your conscience as well as your labor, and that should bug you.

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          If someone’s kids are starving, that person is not getting paid enough. Nor is their coworker. Saying that a coworker should buy food instead of the company bearing the costs of doing business is . . . well . . .

          These tests are not scientific, and they do not present realistic scenarios. They should not be used for employment purposes.

          1. ThatOtherClare*

            Not gonna lie, if I knew a co-worker’s children were starving I’d be looking the other way as they stole bread, giving them my bread, nagging upper management to raise the wages for everyone in that role, and once I inevitably got fired I’d be dragging the company name through the media. I’d be a massive risk and a terrible hiring choice for an unethical company, and I’m PROUD of it. Still employed in the for-profit sector and getting great reviews though.

      3. Laura*

        I think the goal of these tests is to fail exactly the number of applicants that the company does not want to talk to. It creates a sham of objectiveness and does not require time or decisions by the person(s) doing the hiring. I’ve seen it in cases where e.g. 300 people applied for one job. Hand them a stupid test that can be marked as “failed” 297 times and give the three applicants that passed an interview.

        Not in the case of the LW though, as they already got the job and is now starting it with a “hat” that is not theirs but some superstition on part of the company.

    4. ray*

      I was once at a national training seminar where they had everyone take a disc test. After the results were gone over by the instructor they pulled a person from the class and they didn’t return. This person was an established and respected professional in our industry with years of experience and who many of us knew. We later found out they told they had mental instabilities and they weren’t welcome at the training. A little bit of perceived knowledge often leads to terrible and destructive results. These types of tests should be left to professionals behind closed doors.

      1. just some guy*

        Considering DISC’s somewhat NSFW origins, the fact that it’s turned into just another bland corporate personality test is kind of hilarious.

      2. Laura*

        I feel reminded of how Feynman described the test that led to him not being allowed to join the army in 1942. (I hope I’m remembering it correctly, has been some time since I read the book.)

      3. Summerbust*

        Setting aside the NLRB’s recently-announced crackdown on using personality tests “to evaluate [employees’] propensity to seek union representation”, that sounds like inviting an A.D.A. complaint. Explicitly acknowledging that the person was denied a professional training opportunity BECAUSE of their “mental instabilities”? At that point, it wouldn’t even matter if they were WRONG about the diagnosis – the EEOC would recognize retaliation against someone who was merely “regarded as” having a mental disability. If the company had specific reason to believe that the person’s condition would pose a THREAT to themselves or others, I can see CONSIDERING a ban as one option – but even then, they should have spoken with that employee and asked if there were accommodations they could provide to enable the employee to address their specific areas of concern.

        Was this a third-party industry-themed training, where your company sent several of you there but employees of other companies were also attending?

    5. thatoneoverthere*

      I hate these and other types of assessments. I have never taken them AFTER a job offer, only before. Usually if these types of tests are given, I do not get a call at all for interviews.

      A close acquittance was working at very large insurance company. Basically at that time, if you had an outside referral and decent experience you were guaranteed an interview and most likely a job. The person that did my referral was well liked and successful at the company. I applied and was given one of those tests. I was immediately rejected from the running due to the results. I was so disappointed.

      The funny thing is, the person who did the referral ended up moving to a different part of the company that dealt with call offs, no shows and etc. He told me that since instituting the test multitudes of people were being let go for constant call offs, poor performance (not sales based) and just bad work in general. Guess it goes to show that those that do well on those things don’t necessarily mean they are the best candidate!

    6. Gozer (she/her)*

      Until they can find a flawless test that eliminates homophobes/racists/antisemetics/transphobes/sexists et al from the hiring pool I’m not interested.

      On a joking note I asked the team today which Starfleet department they’d be in. 10% answered Command, 20% answered Science/Medical and 70% answered Engineering.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      It’s a tiny family-owned company.

      Theeeerrrre it is. The bee warning. Obviously not all family owned companies are bee-full, but combined with this garbage? It’s dripping royal jelly all over the carpet.

      1. Anon Again... Naturally*

        Tiny family owned company, and I’m sure they don’t have anything resembling competent HR practices. Which is why they thought it was a good idea to use the equivalent of a Cosmo quiz to learn about their employees.

      2. Isabel Archer*

        I’m about to start job searching for the first time in 4 years, and if I even get a whiff of a personality test I’m going to nope right out of that “opportunity.”

    2. Princess Sparklepony*

      I’d love to see an update to see how it’s going. It could end up being in a year end round up of crazy banana pants…

  2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Employers do not know how to use these so called personality tests. They are junk.

    I don’t blame you OP for second guessing wanting to work there. Just remember, if this is on the tip of the iceberg of craziness (I was specific about the tip here), you are free to go elsewhere. Just wasn’t the right fit is a good reason for leaving soon.

    1. Antilles*

      Exactly. Also, in my experience, employers often straight up ignore the actual background information described in the results packet itself. Like, there’ll be a long paragraph (sometimes even a full page worth!) explaining how all personality types have strengths and weaknesses, no personality type is superior to any other, these are just a general guide, people can act different in different situations…and then employers straight up ignore that entire explanation.

      1. TechWorker*

        I mean I also heavily judge these tests/don’t think they show anything accurate but I don’t think the hedging on the results means anything more than ‘it’s not actually productive in the workplace or good for morale to tell people they have undesirable traits’. This one seemed to… er.. not bother with that.

        1. Venus*

          One of the first ones, Myers Briggs, was developed because she didn’t like her future son-in-law and wanted an excuse for her daughter to break up with him.

          As others have noted on here, the tests summarize who people think they are, and not who they actually are. They also don’t have any nuance as they describe people as introverts or extraverts, and ignore that many people are near the middle.

          It is very reasonable to fill them out optimally for any job-hiring reason.

        2. sparkle emoji*

          Yeah, all the hedging in the world doesn’t change the fact that most of these tests aren’t based on anything and are subject to human assumptions and biases.

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      If I’m on a group project it’s useful to know if my group members like to see the planning and analysis that led to my decision or if they would prefer I just tell them what I’m going to do and then do it. Sure we could fill out a survey and compare our top 5, or I could just ask them which they want me to do!

      I love reading about different personality tests. I also love reading about horoscopes. Personality tests are only slightly more useful.

      1. JustaTech*

        The one time I’ve done one of these tests and it was useful was when we did the DiSC communication style assessment (communication style, not personality), mostly because it gave our existing teams a framework for discussing *how* we prefer to communicate.

        And we learned some really important things about how the three of us are best able to receive information! (When everyone you work with is a scientist it’s easy to fall into thinking that we’re all the exact same kind of analytical thinkers.) Going over how best to pass along information, and especially corrections, was incredibly useful and smoothed out an increasingly rough relationship between my two coworkers (Betty and Christina) that was starting to take up a lot of my time and energy.


        It was very firmly *not* about our personalities. And also, we’d been working together for years, so we already knew each other, rather than essentially meeting someone first as their assessment, and then as a person/coworker.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          Right! In my experience with Strengths Test (I was actually a trainer, so I taught people how to interpret and apply their results) it’s *intended* to show how people approach things. It’s not about what you’re good or bad at, but what approach you naturally take when you’re doing things and succeeding. But in practice, that’s not how most people read and apply the results. If an employer isn’t equipped to use the tool effectively, it becomes a bad tool. Strengths Finder should stay out of the workplace.

          1. Frustrated Fundraiser*

            I did Strengths Finders with a trainer, and it was very helpful. But my team at work took it, and my manager weaponized the results. “He’s such a harmony guy.”

            1. Constance Lloyd*

              I took it again at a later employer. It was so useless, we took the quiz, got our list, and then did nothing with it. One coworker had all 5 strengths in the executing category, and she proceeded to lecture all of us for approaching work “wrong” because we… weren’t like her? Our manager eventually had to intervene and remind her that this was a customer service role and she received a lot of complaints about her rudeness, so maybe she should reconsider her own approach to the job and stop bullying the rest of us.

        2. CatWrangler3000*

          I found our DiSC assessments interesting too. I liked how it framed it as “just because you might find this way of dealing with things best for you, it might be the opposite for someone else and here’s why.” And also not dismissing any one way of doing something as wrong or bad, just different than what you might find the most efficient.

          My only complaint is that I just wish our upper management actually did something with it after our initial workshop.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            I think these can be helpful to illustrate to some people, who apparently do not realize it on their own until pointed out, that not everyone communicates in the same way or likes to be talked to in the same way. And it can be useful to give peole language to describe feelings and preferences that they’d not known how to articulate before. However, even these have limited use in most workplaces because they don’t capture how often people cannot be themselves at work.

            Just using myself as an example, we had to do one of these at my office, and I answered truthfully about how i behave in the workplace, but because of the type of bosses I have and how many prickly people I work with, I very much cannot communicate in my preferred style (direct, to the point) at office. But because the questions didn’t distinguish between “how do you communicate at work” and “how do you prefer to communicate,” my score indicated that I prefer to be communicated with in a way that in fact drives me up the wall. I’m glad the big boss dropped this because the last thing I want to do is to encourage people to talk to me the way my score indicates.

            OTOH, I do work with some people who had never realized that not everyone else is exactly like them, so it was useful for teaching them that differences exist.

        3. Lea*

          Yes!! We did the same one and it was similarly useful for working in teams, to give perspective.

          But as an onboarding deal? I’m not sure what test op took but it seems really odd

        4. Lea*

          Yes!! We did the same one and it was similarly useful for working in teams, to give perspective.

          But as an onboarding deal? I’m not sure what test op took but it seems really odd

      2. Garblesnark*


        I work at a hospital, mostly with doctors. When I started, I was instructed very firmly not to ever call doctors by their first name, as a sign of respect, unless they specifically asked me to. And even then, I should call them Dr. last name as often as possible and in any and all communications that might be distributed. Also, I was instructed very firmly not to be overly rigid about calling people Dr. last name.

        So I just asked all the doctors what they wanted to be called. Sometimes asking is the easy button.

      3. Laura*

        I was totally fascinated with tests from childhood on. I did every test I found in magazines or books, first for my teddy bears, then for my favorite characters in stories, later for my role playing game characters, for the characters in the adventure stories I wrote when class was boring…

        It’s quite hard for me to *not* create a character that fits the test, and let them provide the answers.

    3. MigraineMonth*

      I worked for a company that is notorious for its cult-like atmosphere, and one aspect of that is that you have to “pass” a personality test as part of the hiring process. (No, I don’t know how one passes a personality test. I figure in the best case they’re trying to select insecure overachievers; in the worst case they’re measuring potential for brainwashing.)

      As a hilarious side-effect, the company has a shortage of maintenance people for their buildings because so many applicants “failed” the personality test.

      1. Random Dice*

        I read about the new hire orientation of a famous mail-order shoe retailer, that involves offering a substantial sum for new hires to quit (after intense deep indoctrination).

        It is such a standard cult practice, that is used to keep people in place even after years of mistreatment due to that original sunk cost / false commitment.

        I have been deeply hesitant to buy from them ever since.

        1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

          Yeah, I had wondered if this might be an attempt at negging the new employee, as it were.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Yes. I agree that it’s a neg, and a transparent one at that. From now on, OP will be on her back foot trying to gain their confidence, and working extra-hard not to appear lazy. This leaves her ripe for exploitation.

            For example, “Oh, OP, it’s ok if you can’t work 60 hours this week, we know your personality test showed the laziness trait.” Determined to prove them wrong, and before she knows it, the OP agrees to work 60 hour weeks.

        2. coffee*

          Which shoe retailer, for those of us not familiar with one? (I assume it’s a US company?)

          So they hire and train you, then offer you money to quit?

    4. Reality.Bites*

      From Alison’s read on it, it doesn’t even qualify as a so-called personality test. I’d be hesitant to take a job there regardless of my results on it, because they were unable to tell the difference between junk science and junk entertainment.

    5. not nice, don't care*

      My workplace tried the strengthsfinder thing once during a massive re-org, but quickly abandoned it when they found out 90% of us tested for strengths that did not contribute to forcing introverts into public facing work.

    6. Wonderer*

      I’d suggest that you keep applying to other jobs, just in case. You don’t want to lose several months worth of potential opportunities, just because you took this one and then it turned out to be in a haunted beehive.

    7. Artemesia*

      If you need the job, go ahead of course, but I would continue my job search unless you are convinced after the first month that this is not just the tip of a giant iceberg of woo and incompetence.

  3. Kelli*

    I’m currently sitting in on a WebEx going over our Briggs Meyers results. The fact I have to listen to this crap makes me angry. The presenter is talking like this is gospel. I’m going to give honest option in the feedback email. The Briggs Meyers is a glorified Buzzfeed quiz.

    1. Catwhisperer*

      A friend of mine once referred to them as “workplace astrology” and I think that’s the most accurate term.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        Workplace astrology is a great term for it. My employer offers “True Colors,” which I understand is either Briggs-Meyers or a variant, as an optional training session that counts as the required annual DEI training, but I always find an alternative training (one that is actually useful in discussing DEI) to fulfill that requirement.

        My grandboss absolutely ADORES that “True Colors” testing. She has scheduled mandatory “True Colors” sessions for our entire work unit on several occasions because she is determined to find out everyone’s “Colors,” but strangely enough, every time she has set one up, I have somehow had a doctor’s appointment or a vet appointment or a trip or some other obligation that winds up being scheduled for the exact same time. ‘Tis a mystery indeed….

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I’m sorry, taking a personality test counts as your DEI training?!?

          I don’t think this is what is meant by breaking down the color barrier.

          1. Irish Teacher.*

            I’m guessing their company thinks “well, it teaches you people have different personalities, so that’s diversity, right?”

            I’m…really wondering what that company is like about DEI issues in general.

            1. Nobby Nobbs*

              I was in a leadership seminar a few years back where a few people shared that the Meyers-Briggs test and generalized list of generational differences really opened their eyes to the fact that different people approach the world differently and this is relevant to the workplace, so there must be some people who still need to be exposed to that idea, but yeesh. I wouldn’t trust DEI training that centered personality quizzes as far as I could throw the building it’s being held in.

            2. just some guy*

              I don’t get why companies pay hundreds and thousands of dollars for things like MBTI to teach this “different people have different personalities and everybody has their role!” when My Little Pony is right there on YouTube.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                Lol, indeed. Most preschool cartoons talk about all people/ponies/pups having different strengths.

                1. KaciHall*

                  no caribou too stuck, no pup too small!

                  at least, I think that was what it was on the PawPatrol my kiddo watched yesterday.

        2. Sociology Rocks!*

          lol, I once adored Myers Briggs, but that was wayyyyy back in middle school, when you’re desperately trying to start building a sense of identity for yourself.
          Now that i think about it, i wonder if my results would change in the 10+ years and gender transition since i last took it.

          1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

            I revel in the fact that I have never received a consistent result on a Meyers-Briggs assessment

            I’ve been an I(?)T(??) for years

            1. linger*

              The MBI scales’ binary labels are often wrongly interpreted as non-gradable (opposed categories with no mid-point), but they actually describe gradable scales showing bell-shaped curves, with most people scoring close to the middle on most axes. The scale mid-points are only avoided by very arbitrary treatment of rounding errors. And for most people, the answers to 2-3 items on each scale are a coin toss. So, even if you find the MBI results useful, some caution is required:
              1. To the extent that they mean anything at all, the classification scales refer to some preferred or easiest, not sole, mode of processing.
              2. Unless you’re really extreme on all scales, your nominal category “classification” probably will change over time and between situations.
              3. Any neighboring category description within 2 responses (20-25%) of your nominal category score is just as likely to be perceived as an accurate self-description.

        3. zuzu*

          My sister went to an onsite training that used “True Colors” to pre-sort the attendees. She was one of only two or three Reds. The vast majority were Blues or Yellows.

          The Blues and Yellows started ganging up on the Reds before the conference even started, but somehow it was the Reds’ fault, because they were just so *mean.* The facilitator, who was the one who used the test in the first place, encouraged this behavior. One of the Blues had a meltdown during a training exercise and actually accused my sister of making fun of her dog’s death (which she had no idea about, and why would she? They barely knew each other) because of some comment she made about the exercise. The Blues and Yellows demanded my sister apologize, but she just went back to her hotel. The other Reds were frantically texting her from the conference about how the facilitator had completely lost control of the conference due to the sobbing Blue demanding a ritualistic sacrifice from the cruel, cruel Red.

          Someone finally reminded the Blue that pretty much all of the billable work she and her team had originated with my sister and the excess work that came from the project she managed, and alienating her for no good reason was not a good idea.

          1. Oh dear*

            …what kind of Die Welle bullshit…?

            (Movie known as “The Wave” in English. Even has an English version of it, though that one ends better than the German version.)

        4. Tau*

          A past workplace did True Colors just before I started, and it was apparently the stuff of legends. Apparently there was a thing where the organiser had brought some sort of mat with different sections for the different colors, and people were supposed to split up by color after being tested. The problem was that everyone in my department got the same result (Blue, iirc). The organiser had assumed a more equal distribution and the mat did not scale well to this situation. Which is how the personality test ended in workplace Twister.

        5. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          Oh my goodness, if anything, highlighting the narrowness of Myers Briggs should be part of DEI training. To actually use it *in* DEI training is outrageous.

          “To understand diversity and equality, here’s how you stick every human being in the planet into one of these eight boxes based on how they answer open ended hypotheticals about their own behaviour and label them accordingly.”

          “But aren’t people individuals? Aren’t there lots of different people in the world?”

          “Nope. Eight types.”

      2. FrivYeti*

        Briggs Meyers is substantially worse than workplace astrology, since astrology wasn’t designed to remove black people and people with disabilities from the workforce.

        1. JustaTech*

          Oof, I didn’t know that, I just knew it was nonsense.

          We had some DEI training about “grit” in the workplace where we had to take an assessment of how “gritty” you were and reading the test it was like “if you have ADHD you fail”. Which I brought up in the training in front of everyone (I was really mad) and the trainer seemed genuinely surprised that this thing that was supposed to be an unalloyed good was actually (as presented in the test) really ableist.

          1. Swiss Army Desk*

            I just looked it up wondering what it was and… that “grit test” by Angela Duckworth, which I assume is what you took, really is just an ADHD diagnostic questionnaire. Like, she cribbed that from the DSM-V. Wow.

            Also cry-laughing at the juxtaposition in the test instructions of “there are no right or wrong answers” with “you’ll get a score that reflects how passionate and persevering you [are].” I’m pretty sure that if you can get a high score in [desirable attribute] then the answers that get you said score are the ‘right’ ones and the ones that get you a low score are the ‘wrong’ ones.

            1. JustaTech*

              That’s the one. It’s been so long since I was tested for ADHD that I’m not familiar with the testing, but to me the whole thing felt very much like “you, specifically you, are a lazy loser” which is just so effing insulting.
              Particularly when several of the people who are open about their ADHD are in high positions with complex technical degrees! Like, obviously we’re not lying around on the couch “quitting”.

              Now I’m even more mad about the whole thing.

          1. FrivYeti*

            The Myers-Briggs organization will deny it emphatically, but the stated purpose of developing the tests was to “channel” people into jobs that would be “appropriate” for them. The traits that were “appropriate” for leadership positions were those that were culturally aligned with White Protestant men, because the questions were devised with those groups in mind; results skew dramatically across ethnic lines. They also act to close out most neurodiverse people by portraying their results as “not fitting” for positions of authority or power.

            This gets complicated by the fact that at least one of the two developers of the test was extraordinarily racist; she wrote a murder mystery in which the big twist was that a series of murders of a rich white family were actually them committing suicide after discovering they had Black heritage, a fact that the detective considered tragic but understandable.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      Absolutely. A couple of untrained people took Jungian psychology concepts and slapped them on something to market to companies. The MBTI has basically no test-retest reliability and that’s just the tip of the iceberg on its issues.

      1. Zap R.*

        Myers-Briggs also convinced a whooooole lot of people that introversion/extraversion is an immutable binary thus unleashing a particularly virulent strain of Extremely Annoying Person.

        1. Clara*

          The “I’m really interesting and different because I feel like I have more energy when I’ve had time by myself relaxing like a total introvert, but actually have social skills like an extrovert omg!” type? Yep.

        2. Kimmy Schmidt*

          Wait, is that where the cultural obsession with introversion/extroversion came from??? Myers-Briggs is the reason I’m going to ban my colleagues from ever using the word ‘introvert’ again when I’m elected queen of the world!?

          1. Zap R.*

            When I did DEI work, I was in multiple situations where people tried to tell me that introverts are a marginalized group who suffer discrimination.

            I get that certain communication styles are undervalued in Western workplaces but yeesh.

            1. Eldest Child of My Workplace*

              It reflects pretty poorly on the state of Western companies in general that this post is effectively saying “look, Jenny, I know that we’re undervaluing your communication style, but right now we have to address the fact that we’re paying you less than your male colleagues.”

            2. Orv*

              I’d say the preference for open-plan offices to allow “collaboration” alone suggests that extroverts are favored. That’s not to say I expect anyone to recognize introverts as a protected class, but it’s pretty clear that no one is interested in providing what introverts need to work efficiently.

        3. Eldest Child of My Workplace*

          No, it didn’t. The stuff about introversion started when Susan Cain published the book Quiet in the early 2010s, which was basically a collection of results from academic studies that highlighted the strengths of introverts in an attempt to dispel bias against introverts. Interest in MBTI spiked among the general public after that as people tried to understand their own preferences, and yes, a bunch of silly memes got posted, but teenagers being silly on the internet are in no way responsible for the horrible way employers are using personality tests in the workplace – in fact, Quiet itself criticised employers who used personality tests to screen out introverts.

        4. MsM*

          It did strike up what I thought was a very useful conversation on the difference between introversion and shyness when we discussed it in one of my MBA classes, though.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          An an INTP, I started to formulate a well-reasoned response, but I got bored and decided to work on something new, so I didn’t finish it.

    3. Gozer*

      It’s as much bunk as judging people on their BMI – the same kind of junk ‘science’.

      You can’t fit people into boxes. Want to know how to relate to someone? ASK THEM.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I’d argue that MBTI is even worse (from a perspective of “is this remotely scientifically valid?” rather than how much harm is caused by the use). At least with BMI, if you divide the same height and weight multiple times you get the same number every time (a number that tells you nothing of worth, but still a number). With MBTI it’s a lucky dip of meaningless nonsense that can be different every time the same person takes it again.

    4. Pita Chips*

      My deepest sympathies. A psychologist friend commented to me that Meyers-Briggs is bunk. That’s good enough for me.

    5. LCH*

      a non-profit management class in college (2002) introduced us to Myers–Briggs. we had a whole class (3.5 hrs) that discussed it and coworker interaction.

    6. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      I had to take this in the 90’s along with about 75 of my coworkers in my division. The breakdown into groups was about even except for the group I was in. There were only 4 of us and according to the “results” we told we are “the skeptics” and didn’t believe in personality test results. Our job was to analyze computer code and systems for weaknesses. Go figure. We spent the rest of the discussion time dissecting the test questions and ridiculing those that believed in it. Any guesses as to our “designation”

      INTJ of course

    7. BellaStella*

      Myers Briggs is what our team used and yes it is not terrific and it does sure help management to pigeon hole people. Sadly. As managers they are not trained therapists etc. I hate this stuff too.

    8. I Have RBF*

      IMO, Myers-Briggs is more useful than the FFM, but only because it covers interaction styles, not your actual personality. YMMV, of course.

      But they are all overhyped FB quizzes, IMO.

      Even a genuine, psychological IQ test or cognitive impairment tests are only useful in the hands of trained psych or neurological professionals in a clinical setting. They were never meant to be workplace screening tests, and should not be used as such. Because they are often diagnostic tools, they can be easily weaponized in workplace contexts.

    9. ThatOtherClare*

      If you haven’t already sent the email, please tell them it’s not just crap, but ableist crap. Myers-Briggs is a disaster for neurodiverse people.

      Should an autistic person respond as if they’re masking or not? Should a quiet, neat, tidy, introspective person with ADHD respond about their medicated self or their messy, disorganised self who blurts things out without thinking when unmedicated? Can a veteran with PTSD say they like new experiences if there are caveats on that? What about a woman with PTSD who is timid and shy around men and the life of the party around women? Will they redo the test in August for the people who get SAD? Knowing a bipolar person’s Myers-Briggs type won’t help you predict their actions in a manic or depressive phase.

      Myers-Briggs is like a talking parrot: fun, but it needs to stay out of the 99.9% of workplaces where people aren’t talking bird specialists.

  4. Falling Diphthong*

    I think to the extent “what’s your style” tests are sometimes useful, it’s after you have a lot more context in which you will then set the new information of the results. So if you learn that Barney tends to take in information visually and Lois tends to learn best from spoken instruction, you put that together with all your existing knowledge about how it is to work with them, including explaining things to them. Maybe you make no changes, and maybe you sometimes add another data display if this report is mostly for Barney.

    1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      I took an on-line class in how to communicate with difficult people and it gave a breakdown of personality/communication types. I did the test to determine my type and it was pretty accurate, plus it gave me an idea of better communication with different types of people and communicating in different ways. That said, it was a voluntary class that I took on my own time and for my own benefit. You didn’t have to submit your results and it didn’t count towards anything career wise because no employer ever required it or looked at the results.

      Any time I’ve taken a personality test to pre-screen for a job, I’ve never gotten an interview, let alone a job from it. I’m not saying I have a perfect personality, but I’m definitely not whatever rubric they’re using to screen me out.

      1. ErinW*

        I did have a good experience with one of these types of tests, though I can’t remember which one. The boss wanted everyone to take them, and my personality type was sort of a pessimist – the person who shoots down the ideas – and an introvert. We discussed it at length where I was candid about how I felt that even though I’m disinclined to work with teams (but I will if needed), I am a very strong and reliable independent worker. As for being a pessimist, we discussed how her personality type – an innovator and leader (of course) – can be pie-in-the-sky and how my “pessimism” is actually sometimes pragmatism, context, a reality check. And we talked about how to be cognizant of that dynamic between us as we worked together.

        It really did help me be aware of how I frame my contributions to work and how I come across.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Ever since years ago when management at an old job announced an initiative to provide “dazzling customer service,” I have definitely thought more pessimists are needed at high levels. (I thought it before, but this really drove it home for me.)

          FTR, we did not work somewhere that such an initiative even made sense. It was for a government contract, for healthcare. Mainly working with busy medical professionals.

      2. Bruce*

        I’ve heard about some corporations giving pre-interview tests that seem very suspect, with questions that pose unlikely scenarios where there is no good answer. I’m an old guy near retirement so I wonder about these more in the context of my kids and my step kids, who are all still finding their way as young adults. I don’t know what I’ll tell them if they encounter one of these sketchy tests and ask me about them…

    2. Ama*

      The ONE time I have taken an assessment at work that I found useful it was a test focused on communication styles and it came with a workshop where we talked about the differences in people who favored one type of style over another. It was actually pretty interesting to learn that certain colleagues who I had had some communication issues with were basically the exact opposite preferences to myself and knowing that did help smooth future discussions with them. But yes that only worked because we had all worked together for quite some time.

      I’ll also note that we did not discuss people’s exact results as a group, those were discussed with people individually by the workshop facilitator (who did not share the results with our bosses or coworkers) and we only had to disclose as much as we were comfortable with in the workshop, which I also think helped.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        We did Meyers Briggs tests as a group at a small nonprofit I worked at many years ago and i had a similar experience – a colleague who drove me nuts a lot of the time was the literal opposite profile to me. Over the time I worked there I was able to see how some of her strengths were really valuable to the organization and the work that we did even if the made working with her somewhat difficult for me, and the test results were part of making that mental shift for me. So it was a useful outcome because it gave me a way to think about the different things we each brought to the team, even if the test itself is questionable.

        (I’m a very analytical, organized person. I’d ask her what seemed to me to be a straightforward question about, e.g. a board member and get a rambling answer that detoured through what that Board member’s prior job had been and how they knew this other person and who they went to grad school with and the person who had that spot on the board in the past before circling around to the answer I needed. Drove me insane, but our work revolved around networks of community leaders and the mental map she had about people and relationships in the community was invaluable.)

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      Yes, I always say in these discussions that I have not used any personality tests but do use a learning styles test, which is also not exactly scientific, with my students and honestly, the value isn’t in seeing the results, which are something highly accurate and sometimes completely inaccurate, but rather in the students’ response. One of the best responses I got was from a student with learning difficulties who, on learning he was a kinaesthetic learner said, “yes, that’s exactly it. The teacher will be telling me how to do something and I just want to say, ‘just let me try it and I’ll figure it out,” but I don’t understand their instructions.”

      It can both let the student see that it’s not that they are “stupid” or “bad at x subject.” It’s just that there are different ways of learning and some teaching isn’t right for them and can also give me some insight into what might help students, but with the latter, it is as much their response that tells me that as their result because some get a result and are like “um, no.”

      1. Bruce*

        In your case you are engaging with the student and learning about them, before she retired my wife used to put a lot of effort into 1-1 testing for reading and it made a difference for kids that had learning issues. So please accept my applause!

      2. Reba*

        Unfortunately learning styles are also something of a persistent educational myth. But it sounds like you are getting productive discussions out of it at the least!

      3. Michelle Smith*

        Correct, learning styles testing is not scientific and is equally mumbo jumbo and should not be required in the workplace.

    4. ferrina*

      Exactly this.
      My favorite use of a ‘personality test’ was when my team did a “What Hogwarts House Are You?” It wasn’t take seriously, but the results were hilarious. Most of the team were Ravenclaws- made sense, we work in a field where studiousness and attention to detail are key. But the two top managers were Slytherins. These were the two people that were constantly dealing with internal politics and dealing with VP Drama of the Week (we worked at a start-up with a combo of fail-fast and never-wrong mentalities). It made a lot of sense that the two cutthroat Slytherins were able to navigate the senior leadership’s ineptitude and egos. We all had a laugh-cry that Slytherins were needed to ensure we had basic resources for our job.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I totally faked my Hogwarts test because I wanted so badly to be Gryffindor. I could tell pretty easily which answers would sway my results Gryffindor-wise so I gave those answers even if they might not be exactly accurate. I’m probably really a Ravenclaw too but I’ll never retake the test honestly to find out!

          1. Elle*

            This is hilarious. I lied on this test to try to get Hufflepuff, and was put into Slytherin.

            Answering honestly got me into the Self Important Good Guy Club (Gryffindor). Sigh.

        1. Sharpie*

          Isn’t that basically what Harry did with “Not Slytherin, not Slytherin…” during the Sorting Hat scene in the first film.

    5. Naomi*

      Also, the kind of test you describe has value-neutral results. That is, while it might be useful to know if someone is a visual vs. aural learner, neither type is inherently better or worse. I think the worst part of the test OP describes is how judgmental the results are, based on very sparse information about the test-taker. MBTI may not have much scientific weight to it, but at least it doesn’t claim any particular result makes you a bad person.

  5. K8T*

    Unfortunately – the trick to these is to not be honest if you are ND/depressed/anxious etc.
    Same thing is an application asks if you have reliable transportation to work – the answer is always “yes” even if that’s not currently true. Employers absolutely use these as an excuse to screen out people.

    1. Butterfly Counter*

      This was going to be my response as well. Answer as though you have never had a thought or care in the world other than making your boss and company happy. You live to work and have no other hobbies, passions, or interests. “Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!”

        1. Bruce*

          Have either of you encountered a test that has weird scenarios with no good answer? Like a trolley problem question, or some other life and death scene? I’m way past that in my career, but I’m wondering what my young ones will be dealing with

          1. Pizza Rat*

            All the time. It’s one of the things that frustrate me the most about these tests. I stare at the choices and none of them are what I’d do. “Pick the closest one,” is useless if I want to be honest.

            1. TechWorker*

              Yea and it also makes me think the results are even MORE bullshit if I had to essentially random pick 70% of the answers. The company that provides what my company uses is like ‘you can only take the test once because we believe the answers are immutable’ but also I bet they don’t let you do it twice cos they’d have to give wildly varying results.

            2. UKDancer*

              Oh yes, this annoys me. I hate the ones that ask “would you rather go to a loud party and talk to lots of people or sit on your own with a book and a cocoa” to try and decide if you’re introverted or extroverted. I’m always thinking, does the party have good food? Who else is there and do I like them? Was I out the previous nights ? What else is going on? Is it a good book? Is it raining and are the trains running to get me back after the party?

              I don’t know how people can answer so categorically when I always think it depends what my frame of mind is and what else is happening.

              1. Sharpie*

                Do I know the people at this party? Are we going to be talking over really loud music? Is the party at someone’s house or at a social club or similar? What’s the food situation? Will I come away with a pounding headache?

                SO many questions that a realistic answer depends on!

              2. Worldwalker*

                I wouldn’t.

                No kidding. And even with the same party and same book, my answer would be different on different days.

              3. Modesty Poncho*

                This was a large part of my autism diagnosis. There was a question like that on my questionnaire about (I think) if I would rather go on a date or to a party.

                Well, with whom? A blind first date vs. a board game night with friends is a hell of a different scenario than dinner with my boyfriend of 15 years vs a raging kegger where I don’t know anyone! It’s just impossible to answer the question without more context!

                The degree to which my brain got stuck on this and tried to refuse to answer was really all the answer the diagnostic specialist needed on that one.

                1. tree frog*

                  You’re making me wonder if this is why I was so bad at standardized tests in high school, even though I did really well on tests created by the teacher. I got extremely stuck on trying to interpret the questions.

          2. MsM*

            Not in the hiring process, no. Or at least not divorced from real-world context (e.g. “Tell me about how you handled a situation with no obviously right solution”). If you do, though, then I think you just have to weigh “I’m going to give what I consider the best answer, and if they don’t like it, this isn’t the right place for me” versus “I think this is the right answer based on what I know of this company, and I’m just going to have to hope I’ve read the interviewer right.”

      1. Anony for this*

        Well, no, there are questions designed to ascertain if you’re lying.

        I remember in my college psychology study days, when I had to awkwardly pull aside the sophomore taking my report to say that I know that “have you ever been constipated?” was meant to find liars, but I have IBS, so at that time I had genuinely never had constipation. (As an older and more nuanced person, today I’d just put “yes”.)

        So if it asks if you have ever had depression, put the answer that is low enough to make a reader say “well yes everyone gets sad sometimes” but not “this is suspiciously low”.

        1. BubbleTea*

          … I don’t have IBS and have not, to my knowledge, ever been constipated. I think rather than liars, that question is inadvertently screening for vegetarians.

          1. Ally McBeal*

            I was constipated a couple months ago – it was the first time ever and I’m mid-30s. I was so confused! It was not a pleasant experience, and the salty Gatorade they give you at Urgent Care is one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted (it did work though).

        2. sparkle emoji*

          That’s a really weird question to screen for liars, I don’t think a “no” answer from a 20 yo is that strange.

    2. K8T*

      Ugh did not mean to hit submit yet. To continue – for instance I have ADHD so am I easily distracted? Yes! I also am able to get back on course almost immediately but if a personality test for work asked that question, the answer is no, I am not easily distracted as there’s no room for nuance.

      1. Coffee Protein Drink*

        Also ADHD and I need to do the same thing with these quiz answers. There’s no answer that covers me like, “I can concentrate on something without getting distracted for a short period of time, but then I need a break to do something else because dopamine.”

        1. WriterDrone*

          And for me, I often have problems starting a task because of executive dysfunction but can also focus intensely on something until it is done due to hyperfocus. It’s not straightforward.

        2. Cyndi*

          I always pratfall when I get to questions about how organized vs. spontaneous I am, because I am GREAT at planning and budgeting and really enjoy doing those things, but struggle with actually following through on my to-do list or budget. Quizzes never make that distinction.

    3. Kelly L.*

      Some of them have no-win questions though! I remember long ago I applied to work at some convenience store and they gave me one of these. One of the questions (it was true/false) was “My personality doesn’t change much when I use drugs.”

      Obviously, that’s a “when did you stop beating your wife” kind of question. I asked them how I was meant to reply if I didn’t use drugs in the first place, and they had no idea! I don’t think they’d ever even read the damn thing.

      1. Ama*

        I took one once for a retail job in high school where the true/false had some that were like “I will always follow orders from my manager even when I don’t think they are morally correct.” Apparently I sunk myself by saying “false” to that one and this particular chain was looking for a score that indicated unquestioned obedience to authority.

        1. nopetopus*

          I was disqualified from the first job I ever applied for thanks to one of those. Getting rejected for Jack In The Box due my personality is now a a little personal badge of honor, haha.

        2. TooTiredToThink*

          I had one like that! I don’t remember the questions, but apparently the fact that I would go to the manager FIRST if I caught my coworker stealing was not the way to go about it. I was supposed to confront the co-worker myself.

        3. Ashley*

          There is so much range in a question like that. No I will not cover up murder or assault. Yes I may accept the manager lies about how many hours they spend doing some task when I am an entry level person just looking for a pay check.

        4. Sociology Rocks!*

          I remember taking something like this for a movie theater job one summer in college, and since they were still hiring I suggested my twin sister apply too. I’ll always be curious why I got a job and they didn’t reach out to her, especially since she’s generally the more outgoing of the two of us. One of my favorite jobs ever though, all the staff were genuinely the nicest people you’ve ever met in your life.

      2. Mr. Shortstop Reject*

        I had one like that too! The T/F question was “I have used drugs in the past, but it does not affect my work now.” I just gave it back to the interviewer without finishing. Surprisingly, I never heard back from Mr. Shortstop. :-)

        1. BubbleTea*

          What answer were they LOOKING for, I wonder? How do you distinguish between “false (I have never used drugs)” and “false (I have permanent damage from past drug use)”?

          1. Mr. Shortstop Reject*

            Others through the years have told me that the assumption is that *everyone* has used drugs in the past, so the correct answer is “True.” I think that’s pretty stupid, especially in a time and place where there was a relatively large population of very sheltered young people who wouldn’t have known how to get their hands on anything stronger than No-Doz even if they had wanted to.

            I mean, *I* wasn’t one of them, but I knew quite a few of them when I was in college there.

      3. Not a table*

        A personality test I had to take at work asked, on a scale of 1-5, “Do your coworkers think you are familiar and stable?”

        The question was probably asking how reliable my coworkers think I am.

        But it’s so poorly worded, it sounded like they were asking if my coworkers think of me as a table.

        Not surprisingly, it was one of the most useless personality tests I’ve taken at work.

        1. Sleve*

          5/5 – dining table
          4/5 – coffee table
          3/5 – bedside table
          2/5 – that folding table with the extending legs that lives under the old tent in your garage
          1/5 – actually a rocking chair

    4. ferrina*

      Exactly this. I answer employment “personality tests” with my mask on (I’m ADHD). I tell you who I present as, i.e., who you can expect to be working with. I approach it as “what you will see if you are a colleague who occasionally works with me and doesn’t know much about me”
      I don’t tell you who I am at home, who I am with my friends, or who I am to myself (I’m a lot meaner to myself than I would ever be to any of my colleagues….I’m working on being kinder to me!).

      1. oranges*

        I took one of those tests at work pre-ADHD diagnosis/medication, and I’d answer so many of the questions differently now.

        “Do you prefer short or long term projects?” Well, I could never focus on anything for more than 20 minutes back then, but now that my brain slowed down, I discovered I actually love the methodical process of a large, complex project with a far away deadline.

        Too bad they only let you take it once.

    5. Nia*

      Even neurotypical folks should be lying on these tests. There’s no benefit to being honest. Always choose what the employer wants to hear.

      1. Ashley*

        Present your work-self, not your personal-self is a key to success with many of these. I am only willing to go so far on some of the answers though because I am not an extrovert, and i can fake it well up to a point, but an all day everyday thing would not be good for me.

    6. Emma*

      I agree. The best advice I have received regarding those tests is to answer as your work self. Sometime they present a situation as it is happening in your personnal life and not your work life and someone can react very differently depending on the context. For example, the question ‘When you go on a trip during your vacation, do you prefer to plan every hour ahead or do you prefer to go and decide on the moment what you want to do?”. In my work life, a big part of my job is to plan and prepare. But when I go on vacation, I don’t plan anything and just let my mood decide what I’m gonna do (probably because I need a break from the constant planning). So I would just answer that I would prefer to plan everything ahead just as I do for my job.

      1. Worldwalker*

        And what about people who mix the two? Some of the most fun things I have done on trips have come from “this thing on the sign looks like fun; let’s go do that instead of what we planned.”

    7. lyonite*

      Exactly this. You aren’t under oath, and being honest isn’t necessarily going to do you any good. Tell the dumb test whatever you think it wants to know.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      The one upside of managers who are too unskilled to understand the personalities they manage without falling for hoax quiz products, is that they’re also too dumb to anticipate the obvious hack. Even answering the quiz as Perfect Polly is still a bit fraught and nerve wracking though. The hucksters who sold the quiz to your boss don’t care about providing a clear and obvious path through the danger; there’s often a few no-win questions thrown in for good measure. This way that the manager always feels like something juicy was uncovered.

    9. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      A big part of the problem with such tests is that much real life behaviour is full of nuances and if-then loops rather than 4 multiple-choice options

    10. MPerera*

      Sometimes any answer can disqualify you. When I was applying for migration to Canada, my BMI was very low, so I had to pay a clinical psychologist to check for an eating disorder. The psychologist asked if I had enough energy to get through my day. I said yes, which was true (I had a full-time job and volunteered in my spare time). The psychologist replied, “You know, denial is a symptom of anorexia.” Then she said she would schedule me to take the MMPI, which would cost me an additional $300. How that would help me get into Canada was unclear.

      I paid for a different psychologist and got the visa.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Wow, what a story. Especially since BMI is a crock, anyway! I’m sorry that happened to you, and glad you found another, more sane psychologist to work with.

    11. Orv*

      I’ve always wondered about those diversity questions where they ask if you have a disability. On the one hand saying yes might get you discriminated against, on the other hand it seems like it might work in your favor if they have a quota to meet?

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        They don’t have quotas like that in the US

        That information is not the same as personality tests that are being discussed here

  6. Harper the Other One*

    I think it was a commenter here who described this stuff as corporate astrology, and I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. But this goes WAY beyond my distaste for things like DiSC. And it puts new employees in an awful position because of course you don’t feel comfortable saying “I’m not answering these questions.”

  7. Adam*

    Oof this was a ROUGH read. I agree, these shouldn’t be part of the hiring process. Personality tests are a mixed bag at best, and really should only be used by trained professionals ON THE POPULATION THEY WERE TESTED ON. Many personal tests for example have biases in the language that favor those form western cultures, rendering the test and by proxy the results useless from those who aren’t of white, European decent. This is mortifying way to start a job. My heart goes out to the writer.

    1. Annie*

      Agree with this- so many of these tests aren’t generalized very well and the “big companies” advertising them are very irresponsible with how they describe their uses. It’s gross.

    2. Zap R.*

      Yeah, I remember attending a DEI seminar where Chinese immigrants to Canada shared their experiences in the Canadian corporate world. Their main complaint was that they were socialized to be quiet and deferential in meetings out of respect to their superiors but Canadian managers interpreted this as introversion, shyness, or a lack of confidence and subsequently wrote them off as not leadership material.

  8. HR Friend*

    OP if you take the job and if you stay a while & earn the capital, I’d encourage you to push for the owners to stop giving personality tests to future candidates, for all the reasons you list. Doesn’t help you, but could help many people in your position down the road!

  9. Ms. Difficult to Supervise*

    Ah, this letter brought back…..memories…. My first job out of college, I must have taken the same test as the results showed (at least the ones the manager wanted to highlight) I was gullible, complacent and difficult to supervise.

    Looking back on 30+ years of a successful career with increasing levels of responsibility, after obtaining 2 advanced degrees and professional certifications, I can say with confidence – yes, I am difficult to supervise :-)

    what a crock!

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I’ve always thought “gullible” is a weird thing to be ashamed of. I’ve never sent money to Nigerian princes, but in general I assume that other people are honest and don’t spend a lot of time trying to catch them out in a lie. Two people who don’t look alike can be siblings. There are hundreds of people who went to high school with X celebrity. Sometimes there is a spider on your shirt or the word gullible really is written on the ceiling, and it’s not like you lose anything by checking!

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Ashamed of, no. But there are jobs where being skeptical and highly critical of assumptions is really key (like in investigations).

      2. Minimal Pear*

        The word “gullible” was written on the ceiling in one of the science classrooms at my middle school because the teacher wanted to make a point about checking!

        1. MigraineMonth*

          This was true of a classroom in my middle school. I thought it was hilarious and told the classmate sitting next to me; it took five minutes and me closing my eyes before he’d look.

  10. PB&J*

    I once took a test prior to employment; it was to access honesty and accountability. The job was as an employee of a family-owned jewelry store. When they hired me, I was not surprised as I assumed I aced the stupid test. After a couple months, they told me that my results indicated I was “highly likely” to steal and “feel no remorse” for my actions. They said they hired me because they were desperate to fill the job; I needed the paycheck or I would have quit on the spot.
    (In case you’re wondering, I have NEVER stole even a crouton from someone, and if I bump into a shopper at a store, I apologize so much they end up running away.)
    I have since refused to participate in tests of this nature (looking at you, Myers-Briggs).

    1. Overit*

      I shopped so often at a craft store, the manager suggested I work there. I applied and the app inc a personality test, after which I was immediately rejected. Okay, whatever.
      Next time the manager told me to apply, I told her what happened. She asked if I had answered the questions about theft by saying I would not steal. Well..yes?
      “Oh that was the problem. The tests are set up to assume everyone steals. if you say that you do not steal, the test assumes you are lying and therefore are a BIG thief and are immediately rejected. If you answer 1 question saying you will steal, you will get hired.”

  11. Heidi*

    I’ve never heard of a personality test like this. Most of the ones I’ve seen are cautious about saying anything that could be perceived as a flaw. The language is more like, “You find confrontation challenging,” rather than “You’re a doormat.” I guess in the end doing the job and being professional is the best way to combat any perceptions people might have based on the test.

    1. Myrin*

      Right? I’m astounded at the outright aggressiveness of all of these results – they’re not even trying to sugarcoat it!

    2. MsSolo (UK)*

      The questions cited and the bluntness of the response is reminding me of the Scientology personality tests, which are designed to sell you on ‘courses’ to fix the flaws. I would proceed with immense caution, and be especially alert for attempts to solve the ‘problems’ rather than acknowledge OP’s reality-based history of not having them.

      1. ferrina*

        Yikes! You might be right!

        I’ve also never seen a personality test that was so aggressively insulting. Like commentor Heidi, everything I’ve seen tries to keep things neutral, presenting a balance of strengths and weaknesses and often hedging language like “You may….” or “Some people with this trait…..” etc.

      2. Keyboard Cowboy*

        Didn’t someone write in a while ago about how their boss/coworker wanted to use a Dianetics test to determine work personalities? Sounds like the same workplace :P

      3. Lukraak_sisser*

        I thought the same, I took one of those for a lark during my college years and according to that test I was insecure, unable to make any clear life decisions and about to become totally depressed. (But they had a 100 euro course I could take)
        When I laughed at them the tester got mad and said I’d come crawling back to them once my life was in shambles.
        That’s over 30 years ago and well… I’m still not a member

      4. Sparkles McFadden*

        That would makes sense. Any personality tests I’ve seen at work or in management training have used non-judgmental language in the results report. Some of them give responses that are open to fortune-cookie-levels of interpretation, This sounds like something else entirely.

    3. MigraineMonth*

      I wonder if there are any “good” results from this test. Does it tell every test-taker that they’re either a doormat or bull-headed? Lazy or neurotic? Basically, is this a personality test, or a personality *flaws* test?

      1. cloudy*

        The test my workplace made us take for a “staff retreat” a year ago was kind of like this. The online version of the test essentially led to the “opportunity” to purchase self-help books or career/life coach flavored consulting. The “training” was super contradictory and my coworkers were not shy about challenging it and pointing it out, so I have no idea who okayed the activity. Someone on a committee somewhere I suppose.

        Specifically the test in question told me I would never actually be satisfied in life and would always feel out of place and alone… or something like that. Thanks, I guess…???? (I’m doing fantastic actually).

    4. Roberta*

      yeah, I have had to take two for work, and they always put things as neutrally as possible. “prefers to tackle challenges head on” v. “prefers to sit back and observe before making a decision” etc. any personality test that uses “neurotic” in any capacity is not worth its time.

      1. sparkle emoji*

        There are actual psychological tests that use the term neurotic, but that’s because it has a psych-specific meaning that differs from how most people use it, same with terms like arousal or reliability. This test sounds like a mess, but neuroticism in a psych context isn’t a red flag.

        1. Sleve*

          It’s one of the ‘Big Five’ personality traits. Neurotic in that context means ‘takes a long time to process negative emotions and feels them strongly’. However, any personality test that applies it is almost certainly using it in the ‘Chihuahua with a Prozac prescription’ sense. Even supposedly scientific tests often get it wrong though; because if a person feels their emotions rapidly and strongly but also processes them quickly and returns to their original mood, they have all of the benefits of healthy emotional stability and a low neuroticism score, however they will actually score artificially highly on many scientific tests due to the speed at which their emotions change. An emotionally healthy person with ADHD is the classic example of this.

  12. I should really pick a name*

    When I had appointments, I often made up my hours instead of using sick leave.

    Nothing wrong with taking this approach if it’s what you choose, but there’s also nothing wrong with using sick leave.

    1. badger*

      this! That’s always been my habit too (because my first “real job” out of college very much had that as their culture, as in, if you’re only working 40 hours a week you’re not working hard enough). The result of that culture? going to work sick or fretting about when I’m going to make up the hours enough that I don’t get the rest I need to get better.

      But I’ve been reading this blog long enough to know it’s part of the compensation package and it should be encouraged to use it. It is not a good thing to go to work sick or work yourself into the ground. My boss sets an excellent example and once gently chastised me for logging on when I was supposed to be on vacation.

    2. Michelle Smith*

      If the person has limited leave options, it can be worth it to make up the appointments. I’ve been using sick leave for my doctor’s appointments, of which there have been way more than usual over the past year. But that does mean that if I get COVID or the flu or any number of illness that would take me out for a few days, I’ll potentially have to dip into vacation time to cover it.

    3. Dek*

      Yeah, that kind of popped out at me too. It’s not really the point here, but you earned that sick leave and appointments are what it’s for.

  13. Phony Genius*

    I don’t understand what the company is gaining with this. They aren’t using it to make hiring decisions. I wonder if the low-level managers even care about their employees’ results.

  14. Just another person*

    This is horrifying!
    I’ve been asked to take two different personality tests in the past week by two different companies, after never being asked to complete one for a job before. Is this becoming more common? It needs to not be, for sure.

    1. Just another person*

      Also this is before interviewing, and in one case even before the initial screening call. I don’t know how this is even useful because my responses are what I think they want to hear, not how I really feel. I don’t know these people!

    1. amoeba*

      But even Cosmo quizzes tend to be formulated in a much more positive way (like, basically everybody gets something positive)! Who even thought of that insulting nonsense? Like, it almost reads like a prank thing, like those “inverted fortune cookies” that basically just contain insults!

    2. Gracie*

      This morning, I and some coworkers took today’s Google Doodle personality test, which is “what element are you (and what other elements do you bond with)”. It’s 100% more useful than half of these corporate personality tests because at least I got some scientific knowledge out of it!

  15. Annie*

    As an organizational psychologist who knows how some of these tests are designed, they can be AWFUL! The big companies (DiSC, Hogan, etc.) often promise employers “valuable insights” into employee and job candidate personalities, but without getting into the “grey area” of the actual circumstances these tests might be helpful. For that reason, I tend to generalize all workplace personality tests as a no-go. Companies use these tests thinking they are ahead of the curve and that they are enhancing some part of the selection process.

    If companies don’t dedicate all their resources to a full understanding of these tests (which can be accomplished through hiring a trained professional with experience), they are better off not using the tests at all. They add very little value and in many cases such as this one, are harmful. This LW is probably better off going in a different direction.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      In recruitment, and I concur – most of them are garbage. The ones that aren’t are very broad in their assessments, to the point of not always being useful. (I have literally seen feedback that was along the lines of “possibly will be too assertive” and “possibly will be too reticent to provide their opinion when needed”. How on earth is that helpful to anyone?! Those are diametric opposites!!)

      Factor in things like the possibility to differently interpret questions from what the test designer meant, cultural differences, communications styles, whether a person is having a good or bad day, unintended (or intended) biases to the test – well, I’m not a believer in these “tools” – certainly not for hiring decisions.

      Of course, I’m totally biased – I don’t like my candidates to get knocked out of consideration because a psych test indicates that they might be challenging in some respect.

      That said, the ONLY time I have seen psychological tests like this be useful is when they are used to generate specific interview questions tailored to the individual – ie. when a well-developed test is used to CONTRIBUTE to the hiring process (ie. NOT to make the hiring decision or knock a candidate out of consideration). Eg. if a test comes back with a result that the person may struggle to handle multiple, competing priorities, you can then ask an interview question about how the person has or would handle that situation and see what you think of their answer.

    2. Random Bystander*

      Even with the trained professional, it can be pretty awful. Several years ago, the department I was with did a MBTI with people trained to interpret/administer (I’m a little fuzzier now, time has passed) the test and discuss what this all meant. Well, unsurprisingly, I came out such a strong “I” (introvert) that all 30 questions that touched on introversion were answered as the introvert response. Really, the test came out the same way it always has.

      So the day came when they were having the department meeting to discuss the results, what it meant for working with each other, etc. The facilitators (the outside “experts”) had set up the room, and instead of having the usual set up, they had set up the tables so they were kind of at an angle so you had to zigzag to get to the seats in the middle, and they had set up where we were to sit (place names on the seats). I was positioned almost as close to the center of the room as possible. I ended up leaving partway through the presentation because I had a panic attack about being in this position and put on the spot with a public response to a question.

      Note: even though I am probably the most extreme introvert ever, I am a lector at Mass at church (meaning I am getting up in front of a lot of people to read, which many people say that they would never have the nerve to do).

      Well, I did manage to get back in to part of the event, to see video presentations that were supposed to illustrate the difference between an introvert/extrovert and other videos for each of the other letter pairs. It was clearly nonsense, because to show the I/E difference, they showed two people who were supposedly in a work-related meeting, and the “extrovert” kept pausing the meeting to take phone calls and being all chatty with whoever called, and the “introvert” kept saying “maybe we should re-schedule this meeting” and finally the “introvert”‘s phone rang, he looks at it (like to see what was on caller id), and then sets the phone down. “Extrovert” says “aren’t you going to answer that?” “Introvert” says, “no, it can wait; let’s finish our meeting” … end video. Sorry, no, that is not the difference between an introvert and an extrovert, that is the difference between a polite person and a rude person.

      We also had segments where they divided the group into three parts–turns out that it was strongly expressed [letter], strongly expressed [other letter], and weakly expressed. Still remember the one they did for the introvert/extrovert. “You come home from work and your SO tells you you’ve been invited to a party tonight. What is your response? What do you do after you get there?” Well, it was a pretty decent illustration–the extrovert group was all logistics “who’s going to watch the kids” and excited about the party. Others in the introvert group were all “I’m not going to be thrilled, but I’ll do my best to get through it”. Versus my answer: What is my response? “**** no; I won’t go.” What do I do after I get there? What part of “**** no, I won’t go” did you not understand? There is no “after I get there” because I won’t be there. Like I said, I am an introvert, and after a whole day of working (back in office days), I am too spent to consider a party.

  16. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

    “It’s a tiny family-owned company.”

    Oh my god, OP. I’m suprised Alison didn’t flag this, but RUN! Run like Jason Vorhees is chasing you with a barrel of bees.

    1. Brain the Brian*

      I disagree. A tiny, family-owned company probably just got advice from their friends that they should use this test, and they might well look at the results and also decide they are useless. Plenty of family-owned companies treat their employees very well.

      1. Dave*

        Having worked in a said place like this and with an owner who has gone through phases of personality testing it can be a toss up. Boss had me raising questions, and as a chief implementer dragging their feet on doing much with them, until a few years later when they get excited about it again. It does speak to the owner though that they want to put stock in them form my experience.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I mean yeah they might, if all goes very luckily to plan, but equally they might go running to the same friends for terrible advice the very next time the need for a routine management skill pops up. There are plenty of nice, well meaning people who can do plenty of harm in the management pilot seat simply because they never learned to how to fly.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          So for me, the “I’ll forgive this as a one off and an honest mistake” bar would involve the hiring manager acknowledging that the test results contained insults and were a character assassination. I’d want to hear something like “Obviously this result is absolute nonsense and I don’t want you to waste another thought on it”.

  17. Pillow Fort Forever*

    Oh OP, I feel for you. It’s a ridiculous ask from the company and the results are nonsensical but certainly disconcerting. I passionately hate all this sort of stuff in the workplace – even left a company after the awful CEO had his wife, a therapist in training, decide to administer a form of this. Completely understand going thru with the job however and fingers crossed this is an outlier in your experience with them. All the best to you!!

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      OMG the ETHICS of that. Oh I’m trying to be a therapist let me practice on the people who depend on my spouse for their paycheck. OMG.

  18. mango chiffon*

    Does anyone have thoughts on the Clifton Strengths finder? I’ve seen this used for workplace team building sessions and such. It’s not quite the level of doing an online meyers briggs test, and the context is different than starting a new job. BUT it is essentially a “personality” test about where someone’s strengths may be

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      No. As in no personality test should be used in the workplace without a trained professional to evaluate the results and only with the informed consent of employees.

    2. Heidi*

      I did this once. I think it’s similar to other personality inventories in that it can only reflect what you believe about yourself without any external validation, so it’s accuracy depends on how self aware the test-taker is. I knew someone whose strengths included attention to detail, but they made little mistakes all the time.

      1. ferrina*

        This is the problem with a lot of these. They can tell you about the test-takers mindset, but they don’t tell you about the real-world application.
        And the danger with a self-guided strengths assessment is the Dunning-Kruger Effect

        1. Anon for this*

          So, I am going to my second training about my Clifton Strengths results tomorrow morning. (Part of some leadership training.) Nothing was a big surprise to me – They only give your top 5 strengths, and I would be more interested in the next 5, but am not interested in giving the Clifton people $50.

          My manager is also in the training, and he is one of the least self-aware people I’ve ever reported to. I know his strength is “Influencer,” which is kind of funny to me, but also makes sense, as he’s terrible at all the other main categories.

          It’s not terrible, but some of the questions are suspect, and more than one person pointed out in our last session that you often find yourself choosing “neutral” on questions where you feel equally strongly about the answers. (And the options often aren’t mutually exclusive, which weird at best.)

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I will say I found Strengths Finder interesting and insightful for *myself*. But for “team building” – frankly, unless you gave me a cheat sheet with everyone’s “top 5” and I kept a copy of the book in my desk to look up how the terms apply in practice, I’m not going to remember any of it (as applies to my coworkers) five minutes from now.

        1. cottagechick73*

          I literally forgot what the letters of my Briggs-Meyer test even meant a few minutes of leaning the results. I am sure the rest of the group I was with did too. You would need to memorize the book to keep all of the letters and their meaning straight and how they supposedly interact with each other – just boo on these personality tests.

          1. Anon for this*

            All I can remember is that someone shared a link to MBTI and your “animal.” I am an octopus. So, I have that in common with Nathan Fillion in “Resident Alien.” (A show which has helped me understand some of my coworkers better. They are clearly aliens in disguise who crash-landed on Earth.)

      1. iglwif*

        Same. I had to take it at a previous job and I remember finding it interesting at the time. But that’s literally all I remember about the results.

        Current employer is big into DiSC … but they don’t seem to do anything with the results, so I just shrug and laugh.

        1. Autofill Contact*

          We did DiSC at a place based leadership training I was in and then had us separate into quadrants. THEN they had everyone go stand by the quadrant they would LEAST like to work with. You better believe I held a f*ing grudge against the anti-I people for the rest of the year we were in the training.

    4. Puzzled2219*

      They are different, because a personality test (like Myers-Briggs) or a Cosmo-like test (in OP’s example) are claiming to assess your personality—the more so-called immutable parts of who you are. A strengths finding assessment is aimed at finding out what you’re already proficient in so then (hopefully) you know what you can work on. So I think assessing your skills is different than assessing your personality, especially when the personality tests weren’t meant to be used in a work context, and often include items irrelevant to the workplace.

      1. Heidi*

        The Strengths coach I met with after my test said that I’m not supposed to try to work on gaining new strengths because they aren’t my inherent strengths. Rather, I’m supposed to find work that utilizes my existing strengths and build teams with people who bring in strengths I don’t have. Or something like that.

        1. Distracted Procrastinator*

          holy crackers, that person is nuts and bad at their job. Not supposed to learn and grow? what?

          1. Heidi*

            I don’t think it was that, exactly. You can learn and grow utilizing your exisiting strengths (I’m a Learner, after all), but there’s no point in my trying to become Woo because that’s just not me. The strengths you don’t have are not considered weaknesses in this framework.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              That’s frankly ridiculous to anyone who understands basic pedagogic theories. Everyone is capable of building new skills and everyone learns those new skills by bonding new items of knowledge to something they already know (like if you learn the words of a new language you pair it to the words of your own, like “Bonjour means hello”). This isn’t advice from someone used to teaching or training in any practical sense, but then no good teacher would base their entire assessment of a person off a questionnaire.

              1. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

                I think to some extent Strength Finders also helps identify natural inclination and preferences rather than “skills”. So it’s not so much that you *can’t* learn new strengths, more that you don’t need to beat yourself up if you’re not enthusiastic about nurturing certain aspects. To use Heidi’s example of Woo, I immediately distrust the Woo people. I do not score high in Woo. It is not a failing on my part if I don’t want to *become* Woo. I can instead lean into the things I am good at and value.
                (I do like Strength Finder and found it very helpful, particularly as it revealed to me that my values were completely out of sync with my employer at the time. A good signal to move on.)

                1. Cyndi*

                  Asking purely for personal use–do you think Strengths Finder would be at all informative to someone looking to work on skills that they value highly but don’t have aptitude for?

              2. BigLawEx*

                I disagree with this. I did the test, then did a podcast interview with a coach who has a Ph.D. in education as well as a certified coach. What she said, with which I agree, is we as an American society spend far too much time trying to be jacks-of-all-trades. If people focused on their strengths, I think they and we’d be better off. I’m not saying don’t learn addition or subtraction or how to tell time, but developing strengths is more beneficial than bolstering weaknesses.

              3. N.J.*

                It’s not that you can’t work on weaknesses, it’s that a lot of how we approach work and life is already biased towards telling people “you lack this skill/your are bad at x” you have to do everything possible to fix that weakness. The value I found in Strengthsfinder was that it identified what you are already good at/your strongest traits/the skills you have, and shifted the mindset to leading with your strengths versus spending all your energy fixing your deficits.

            2. hales*

              “ The strengths you don’t have are not considered weaknesses in this framework.” – thank you for this reminder! I just took the StrengthsFinder test as part of an interview process and my “lack of executing skills” was cited as one of the reasons they didn’t want to move forward with a second round interview (which was fine by me because the ill fit was mutual), but that phrasing did sting a bit.

    5. Engineer*

      I took it at my job. I did exactly the same thing I do for every other personality test ever given to me – bland, middle of the road responses. When we got together as a group to discuss results and learn how it’s all good things, really, here’s all the wonderful things each personality aspect brings forward, there wasn’t a single result that took me by surprise. Of course our Marketing Director is high in Woo. Of course our Department Manager is high Command and Strategic. Of course the department that focuses on analysis will have many people scoring high in executing strengths.

      It ain’t anything new, just gussied up with fancier words.

    6. Constance Lloyd*

      I really like reading about the 34 strengths and using them as framework for how different people approach things. I do not need to know someone’s Top 5 to ask them things like how they want to approach a group project, so I don’t think these tests should be used in the workplace. And I say this as someone who has been trained by Clifton to train others to use the test results.

    7. jane's nemesis*

      I’ve taken StrengthsFinder a couple times (paid version), and I find it useful for myself personally. I used some of the language of things I’m strong on – that I agreed with – and added it to my resume & cover letter, just found that an easier way to brag on myself than trying to come up with things I’m good at on my own.

      I usually found the results pretty accurate for what I’m good at vs. what I could develop/work on. Knowing my colleague’s strengths was less crucially useful, but could sometimes help me contextualize ways we could work well together.

  19. Kelly*

    My last toxic, hellhole small business employer made us do personality tests when we were hired on our own time. We were never given the results and it was never spoken of despite the “promise” we would have a meeting about it. I now see these as a red flag to alert me for other signs of dysfunction in an employer. They’re not helpful and are often harmful.

    We did one at a summer camp I worked at the results said I was extremely introverted to the point of not being able to tell people I loved them. Not exactly what I wanted my coworkers to think about me and it definitely set us off on the wrong foot. The leader of the camp tried to fire me for my disability and let my coworkers abscond with the one mobility device we had on campus, leaving me to walk in severe pain for up to 1/4 mile at a time. Definitely a place with poor judgement.

    1. Autofill Contact*

      My last toxic job in a small, isolated department (so more like a small business) also had us take personality tests and then never once referenced them. The one we did incorporated all kinds elements of the standard tests. Perhaps if I’d seen everyone else’s results I would have understood why they were all bananapants.

    2. Chirpy*

      I’ve done Meyer-Briggs twice at a summer camp. The first time was all right, it was interesting to know what percentage of the staff was introverts/ extroverts to better understand how to work together with different types.

      The second was a trash fire, despite being led by the same person, because he told everyone who was who, and it caused some weird divisions (he was an extrovert, and most of the leadership that year were the same type as him, and it exacerbated things. )

  20. Maple Leaf*

    If you do as Allison suggests about trying to put the test to the side right at the beginning to prove your work self, and they are still “side-eying” you and your work/ethic, I would raise Allison’s last point about being open to feed back. And if they then reference the tests, I would point out that they are not work specific tests (per Allison: I looked at the test they gave you, and it doesn’t mention anything indicating it’s designed for use in employment contexts. It talks about taking it with a friend, family member, or romantic partner. They essentially gave you a Cosmo quiz.).

  21. junior*

    I guess this was … 7 years ago?
    My husband was applying for a job where a friend worked. He had to take one of these quizzes. He had the same experience, his score was so abysmal, that the company called the vendor of the personality quiz, assuming that something went wrong. No, he just scored that ‘low’.
    My husband is the hardest-working, kindest, most intelligent person I know, and having worked from home with him for 4 years now, I know exactly what kind of employee (and manager) he is. They did not move forward, and my husband was very jaded with the company afterwards.

    If I thought those quizzes were bunk before, now I think they are actively destructive. They are discriminatory (guess who is more likely to score poorly?), inaccurate, and misleading.

    LW – I hope that your new employer acts intelligently regarding these results, and that it’s a good fit for you.

    1. junior*

      I almost forgot – my company actually requires one of these stupid quizzes prior to hiring. We were purchased by VC, and they’ve required all hires since take one of these quizzes. Fortunately, we pushed back – we couldn’t remove the requirement to take the quiz, but we don’t use it in any hiring decisions – we don’t even view the results. However, we have still lost good candidates who refuse to take the quiz at all (with good reason).

    2. ferrina*

      He failed a personality test? That….isn’t how it’s supposed to work. Did they think he doesn’t have a personality?

      1. junior*

        Iirc, he scored very low – like the LW, he was labeled lazy, self-centered, and introverted (which like, how is that negative??). His score was so outside of the normal bounds, that they contacted the company that conducted the test.

        He has a personality, just the wrong one? I dunno, it was wild.

        Also, the test doesn’t reflect his personality at all, and clearly doesn’t reflect his work ethic, as he’s been highly regarded in every role he’s ever had.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        LOL — fell out of my chair laughing at this one. Sorry Bob, can’t hire you, apparently you have no personality whatsoever.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I am literally laughing out loud at the thought of that. I know it wasn’t very funny for junior’s husband, but honestly, it sounds like he dodged a bullet.

          1. junior*

            For us, it was hilarious. He’d been recruited to apply by this company, and I don’t think he would have taken the role anyway. But if he didn’t already have a great job? I could see it going much differently.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        Hi Mr Junior, our tests show you aren’t Like Us, (or even wearing the finest tailoring in invisible clothes) so we’re going to pass on you and continue hiring our own clones/accidental test results. Toodles!

    3. I Have RBF*

      …now I think they are actively destructive. They are discriminatory (guess who is more likely to score poorly?), inaccurate, and misleading.


      I have had real cognitive tests in a medical environment. I spotted the similarities and the problems in some of the sample workplace cognitive and personality tests I was given, to the point where I knew they would trip on my disabilities.

      I brought it up to the HR person at the company that was hiring, but they said “everybody has to take the tests”. I took them, and was not called back. I was not even surprised.

  22. ForestHag*

    That second test sounds like one I was required to take as part of the application process for a job at a sister institution to the one I work at – same title, same skills/experience, SAME UNIVERSITY SYSTEM. It was for a mid-career technical analyst position. Normally, someone like me would be scooped up immediately by a sister school, but for some reason this school wanted their applicants to go through a really weird personality test that had similar questions (“Do you throw things when angry?” “Do you believe it’s okay to step on others to get head?”). None of the questions were actually related to the job itself. At the end of the survey, it asked “Do you believe this survey was a fair and accurate assessment of your skills and abilities?” I answered honestly because I was really fed up with the whole thing, and then I got an auto-rejection. Not sure what they were going for, but I considered it a bullet dodged. That was several years ago, so I really hope they’ve changed their hiring practices.

    I hope your new job works out okay, and that it’s at least tolerable until you can find something different, if that is what you need to do. Good luck!

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      “Do you believe it’s okay to step on others to get head?”

      I choose to believe that this is not a typo.

      1. Jam on Toast*

        There are people out there who pay good money for that sort of thing, at least according to Craigslist!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Still remember the Freshman Comp paper from my TA days with the following statement: “There are many ways to get head in this world.”

          Yes, yes there are, but not what the writer meant to convey.

  23. missnonny*

    These tests are such garbage! Allison, I’d love to see you talk more about these. There’s been a viral tweet talking about Olive Garden making dish washers take a 50 question personality test as part of the application process.

    1. Mockingjay*

      Maybe all those memes and opinion pieces on “No one wants to work anymore” should be replaced with “No one wants to apply anymore.”

      *shudders with flashback to the hour and a half “culture” interview I went through at ExToxicJob.

    2. Zephy*

      I had to take a 50-question “personality” test when I applied to work at a pet store. It was basically asking me 50 different ways if I thought it was OK to show up drunk and steal from my employer.

  24. Cruciatus*

    Mine wasn’t that awful…and I still hated it! I can’t imagine anything like what yours was! I work for a Fortune 500 company and had to complete a behavior analysis. It was things like “what words have people said about you” with a list of maybe 100 words from “stubborn” to “thoughtful” and everything in between. Then what words do you call yourself, and then you had to write a brief paragraph about yourself. And I found it difficult because people don’t go around describing me. I’ve never had anyone at work call me stubborn OR thoughtful (or whatever) so I had to just go with what seemed most appropriate. My supervisor later said she thinks they are interesting and tend to match up but my newest colleague had a bad analysis and I don’t think he’s anything like what it said! So it maybe can be useful but you don’t know when it’s right or when it’s wrong so…is that actually useful?

    1. A Frayed Know*

      If I had to list words people used to describe me, there would be a long list of what most people would call “unfavorable.” I’m an auditor. That’s just part of my job.

  25. Busy Middle Manager*

    Because “personality tests are bad” is becoming the MO, let’s unpack this:

    1) Not all tests are the same. The one you take at retail jobs that asks “did you ever steal” is not the same one you’re taking at other jobs. Took many low budget ones in the 2000s that were not great. That doesn’t mean all are bad and doesn’t mean the test is meaningless. For example if it asks “are you ever late’ and you are, and answer honestly, is that really a test issue?
    2) The Meyers Briggs one (the 16personalities ones) is accurate.
    3) Have taken the test at a job, had people get the personality type they are the walking embodiment of, and have them say the test is stupid. It’s a weird human reaction and doesn’t mean the test are all bad. People often push back when told something negative about themselves and while the Meyers Briggs frames everything in positive language, individuals may find some of their own real treats negative and thus find the test triggering.
    4) Most importantly, it’s what you do with the tests. Personally I used the meyer brigg results successfully to frame new projects to people. I have failed often before that, assuming other people were also motivated by what I was (truth seeking). Turns out some people actually want micromanaging, some people are driven purely by status, some people hate teams while others love group consensus. So you can take a test or do trial and error for years to figure out how everyone works

    As per your case, everyone is aghast and saying the test is “horrifying.” But as usual, they gave you a glimpse into what they want. If you are blue at times, and they want someone who’s all smiles and happy happy, why do you want the job? It is a conflict. They’re telling you what they want via the test. I do backend software stuff and you can be depressed and moody all day here and no one cares. So there will be jobs that actually fit your mood

    1. amoeba*

      “The Meyers Briggs one (the 16personalities ones) is accurate.”

      That’s a strong statement which, as far as I know, is not in agreement with what actual science says about it?

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      Myers-Briggs is not accurate. It is based in a layperson take on Jungian psychology of all things. It has poor test-retest reliability. Numerous analyses have been done to try to validate its use and it simply has no real support in clinical psychology.

    3. aebhel*

      The Myers-Briggs test is corporate astrology, lmao. Using it as a guideline for supervising people is going to be about as effective as making management decisions based on whether or not someone is a Leo. Besides. you can (and sensible people do) lie on personality tests.

      If you need to know specific things about someone’s work style, observe them and ask questions about those things.

    4. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Meyers-Briggs is NOT “accurate” as much as some people tend to love it. It’s very arbitrary, and has very little stability. Give the same test to the same person on different days and the results change.
      But it is a HUGE money maker so it’s proponents keep selling it to people, and gullible people keep buying…

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      Have taken the test at a job, had people get the personality type they are the walking embodiment of, and have them say the test is stupid.
      The test can still be stupid even if some people get accurate results. It’s not really possible to sum up a person’s personality from any test and these are mostly not scientific. Apart from anything else, they rely on the person having the self-awareness to answer accurately and many (I suspect most) people don’t. They also rely on people feeling comfortable enough to answer honestly. And that is assuming a test that is perfect.

      Also you can’t divide people up accurately into 4 or 6 or 8 categories. People are far more diverse than that.

      And then there is also listener/reader bias. Even if hypothetically, one could get a test that would have enough divisions to divide everybody up accurately and it was made by somebody infallible and everybody who took it had perfect self-awareness and was completely honest, some of those who heard the results would still interpret them incorrectly. Many people think introvert means “shy” or “lacking in confidence” for example and conversially that extrovert means confident, loud and outgoing. I have a friend who is ridiculously extroverted – she cannot conceive of anybody wanting to be alone even for a moment; if you say you are popping into a shop to get an ice cream, she’ll insist you wait for her because she thinks you couldn’t possible tolerate being alone – and she is also extremely shy and lacks confidence in herself.

      Assuming she got an accurate result, saying she was extremely extroverted, many people would assume that meant she was the exact opposite type of person to who she is.

      Nine out of ten sorting hat quizzes give me the result I am a walking embodiment of (weirdly, Pottermore was one of the rare exceptions) and yes, I still say that online tests, many of which are made up by 14 year olds, are silly. When people say a test is unscientific, they don’t necessarily mean they think their result is inaccurate or that they don’t like their result. They could love it and still be aware that the test is not testing for what it claims to and that it is just a game.

    6. FrivYeti*

      The Myers-Briggs test is, and I cannot stress this enough, racist, classist, sexist, ableist pseudoscience garbage. It has absolutely no scientific basis, it has promoted a wide range of incredibly incorrect beliefs, and it has been consistently used to further marginalize marginalized communities.

      It is absolutely awful and it should not exist, let alone be used for decision-making by anyone.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        These are some of the questions it asks to rate yourself on.

        You often make a backup plan for a backup plan
        You usually stay calm, even under pressure
        You are sentimental
        You prefer to completely finish a project before starting the next
        You like using organizational tools

        If you respond to say basically that you love organizational tools and backup plans, it will tell you you’re organized. It’s not groundbreaking stuff. It doesn’t “promote beliefs.”

        There is no pass/fail, and even if there was, you’re rating yourself on a scale, not a yes/no. Ableism? Even if you had rampant ADHD and time blindness, you would score yoursle dlow and become a sentinel or discoverer type vs. an analyst type. Would that be incorrect? No. Someone who is not good with being exact should not be an INTJ, for example. That’s literally the point of the test

        It’s only potentially ableist/sexist etc. if you work in tech and being INTJ is informally the correct outcome, but even then, that personality type is rare

        1. FrivYeti*

          This is a *perfect* example of why Myers-Briggs is worthless, thank you.

          Three of these questions: “you often make a backup plan for a backup plan”, “you prefer to completely finish a project before starting the next”, and “you prefer to completely finish a project before starting the next”, could indicate that you’re an organized person. It could also indicate that you are a very *disorganized* person who desperately needs those tools to stay focused, or that you’re a control freak who can’t handle if something goes slightly wrong, or that you are a deeply *anxious* person who spends a lot of time worrying about whether or not you’re organized, and all three of those traits require entirely different sets of management techniques and tools to interact with.

          Someone looking at those three questions and thinking that they are providing *understanding* about a person is going to be adopting a counterproductive, one-size-fits-all approach to managing people which is *guaranteed* to be ineffective.

          As for the other two: what does “you are sentimental” even mean? Does it mean you tend to cry at romantic movies? That you bond inappropriately with your coworkers? That you think you feel emotional easily? That you won’t discipline people that you’ve known for a while because they deserve another change? It’s a question without an answer, because it’s not a measurable thing.

          And *all of that* is without dealing with the fact that self-reporting on people’s personality traits only gives you the personality traits they think they have, and if there’s one thing that Ask a Manager has shown it’s how many people incorrectly judge their strengths and weaknesses, in both directions.

          AND all of that is without the basic understanding that the people who use Myers-Briggs for jobs use them for LEADERSHIP and MANAGEMENT, which is how they filter out people who don’t fit into the mold of confident upper-class white men that possess the ‘traits’ the test *assumes* exist.

          It’s garbage all the way down.

          1. Busy Middle Manager*

            A lot of the questions on this particular test are not “good” or “bad” so I don’t know where you’re getting the last few paragraphs from. Some things are good for sales, some for coding, some for HR, they aren’t good or bad overall. So why do you think people will be self-reporting so incorrectly? To appear more suited for a job that they can’t do? Also that last part is a bit much. I really think that’s the type of thing people say who is don’t look at the specific questions.

            And to answer your first question, these tests asks apparently-contradictory things back to back to trip you up precisely to avoid people thinking too much about the “correct” answer (even though, again, there is no correct answer).

            1. FrivYeti*

              There is no such thing as a “personality trait that’s good for coding”.

              And as for your other statement, I don’t even know what question you think you’re responding to, it’s certainly not anything that I said.

              1. aebhel*

                God, this. You can assess whether or not someone is good at coding by assessing their skills at coding, not by giving them a personality test. You assess skillsets and demonstrated behavior in the workplace, not pseudoscientific predictions about whether a particular type of work requires a ‘perceiving’ or ‘judging’ personality type, ffs.

        2. Humble Schoolmarm*

          Here’s the problem, though, I am an INTJ… some days. Every time I’ve taken the test, I’ve scored I and N consistently, but I flop between T/ F and J/ P. That’s what people mean when they say it has low test-retest reliability. If MB was showing the fundamental truth about who I am as a person (and was being used to figure out how I should be treated by my manager) then I should be consistently getting the same results. Instead, studies show that it’s about 50/50, even if the retest happens within a few weeks (so not long enough to have a big shift to your personality). Also, if I’m 25% unicorn INTJ, am I a great match for tech around 25% of the time? What happens to my job performance when I have an INFJ day? Similarly, should I be disqualified for teaching (a very extroverted job) because I’m an I?

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        We can’t link here but I just googled it and there are a bunch of results debating this question. Also note most don’t say “the test is horrible” but people here are stating that like it’s a fact and not getting asked for sources. So my guess is the issue is still being debated

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          I would argue that the fact that it is being debated means it should not be used to evaluate people for jobs. Something needs to be proven reliable in laboratory conditions, being used by qualified people who are aware the results may not be accurate before it is released to the general public.

          I think people are calling it “horrible” to use something that has not been conclusively proven to be accurate. You would need pretty strong proof before using something to make judgements about a person’s personality.

          If the results are inconclusive, then it’s a matter of “needs more investigation before it can be used” and while “horrible” is a pretty strong word, I would definitely consider it pretty unethical to use it without fairly conclusive evidence that it is accurate.

        2. Gozer*

          You can post links – they just go to moderation first.

          Looking for proof of your stance by googling isn’t good science either and you’re going to end up with junk data. It’s like asking google if vaccine ABC is any good – you get the high traffic results first which’ll invariably be anti-whatever it is.

          (I just googled one of my psychiatric medications and top 3 links were right wing newspaper articles about how these meds are useless and all you need is exercise)

          A lot of us are commenting from experience as well. Consider it like asking about sexism at work – a few results on google of how everyone is equal according to the law isn’t going to be more accurate than a huge forum of women saying that it still exists.

          1. Busy Middle Manager*

            with all due respect, this is one of those times where it’s going to look passive aggressive either way. Either I add 20 links or say “google it” but I am not trying to be passive aggressive, this is truly one of the times where “google it” is good advice! You don’t need to dig at all

            1. Elsajeni*

              People are not asking you for sources because it hasn’t occurred to them that you can google this information; they’re asking because, if you do google it, you find what you described as “a bunch of results debating this question” but you’re talking about it as if there’s a consensus that it’s accurate and reliable. The presumption is that you have a source you’re basing that statement on.

        3. Ginger Cat Lady*

          I mean, you called it “accurate” when there is so much information to the contrary out there, so I thought I’d point out that YOU stated the “accuracy” like it’s a fact and are refusing to back it up with sources, even while you double down on it.
          So my guess is you’re either someone who makes money off it, or has been suckered into paying $$$ for it and are unwilling to admit that was a mistake.

        4. Ginger Cat Lady*

          And we absolutely CAN link here, it just goes to moderation first. So go ahead and post your scientific proof.

    7. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “The Meyers Briggs one (the 16personalities ones) is accurate.”


      “So you can take a test or do trial and error for years to figure out how everyone works”

      God forbid you have a conversation with someone

      “If you are blue at times, and they want someone who’s all smiles and happy happy, why do you want the job?”

      This isn’t even an employment test, so that’s not applicable, and many of us bring another persona to our work. EVERYONE is blue sometimes. That doesn’t mean I’m sobbing in front of a client or failing to be warm in a meeting.

      Your overreliance on flawed pseudo-objective criteria has destroyed your critical thinking skills.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Last comment from me on this, but I think people are mixing up astrologic signs and those tests in the back of magazines with meyers briggs. Meyers briggs takes what you enter into it and basically spews it back at you. So it depends on what type of test you took. If something spits back a rewording of what you clicked “yes” to, the test is not the issue.

        Also again, it depends what you do with the result. There seems to be an elephant in the room that every manager has nefarious reasons for tests when usually it’s the exact opposite, to understand people without having to spend 10 years with them to learn all of their preferences and idiosyncrasies

        1. FrivYeti*

          No, it takes what you enter into it, filters it through the pre-existing biases of a pair of upper-class racist white women of the early 1900s, and then spews their biases about your answers back at you.

          It fails both on input *and* output.

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          It’s not a mixup; the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is not a scientific instrument. It differs from astrology and magazine tests in that it has a company that aggressively pursues and markets its own proprietary and yet wholly unsupported testing as a workforce tool.

        3. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I assure you my MBA program included popular screening tools such as Meyers Briggs. I also ensure you that they told us the history and why using it is all the things people have already told you. You need to wake up.

    8. Gozer*

      The Meyers Briggs one (the 16personalities ones) is accurate


      I’ve done almost every personality test on the planet – from buzzfeed to the ones a psychiatrist will do upon first seeing you – and none of them are 100% accurate. They might give a framework and general ballpark for preferences *on that day* but that’s it.

      Also I take exception with that ‘you can be depressed and moody in tech’ idea. No, you can’t outside of a few companies. I can’t hire people who can’t communicate and get along with the rest of us.

    9. Ellis Bell*

      “I have failed often before that, assuming other people were also motivated by what I was (truth seeking). ” That’s a great bit of self reflection, but why not just have proper two way conversation about your assumptions and other people’s motivations? Why is a one sided test going to provide better communication than a real conversation? I genuinely find that idea fascinating. Also, isn’t this the kind of thing proper management training would resolve?

    10. Melissa*

      The Myers Briggs test is widely known to have poor reliability (people change categories each time they take it, so it is not accurately measuring personality, which should be stable over time) and to have poor validity (statistics show respondents don’t fit into four dichotomies, with factor analysis finding 6, not 4, and people actually falling in a normal distribution in the centre of the “dichotomy”). Most of the research has been done and published by the organisation that owns the test so it hasn’t really been peer reviewed, and the general consensus is that the research is poor quality. The test has never demonstrated the ability to predict anything, including success or failure in the workplace. It is decidedly not accurate or useful and no one should use it.
      (source: psychologist who studied this and went back to find the articles)

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Are you answering the same set of questions with the same answers and getting different results?

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I would expect any such test to give you different results if you give it different answers.

            1. Melissa*

              Yes, but a well-designed personality test should ask questions that prompt consistent answers over time (lots of people change categories each time they take it, so it’s a common problem)

    11. happybat*

      Amongst other issues the Meyers Briggs test has poor reliability – a concern for a test that purports to identify stable personality types.

    12. JustaTech*

      Do you have a citation in the scientific literature for the accuracy of the Meyers Briggs personality test? Because a quick pop through PubMed (probably the wrong database) and Google Scholar aren’t helping much.
      (I found a paper on how Meyers-Briggs doesn’t predict which dentists should become pediatric dentists.)
      Rather, Pub Med’s probably not the relevant database, and what I’ve found on Google Scholar is not much, and those articles seem to be cautious/critical and from the 1980’s.

  26. Irish Teacher.*

    While this test sounds incredibly awful for a whole load of reasons, I want to point out that introversion is not bad nor would it prevent anybody from striking up warm conversations with patients and families.

    It just means that one needs time alone to relax. It doesn’t mean having poor social skills or being rude or anything negative at all.

    I always compare socialising as an introvert to playing sport. Many people love sport. Many people are good at sport. Similarly many introverts love socialising and are good at it. And some hate it or are bad at it (but plenty of extroverts are bad at it too). But it doesn’t matter how much you love a sport, how good you are at it or how much you were looking forward to playing, if you have been playing for 5 hours non-stop, you will probably need a break. Same with introverts and socialising. If they have something like a customer service job and spend 8 hours a day interacting with people, they will probably want an hour or two alone after work.

    That said, it sounds like the LW is not an introvert and the fact that the LW finds this part inaccurate is one of their better arguments against it, as people who are lazy might well be offended by being told they are whereas I can’t see any reason for an introvert to be offended by being called an introvert. It’s a completely neutral description.

    This, combined with the fact that the results pretty much contradict themselves (and the fact that personality tests aren’t exactly scientific anyway) makes it pretty clear the result is completely inaccurate.

    And yeah, any use personality tests have is either in getting the person to think themself about the questions and reflect on how they work or possibly getting people to discuss their results and what resonates and what doesn’t. Doing it pre-hiring does not allow for that because the person who should be the one to judge the results and say what was accurate and what wasn’t isn’t really in a position where they have the power.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      People want a couple of easy labels to pin on people so they know which group to avoid and which one to embrace. Saying that introvert is not a bad thing is like saying it’s not a bad thing to be a woman or PoC. It may not be, but some people are looking to hire carbon copies of themselves and they aren’t necessarily looking for logic.

  27. @ Work & Reading AAM*

    I’m interested to know if you get insights into everyone else’s results. I thought those tests were supposed to be a team benefit “roles eyes” meaning you also get to know the personalities of others.

    I’ve managed a successful career and never took or participated in anything like this.

  28. Richard Hershberger*

    It’s all about understanding the game. “Do you feel blue sometimes?” Of course I do. I felt blue after my brother died, for example. If the format were short answer, this would be a perfectly cromulent response. But these things allow nothing like that level of nuance. What they are really asking is if you are clinically depressed or are bipolar. So the correct, if not actually truthful, answer is “no,” even though this answer is obviously ridiculous. There is a small danger that they are testing whether you will give an obviously ridiculous “right” answer, and will hold that against you, but the odds are against this.

    While this seems to be a particularly crude example of the genre, I have seen the same thing with ostensibly respectable tests given by trained psychologists. Rate “I enjoy parties” on a one to five scale of agreement. Well, it depends. Are we talking about a group of fiends meeting over wine and cheese to discuss topics of common interest? Or are we talking about a dark room packed with people drinking cheap beer and with music pounding at high volume? We aren’t told, so I circle the 3. I was told I was equivocating. feh.

    1. Myrin*

      These test aren’t really common where I live but I very occasionally search them out on the internet for fun. And basically always, like three fourth of my answers would have to be “it depends”.

    2. amoeba*

      THB, I’d understand that one as a trick question, like. everybody feels blue sometimes, so that’s there to assess whether you’re answering honestly or not. I’ve actually taken tests that had that kind of ridiculous, obviously false statements (like, not sure it was that, but “I’ve never told anything but the full truth in my life”). And yeah, in the discussion later on it was indeed made clear that those were really “trick” questions, the test scored you on your authenticity or something.

      So, well, hard to understand the game when they keep changing the rules!

      1. Anony for this*

        They change the rules because the less-powerful figure out workarounds when the powerful are sneaky.

    3. Llellayena*

      “Do you feel blue sometimes?” Why yes, I do occasionally dress up like an ancient Scottish warrior and paint myself blue. Oh, that’s not what you were asking? (Football fans need not apply…)

    4. Guacamole Bob*

      > a group of fiends meeting over wine and cheese to discuss topics of common interest

      I am choosing to picture the party described as if that typo is intentional. Sounds like a fun evening.

  29. Prefer my pets*

    For future reference, you are not obligated to answer these honestly…the tests are jokes that don’t accurately predict anything (except that the people/companies who use them are vulnerable to fads, gimmicks, pseudoscience, & marketing and will probably have a lot of other problems to work with/for). If you absolutely have to do it, do 20 min of research online about that particular one & how to answer it to have it spit out the result the person requiring you to take it wants.

    But honestly, I think you should run like the wind from this job if you have any other options.

  30. Keira*

    > it’s time to get rid of personality tests in hiring and onboarding.

    It’s time to get rid of personality tests in the workplace PERIOD. It’s all pseudoscience which has no business being used in a professional setting. If you wouldn’t have your employees’ astrology chart commissioned, tarot cards read, or numerology assessment filed in their personnel chart, you shouldn’t be giving them these personality tests, either.

    1. Melissa*

      It’s not all pseudo-science, although a lot of it is. Personality testing has a place in hiring for professions like the police and army personnel, as long as it is done with valid measures, by someone who is qualified, and the results are not given out verbatim but are interpreted carefully in the context of what else is known about the person.

      1. I Have RBF*

        The qualified professional to administer and interpret the results is key. ADHD will make you test out as a lazy, disorganized flake on many of these, but a qualified professional will be able to see that it’s ADHD, not a fatal personality flaw. Also, most of these problems identified by these assessments can be worked around by coping strategies and workplace accommodations (e.g. writing thing down for the memory impaired.)

    2. Zarniwoop*

      “If you wouldn’t have your employees’ astrology chart commissioned, tarot cards read, or numerology assessment filed in their personnel chart”
      I bet there are employers out there who would and have.

  31. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    This is awful, but fairly good chance it’s because the owner met a really good salesman instead of something more sinister.

    1. duinath*

      i’m glad you’re here, because i’m dangerously close to pulling out a tinfoil hat thinking they’re trying to make new employees feel insecure… what if the results aren’t even REAL, man? what if the system is RIGGED.

      i hate my brain sometimes. it probably is just a bad test that was sold efficiently.

  32. Shan*

    I changed careers about 15 years ago, and literally the second day at my new job, I had to take a personality test – and display the results. I scored, like, insanely introverted, terrified of change, incapable of self-direction, and yet that I was also basically a robot. Yeah, because I was brand new to not only a job, but an entire industry! I was forced to choose between answers like “comfortable handling projects independently” and “needs step-by-step instructions” when I was viewing things through a lens of everything is unfamiliar and I have no idea what I’m doing.

    The first couple months, everyone treated me with kid gloves. It got better, once people got to know me and I got comfortable in my role, but it still really sucked. I wish employers would ditch those tests.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      ‘I was forced to choose between answers like “comfortable handling projects independently” and “needs step-by-step instructions” ‘

      As if there is no in between. Or if this is an option, with a range from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree,’ I end up picking the middle option if I am being honest. In this instance I would guess that handling projects independently is what they are looking for and go with that.

      1. Shan*

        I also typically choose middle/close to middle, if given a range, but this test didn’t allow for that. Plus it was just such a bad time to have me do one.

      2. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Yup, if I’m doing a project that’s innovative, creative and with low-ish stakes, then independence all the way!
        If it’s reinventing the wheel for no discernible purpose, then please don’t waste my time and just give me the instructions (or explain to me why you think it’s better to go rogue).
        If it’s how to do a heart transplant, yeah I want step by step instructions.
        I also notice that there’s no option for my preferred way of doing things, ie. give me the directions and let me puzzle them out on my own. I’ll check in if I get super stuck.

    2. Audrey Puffins*

      Ugh, I hate that. I LOVE step-by-step instructions, I love clearly laid out processes, I love ticking boxes as I go, I love absolute clarity in what is expected of me. But when they phrase it as “needs step-by-step instructions” it makes me sound like I can’t sit down and happily get through my day without being completely spoonfed, which is not the case. I can handle projects independently *and* love step-by-step instructions.

  33. Stay-at-Homesteader*

    Arrrghh this reminds me of accounts I’ve heard of people taking the “free personality test” at a certain organization’s public centers. Their test is basically designed to give you negative feedback so they can offer their specific and expensive “solutions.” While I doubt that’s what this company intended it for, it really gives me the heebie-jeebies.

    OP, I hope this proves to be a one-off bad decision in hiring practices. I’d be wary after that, but we also know from this site that people have a lot of wild ideas about hiring in particular. Hopefully it’s not representative of the rest of how they operate. Good luck!

      1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

        Hahaha I didn’t want to cause a derail!
        ….And maybe I’m a bit paranoid that there’s an alarm that goes off somewhere that would bring SeaOrg members to this page. I wouldn’t want to do that to Alison! :- P

  34. Val*

    Wow. What type of position were you applying for? That test seems a little over the top for customer service.
    I have two concerns with that type of test.
    1) Is the person receiving the results qualified to correctly interpret them? And use them?
    2) How are those test results kept and stored? Who has access to that information and how is it shared?
    I think you are right to be wary of this workplace!

  35. Not your Sweetheart*

    I went back to college in 2020- in my 40’s. One of my classes had us do one of these tests and write an essay on it. I had to rewrite my essay multiple times to make it sound rational, and not a pure hate fest. That test got it mostly right in the first section (how I learn), but was various shades of wrong in the other 3. The last section was supposed to help you choose a profession, I guess? It told me I should be an airplane mechanic. I am not mechanically inclined, and have very unsteady hands. Stupid test- especially for someone who has both life and work experience already. (I attended a community college, and most of the students in my classes for accounting were non-traditional college students; in their 30’s or older and with work experience.

    1. Miss Scarlett*

      I had to take one of these type of “Employment” quizzes as a high school junior (around 1980) I liked to do so many things, ie: crafts, music, working with animals, science, etc, that I think it skewed the results and it ended up with Garbage Collector as my best choice for a career.

      I can still see the resulting chart in my head, with all the dots representing all my classmates clustered around different college programs and careers and then MY dot, way outside the boxes. And everyone was sharing their results with each other. but I was too embarrassed by it. (Did end up going to a top state university, graduated too, but guidance counselor suggested a smaller more local school, based upon those stupid test results and my parents had to fight to get her to submit my transcript to my chosen colleges).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I took a similar test in high school in the 80s. Nobody used the results for anything but a laugh. (It has also since been pointed out to me that the questions were clearly left over from some old military aptitude test, probably from WWII. Because a lot of them were clearly about things 1980s-era high school students didn’t have experience in.)

    2. Random Dice*

      I know two people who took the Johnson O’Connor Foundation test, but unlike your test they actually do check for things like hand strength, perception of colors, speed, all kinds of nuanced things. It really helped my friend understand who some prior jobs had seemed like good fits but had turned out to be super frustrating. (A competent woodworker who failed at installing closet systems – due to an issue with working under time pressure, that later turned out to be neurodivergence).

  36. Alex*

    I’m super side-eyeing any “personality” test with such judgmental results. That is not how a mental health professional would operate, so I’m highly suspicious of any “science” behind this one.

  37. John*

    Honestly, it sounds like Scientology.

    The “free personality test” that indicates all kinds of flaws they can help you with, which they then follow up with some simple advice and some reading material and if you’d like MORE help getting rid of your neuroses well then they can book you some sessions for only $45/hr….

  38. John*

    This sounds like Scientology.

    A “free personality test” that discovers all kinds of flaws you didn’t think you had, followed by some advice and some reading material, and then “hey, if you’d REALLY like to get rid of all this personally, let’s book a session! It’s just $20 to start!”.

    1. Spencer Hastings*

      It sounds like Big 5 to me (it refers to “introversion” and “neuroticism”, and the “lazy” thing could be a way of describing a low conscientiousness score) — it’s just that the results are being presented in a really negatively biased way.

      Ironic, though, since that’s supposed to be the most scientifically valid personality measure.

      1. Ostrich Herder*

        I agree, I’d put a lot of money on the test being Big Five based. It’s taught and used in legit psychology all the time – my partner is a licensed counselor and it was one of the assessments they were explicitly instructed in how to use and interpret while getting their degree. The questions are on a five-point “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree” scale and the question LW quoted is definitely on there.

        My partner assessed me for fun after they learned about it, and I scored about as low as someone can on conscientiousness… It stung! I was really embarrassed about it.

        But a good test or proctor will put those scores in context for you. Conscientiousness doesn’t just measure your work ethic or whether you’re good at getting stuff done. High conscientiousness correlates to diligence and attention to detail, sure, but it can also lead to inflexibility and stubbornness. Low conscientiousness can mean someone is forgetful or flighty, but also indicates that they’re likely to be more flexible, spontaneous, and innovative in their approach to problems.

        There are similar sides of the scale for all the traits – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (this is also sometimes referred to at the OCEAN test). Highly agreeable people tend to have fabulous soft skills, and the fact that this test portrayed that as “being a doormat” makes me think the results are presented in a really negative or even punitive way, and I’d be concerned about that.

        1. I Have RBF*

          The test does not take into account existing cognitive and mental health issues, and ordinary issues that don’t impact your work will skew the thing significantly. For psychs to use it is great – it lets them know potential areas to work on. It is not good for employment testing.

  39. tjamls*

    The one time I was given a personality test at an interview, it was the Scientology personality test (Oxford Capacity Analysis) and if I’d gone to work for that company, they would have tried to get me in to Scientology. Even without a cult behind them, those tests are sus.

        1. Just another person*

          Oh no, I just moved to an area where they have a strong presence and a couple of small companies I applied to have asked me to take “mandatory personality tests that won’t impact hiring decisions”.

          I am going have to be extra cautious with proceeding now.

        2. Run*

          I can’t decide if this is the kind of thing Alison would omit to keep it anonymous or not, because it seems like a whole other level of sketchy.
          Alison, if you ever get this kind of question re: Scientology based quizzes please advise the LW privately (or publicly) not to take the job.

          LW, if this is Scientology based do not under any circumstances take this job.
          There is so much information out there about how damaging Scientology is that if the company isn’t owned by people deeply invested in Scientology it is owned by people with a dangerous lack of critical thinking skills*. You do not want to depend on people like that for anything, least of all your livelihood.

          Source – raised by Scientologists

          * I actually don’t mean to imply that people in cults are stupid, rather that unless you’re in the cult you’d have to be lacking in critical thinking not to have investigated Scientology before using their products. If you *are* in a cult your critical thinking skills are being constantly undermined, that’s a big part of what makes it a cult.

          1. Dataqueen*

            I just looked it up and apparently it’s by Jordan Peterson, which…yikes. Possibly even more problematic than Scientology

          2. Run*

            Wow, I did not see that coming. Honestly this just makes me think that Jordan Peterson is trying to start a cult which seems pretty on brand. And doesn’t really seem less full of red flags than Scientology (which is not a thing I expected to say)

          3. John*

            Oh wow, I was GUESSING Scientology, but I guess Jordan Peterson trying to neg you into joining the alt-right is close enough.

          4. Spencer Hastings*

            I thought, “ooh, I must try this just for the lulz”, but it turns out that you have to pay for it and there’s no free version. Darn.

    1. Livvers*

      When I follow the link to the test that LW did, in the “Team” information, it says Jordan Peterson is one of the developers of the test. And they are also selling something to ‘improve my personality.’ So not far off in terms of trying to use the test to identify our “ruin” and sell us a service!

  40. vox*

    my reaction to a company that uses personality tests in hiring is exactly the same reaction i have when a first date goes on and on about astrology. (must..control…eyeroll…)

  41. Young Business*

    I’m so sorry, LW. You make a strong case for dispelling the negative attributes associated to you. I truly hope your employer doesn’t fixate on these so-called results.

    It’s bad enough that larger companies sink tens of thousands of dollars in administering these tests and getting employees “certified” to facilitate the follow-up sessions where they psychoanalyze you. This is another level of being misguided.

    My current company puts a ton of stock in one of these “proprietary” tests and I think it’s silly. I don’t want to be reduced to a few of my attributes. And our leadership and HR advises us to use these test results as a way to navigate our relationships with others at work. “So and so don’t like small talk because they rank high on this scale so get straight to business with them”.

    Do you really need to be explicitly told how to navigate conversations at work? What happened to getting a read off of someone and then subsequently understanding how to work with them? I’ll get off my soapbox, now, haha.

    1. Spencer Hastings*

      “So and so don’t like small talk because they rank high on this scale so get straight to business with them”.

      Yes, god forbid you develop your own ideas (by interacting with the person and getting to know them over time) about what works for the two of you and whatever relationship you end up having.

      We all had to take a “VARK learning styles quiz” recently, and everyone’s results were shared with the entire department. The manager in charge of it wrote something in the email like “When you need to have a meeting or discussion with another member of the department, you can use this spreadsheet to see what their learning preferences are, and this can help you determine how to communicate most effectively.” Yes, boss, I’ll get right on that — so, Alice is an auditory learner, huh? Then instead of showing her how to use the tax software, I’ll just talk at her! Great idea.

      Sarcasm aside, I just feel like this sort of thing will pigeonhole people unnecessarily.

      1. Young Business*

        Agreed, Spencer. These types of tests unnecessarily label people. Our personal personas or professional personas don’t need to neatly fit in a box — that’s just not how life works.
        Unfortunately, my boss and I happen to fall on opposite ends of the spectrum (according to the test at my company) and I think she reads WAY too much into it.

        Ah, noticed a typo too late: “doesn’t like small talk”, lol.

    2. JustaTech*

      “Do you really need to be explicitly told how to navigate conversations at work? What happened to getting a read off of someone and then subsequently understanding how to work with them?”

      Got to be honest, this is a skill that not everyone has, and sometimes it’s really nice to just be told straight up “Christian needs everything in writing”, “Betty will want to talk it out in person and will read a negative tone into all text-based communications” “Give JustaTech at least 15 minutes between sending data audit and talking to her about it”.
      Especially if you’re working with someone with an impaired ability to read people’s cues, it can be really helpful.

      But you don’t get that from a “personality” test, you get that by having a conversation about it.

      1. Young Business*

        That’s totally fair, JustaTech, and didn’t mean to sound flippant on this topic. Reading social cues and picking up on other habits has been something I’ve gotten much better at in my career. I appreciate that it’s a skill that may not come naturally to folks at all.

        We should be open about our communication preferences and I definitely agree, having active conversations. I’m the person who needs to let something sink in before responding and I’ve gotten better at saying that to colleagues in meetings.

        Figuring out these nuances happens by way of communicating about preferences and accommodating others at work, not by looking up the results of someone’s test.

  42. Camellia*

    My daughter works for a huge multi-national company whose name you would instantly recognize. They administer the Enneagram personality test prior to hiring, which gives a score of 1 to 9.

    Then they only hire those who score one of two specific numbers, a 2 or a 9 (I think; can’t promise I remember the 2 numbers correctly).

    I was dumbfounded.

    1. 1-800-BrownCow*

      When I first learned about Myers-Briggs through an employer, the workshops we did after getting our results focused very highly on the benefits on having a mixture of personalities, especially within a single department, because each type brings positives to the team. You can have 2 people with the same personality who clash greatly and cannot work together and 2 people with opposing personalities that feed off each other and make a great team. I’m confounded why anyone would think that all the same personality would be be beneficial. That said, I did a personality test for a company I interned at back in college. They created test questions based on the personality and skills they felt best fit the role with multiple choice answers to choose for each question. The answers were scored 1-4, 4 being what they felt was “best” for the role and 1 being the “worst”. I don’t remember the exact requirements but it was something like you needed at least a score of 180 (out of 200?) or above to be hired for the role. Nothing tested your actual skills and knowledge for the position, it just verified you fit the stereotypical personality for the role. My degree is in a male dominant technical field and so I was told they were skeptical I was going to score high enough since “girls” (yes, I was referred to as a girl, despite being an adult) usually don’t have the typical male personality to succeed in technical roles. But apparently my personality was “male” enough as I passed and was officially hired.

    2. Jam on Toast*

      I’ve seen the enneagram tests. Now, I’m firmly in Camp Work Horoscopes on these tests. But at least with the Enneagram tests, all 9 personalities are pretty Pollyanna positive. There’s no real way to ‘fail’ the test. So why would only 2s and 9s be employable? That’s bizarre.

      1. MsM*

        If I’m remembering the test correctly, people who think they’re 9s can wind up getting other results because they’re picking up on the people around them, so that seems particularly unhelpful.

  43. Spencer Hastings*

    WTF kind of test even was this? The references to “neuroticism” and “introversion” make me think Big 5 (and the “lazy” thing could be describing low conscientiousness?), but it’s surprising that the results would be described in such a negative, judgmental way.

    My job just made us all take a VARK test (for “””””learning styles”””””””) and that was bad enough…

  44. Zap R.*

    I applied to be a cashier at a bookstore chain once. I had to take a personality test.
    Sample question:

    You witness a child using a hammer. The child injures themselves with the hammer. What do you do?”
    A) Comfort the child
    B) Take the child by the hand and find its parents
    C) Teach the child to use the hammer correctly
    D) Ignore the child

    You were apparently supposed to pick C.

    1. Sylvia*

      That’s terrible advice! I wonder if they paid a company for that test or if they came up with it themselves?

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      Seriously? I was thinking “none of those options sound good. I guess B, but even that doesn’t sound urgent enough considering it’s likely the kid has a broken finger,” but C? That is problematic in so many ways.

      1. Zap R.*

        I still cannot believe that there was no option for “Perform first aid and then figure out how the hell the child got hold of a hammer in a bookstore.”

    3. Bruce*

      That is the sort of ambiguous test that I’ve heard about. Sheesh! Somebody got paid a lot of money to come up with that.

    4. Cyndi*

      E) Find out how the child got hold of a hammer in my bookstore and find a safer way to store employee tools?

    5. UKDancer*

      Where’s the response for “take the hammer away, apply first aid and wonder how the heck they got a hammer in a book shop.”

    6. zzz999*

      I guess it depends on your definition of “injure” and “child”. Technically a 17 year old coworker who scrapes his finger hanging a sign with a hammer would qualify

      Would be handled much differently than a toddler with a hammer from an unknown source

  45. iglwif*

    I’m so sorry, OP, this sucks.

    I think an under-appreciated aspect of these kinds of self-report tests is that some of us are our own worst critics, and that can come out pretty strongly in the results. (This is an issue with self-report measures generally, but particularly when the topic if something as squishy as personality traits.)

    I am fairly confident that if I did a workplace personality test–even a relatively non-toxic one like DiSC or Clifton Strengths finder–while someone I work with and someone I’m friends with also answered the test with me in mind, we wouldn’t all get the same results … but which matters more in the workplace, how I perceive myself or how I am perceived by others? If I can be competent for 8 hours a day despite feeling incompetent for roughly 6 of them, does the employer actually need to care about my weird neuroses?

  46. Bear Expert*

    1) LIE. I have a whole degree in ethics and I fall firmly on the side that personality quizzes for employment are asking for a gentle, optimistic shading of the truth, a view of what its like to work with you, and can be answered in that character rather than as a medical profile for diagnosis. (for those of us with a particularly pedantic and precise view of the world, this means lying.)

    2) I have seen work horoscopes be helpful in very controlled circumstances to help people understand the idea that “different people are different and need/want different things” and the idea that different strengths doesn’t mean someone else is useless, and can in fact mean that they are better at the work you don’t like to do. These are in team training and discussion and problem solving situations, not new hire and onboarding.

    3) Since the questions are often blunt and ill explained, try to figure out what they’re actually attempting to ask, and answer in character. Hope they take the results with the same seriousness. “Do you like parties?” is asking if they can expect you to embrace more extroverted approaches to work – after hours get togethers, verbal explanations, and possibly some expectation about meeting new stakeholders rapidly or being more comfortable with established stakeholders and working patterns. they don’t (or at lest shouldn’t) care about your social life.
    It is stupid to do this with a Cosmo quiz rather than asking about working styles and preferences, and doing the analysis to answer questions that aren’t asked is obnoxious. So if you’re in power, work to get rid of it.

  47. 1-800-BrownCow*

    I’ll admit, I’ve done a full-blown Myers-Briggs test through my employer. They had just introduced it at the time and I had never heard of it before, so I thought it sounded interesting. I did find the results fit me pretty well and helped me understand myself better. At the time, we were a single-location company, locally owned by 4 guys. One of the owners was the one who introduced the test after much research. He was very adamant that the test results were not allowed to be used when considering people for jobs or promotions and as far as I understand, they never were. He used the tests to instead conduct workshops on understanding and working with the various personalities. I did find a lot of it interesting, especially with gaining better understanding of my introversion, especially the strengths of being an introvert as it seems most people focus on the negatives and misconceptions. At the time the whole company was going through the testing and workshops, there were improvements when working together on teams. For example, my very extroverted manager used to give me “constructive criticism and feedback” about how I should think and act more like him (such as: speak before thinking, interrupting others immediately with thoughts/questions/ideas, being pushy, outgoing, etc.) . Once he went through the test and a few workshops, he better understood that my differing personality was not a negative and thinking and acting differently from him was actually a positive that helped me be successful. So for that I was grateful.

    Eventually, the owners sold our company to a larger, international organization and the 2 owners who were still working at the business when they sold, eventually left over the next year. When that happened, the workshops stopped, although we still use the MBTI testing with new employees. However, nothing more is really done with the information and I now see it pretty pointless. A few of us that were working here when MTBI was initially introduced and went through the workshops still chat some about what we learned, but it’s more of an after-thought.

    With all that, for me at one point the information was useful. But what OP had to do is just crazy to me. No employer should be asking a new employee questions about their mental health and then taking that information to make negative assumptions about someone they’ve never worked with is just all kinds of wrong. I do hope things work out with OP at the job, but I would definitely be skeptical in starting.

    1. J Jonah Jameson*

      Same – we did Meyers Briggs at work some years back, and whatever type I got actually gave me some insight into how I think (and in particular why I’m bad at certain types of logic puzzles that most people would think I’d be good at). It’s interesting that I remember the insight but not the type.

      But that’s very different from it actually being useful at work. We had to share our types but then no one really did anything different based on them.

  48. I Would Prefer Not To*

    Wow that sounds madly unprofessional and irresponsible. No wonder you’re taking it to heart! It seems your employer like so many others basically had no idea why they even applied this test (why on earth would they hire somebody likely to steal from them?) and that’s a massive problem with these tests. I’ve had mostly tolerable experiences with personality profiling but I believe that was due to a professional HR or hiring manager who approached the tool as an advanced version of “tell me three weaknesses and how you handle them”. I like them better for team settings.

    For an interesting read on Myers Briggs, Merve Emre has published “The Personality brokers” about the test’s birth and development. They literally used it to deploy people as undercover agents in Nazi Germany based only on their result!

  49. Ground Control*

    On a positive note, this is the first personality test I’ve ever heard of that actually gives negative feedback! LOLsob.

  50. Sylvia*

    When my daughter was a teen looking for a minimum wage job, she had to take so many of those online personality tests–she failed all of them. I took one for her once, and I failed too! I’ve always gotten good performance reviews. There was usually an automated system that emailed her immediately thereafter saying that the test results indicated that she was not a good fit for their company.
    Unfortunately we had to continue shopping at some of these places and witnessed the employees crying, fighting, and muttering angrily to themselves on a regular basis. Whatever was going on in those places, the tests didn’t seem to be helping.
    (She eventually got hired at a chain restaurant because the manager liked that she was in band, because he had been in band in high school.)

  51. A Long Time Ago...*

    A very long time ago, for a temp job at a nuclear power plant, answering phones and sorting mail (pre-email), they made me take the MMPI as part of the interview process. I’m gay, but was fully closeted then for safety (ok…it was 1986, in the deep south). Afterward they called me to tell me that I failed the MMPI. I went to one of my professors in a panic, because that test is supposed to help diagnose significant mental health issues. She told me the reference group for women was 1950s upper middle class women in rural Minnesota, and that most women who are educated, smart, politically aware, gay, and/or alive in the 1980s “fail” and that I was not to give it another thought!

    I’ve always refused these tests since…

  52. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Shocking that employers make people take personality tests, Briggs-Meyer etc. They are all woo; might as well hire and promote on the basis of astrology

  53. Brain the Brian*

    I’d be curious to know what exactly companies think they can use these results for. What additional insights do they think they are getting from a personality test that other, more normal screening methods don’t tell them? I expect they’re not getting what they want — but I want to know what they’re trying to glean. Anyone have any thoughts from the hiring side of things?

    1. Gozer*

      Basically, because they have no idea how to manage. Or interview. The mindset they’ll say is that ‘we want to be aware of any possible issues arising and how best to include diversity’.

      So, in order to be ‘diverse’ they say they need to delve deep into personailities, backgrounds, colour, health. How can they possibly hire a wide range of possibly neurospicy people without testing for it? That’s their thought.

  54. Polly Gone*

    Years ago I applied locally for a corporate job. The interviewer (also the company president) said they would fly me to a large East Coast city to meet with a psychologist for testing before making an offer. It was a very interesting experience – batteries of written tests, face to face interviewing, and a cursory sort of physical examination (the person commented on my somewhat-asymmetrical nose – with the clear implication that I’d blown out my septum with cocaine!! rather than falling and breaking it). The big difference with OP’s situation is that I was never furnished with the results of the testing. I’m surprised that OP received results, particularly weird ones like this.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        And how has the person doing the physical assessment never seen a healed broken nose before?!

  55. Ireth*

    As someone who consistently gets bad (evil) results on personality quiz type things (even random ones like astrology!) LW has my great sympathy!! I am totally okay with people using systems of categorization like this for their own self-reflection, but I really bristle at using them to assess other people. It’s not really very fair, and, frankly is inappropriate for a workplace in particular imo.

  56. Overit*

    Back in the dark ages, as part of a psych class, we had to blind take a slew of personality tests and then self-rate them on accuracy. At the end of the semester, the prof tallied the answers and…drumroll…the astrologically-based tests were deemed most accurate. The prof’s point, amongst others, was to never believe in the accuracy of those tests.
    The skill I acquired from that was the ability to parse out any such test and answer in a “desirable” way. As I told the head of HR during a job interview process…during the 5th interview for a job. If you cannot figure out who I am after 10 hours of interviews, that is on you.

  57. Ho-ho-holey hose*

    To be totally blunt, this makes me think I should just lie if I ever have to do something at work that asks questions about mental illness etc.

    1. Tekkie*

      I would say yes, lie.
      At my former company, any and all advancement required a personality test. I adamantly refused the tests and never was promoted, while my coworkers discussed how best to game the system.

  58. Marcela*

    My young adult kid is scheduled for a psychological evaluation for a summer job. I don’t know what it will involve, but I hope it’s not like this or one of those “Would you report a co-worker for taking a pencil home?” kind of thing.

  59. Cinn*

    I’ve had to do Meyers-Briggs and SDI personality tests at work before. The only useful thing from them imo were the bits explaining how to modify approaching/conversing with people with wildly different personalities to your own. But even those shouldn’t be taken as gospel, and really is just an attempt to quantity soft skills.

  60. Selina Luna*

    I had one employer who not only required personality tests, but then also split us into groups based on our supposed results during meetings and professional development things. I was deeply annoyed about having to take the test in the first place, and I did what I always do: I gamed the test and answered how I perceive myself so I could get the Hogwarts house/4 Humours/Ninja Turtle that I always get. I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever been fully honest on a single one of these tests, but I was particularly annoyed about taking that particular test. There are not 4 basic personality types. There aren’t 12 or 16 either.

    1. Wintermute*

      I find it hilarious that these personality woo people rarely even notice that the reason “four types” is such a common trope in personality pseudo-scientific taxonomy is that it’s all fundamentally the theory of humors repackaged over and over.

  61. Wintermute*

    If you want to be mean, and I certainly would, that “blue” question they lead with sounds very much like a potentially illegal question designed to illicit healthcare information for discriminatory purposes in contravention of the Americans With Disabilities and Rehabilitation Acts.

    If it’s worth a little time of your life to strike back, I would consider looking up what it takes to file a complaint in your circumstances and even if you choose not to right now make note of the deadlines, you often have several years because the law realizes most people’s reaction to a brand new and badly needed job doing something shady is not quit and go right to the feds.

    Also I hate to be conspiratorial and it seems odd because they presumably WANT you to work for them but “personality tests” are often biased messes, even scientifically-designed tests by professional testing organizations like College Board have serious bias issues let alone wholly unscientific glorified Teen Vogue quizes.

    I’ll be blunt, if a test in a category known to have serious systemic issues with bias and impermissible disparities between protected groups suddenly says plainly and baldly counterfactual negative things about someone I am going to start looking for potential prejudice in the reasons.

    It’s the nexus of circumstances: that these tests are a mess ethically and scientifically, that their estimation of you seemed to change so drastically, that you have concrete proof this assessment is not accurate because you have concrete accomplishments which would be impossible were the test accurate, etc. All tell me together that this is A Problem Here.

  62. Gozer*

    Sounds like you were given a mental health questionaire! Which is entirely inappropriate for a workplace.

    No employer needs to know my mental health issues – if I choose to let them know about the depression, OCD, PTSD, schizophrenia then I’ll tell them.

    A quiz that even asks about a history of depression? I am not answering it. It’s as much none of their business as if they’d asked if I had a family history of cancer or what my BMI was (which is also junk science).

    Definitely push back on this when you start but also to use a Star Trek analogy Keep The Shields Up. A place that asks that is somewhere you’re going to have to tread very carefully regarding them.

    1. Wintermute*

      yes I’m glad you flagged that. It’s not only deeply inappropriate but depending on circumstances and what they DO with the information it is quite possible they are violating the law here.

    2. Lalitah*

      I’m in agreement.

      This small employer is also opening themselves up to litigation with this kind of screening process. Beyond a test for basic computational skills that are relevant to the business world, there should be nothing that solicits information of a medical/health nature.

  63. kiki*

    I think personality quiz results can be helpful in that they remind folks that their colleagues might have different working styles, interpret things in different ways, and respond differently to situations than others would. But work personality tests should always highlight from the jump that all personalities are good and valid, just different. There cannot and should not be a “bad” personality outcome on any of these tests. That really can’t be determined from a multiple choice quiz.

    1. Wintermute*

      Yes! I did some good training on that, which actually spent a good chunk, like half an hour, breaking down the common myths of which personalities are better or worse.

      They pointed out, for instance the stereotypical pessimist is actually really vital to have around. You NEED someone who will point out predictable disasters and where you have historically had shortcomings and issues delivering quality. You can’t have a whole team so rah-rah no one goes “uh the last three times we tried to make a chocolate coffee carafe were were way over budget and time… maybe we stick to tea pots?”

      I loved that they put so much heavy focus on “even the personality most people instinctively think is the biggest problem and bad to have around is actually saving your business from collapse, so respect them for it.”

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yup, in Ireland, we had a taoiseach (prime minister) who famously accused the economists who were pointing out that the economy was overheating and headed for problems of being too negative. They turned out to be entirely right and the economy collapsed. Being completely “oh, don’t listen to the naysayers. Bad things won’t happen and everything will work out fine. We don’t need to make any contingency plans” is…not good.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Lol. I think I just got the same performance review those economists did.

    2. Throwaway Account*

      Shouldn’t we all know that colleagues might have different working styles, etc.?

      If you are gonna do these tests, the focus must be on how to best work with people with different styles.

      I know one of my current coworkers has a very different style. It is so different that when we email or talk, we don’t understand each other at all. It is so bad at times that I’d think we came from different countries and different languages but we are both from my country and speak the same language from birth. I have no idea how to work with them better and I’ve tried lots of things and gotten feedback from other coworkers (most of whom think this coworker does not like them).

      I don’t need a test to tell us we have different styles, I need advice about how to work with someone who is so different from my style.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yes! Why do full-grown adults need standardized tests to tell them that different people are… different people?

        1. JustaTech*

          Some people do need a periodic reminder that just because everyone in their department is a scientist or accountant or sales person, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will think/communicate the exact same way you do.

  64. Evil Queen of Dysfunction*

    I once had the results of a team personality quiz used against me. I don’t remember the test, or the 4 possible results. We were a new team opening up a new site and there were only 9 of us. We were told no one ever tests as “the challenger” on a new team. So of course, I ended up testing as a challenger.

    For the next year and a half, any time I asked a question about ANYTHING I was told “we know you are the challenger, EQoD” I was pigeon holed as an troublemaker without even have the opportunity to actually BE the troublemaker!

    I would reconsider moving forward with the role. You can say you want to work without engaging in the results… but that’s like telling a jury to disregard something. It is always there, in the back of their mind.

    1. Wintermute*

      Your work did this badly, obviously, but it’s not a bad concept as a whole. If you understand it’s pseudoscientific and should only be used to emphasize diversity of ideas and personalities as an important kind of diversity in addition to all the rest that we strive for.

      My training took half an hour to discuss why a couple of commonly-maligned types in their model, including an analogy to the Challenger in their classification system.

      They basically said a business that’s so gung-ho no one stops to say “uh the last four times we tried that sale event we LOST money maybe another bite at the apple isn’t going to fix that?” or “this system would be great for a company with ten times our revenue but realistically we won’t grow this much,” is doomed.

  65. MirandaAround*

    Agree with Alison, you have a great rebuttal to use.

    Context and taking them in proportion is everything for these tests. We did some Belbin team type work and that was positive in identifying the gaps to fill on a project team, and helped me adjust my attitude to a co-worker I found irritating when I realised we just had different work personalities.

    But I also had a brief (fixed term contract) spell at a small family run company where the HR lead (married to the CEO) did Myers Briggs at onboarding, and then used the results unhelpfully eg me “my team are resistant to working evening hours without time off in lieu and I think they have a point” HR “oh that’s so typical of you as an ABCD….” I was glad to escape that place.

  66. Problem!*

    I worked at a company that did this crap. On top of taking the dumb test we had to display our results prominently in our cubicles so people “know how best to communicate with each other”. I got a hilariously low score for sociability so I’d point to that little sliver of my pie chart and tell people to go away and send me an email instead (jokingly of course).

  67. PotsPansTeapots*

    Uhhh, OP, was this test the “Oxford Capacity Test?” Those very negative assessments of your personality seem very Scientol*gy to me.

  68. Six Degrees of Separation*

    OP, so sorry you’re dealing with this. This gives me a flashback to the time I took a personality test and then didn’t get called in for a final interview. I’ve always been a conscious, hard-working sort, so it was a huge blow to my confidence, especially as a new graduate (at the time). I hope you will do what Alison has suggested before you start. I would be afraid they’ll surprise you when you show up. I would also make sure you have a backup plan and/or leave your current work on the best of terms just in case. Best of luck!

  69. Krissygoesmoo*

    This just reminds me of the time my husband worked for a local company. After he was hired HR decided to incorporate personality tests into the interview/new hire process, and they made all current employees take the test. My husband “failed” and was immediately fired, because the test said he would not get along with the other staff there.

    1. Throwaway Account*

      OMG! Fired! Had they not been able to observe him and make their own decision about this.

      So foolish! And I’m sorry!

      1. I Have RBF*

        Too bad that’s not actionable in an at-will state. The fact is, those tests just provide plausible cover for various types of illegal discrimination.

  70. Pink Candyfloss*

    Whenever I take any type of personality or work style test, I get completely different results if I put on my “work hat” vs my “who am I in the rest of my life” hat. I am much more thinking at work and much more feeling at home. I address challenges and issues in my personal life in different ways than I do at the office. If the same person takes the same test twice and gives true answers both times because we approach things differently in vs out of work – that just shows you how little value these tests really have.

  71. DEEngineer*

    When I was a hiring manager, I really liked the PI (Personality Index). They sold it as a way to find the right fit – you’re hiring a pilot for the military, but are you hiring a bomber pilot or a fighter pilot? I hired 2 women and 3 men (one was Black) for plant engineering roles with it. I found it helpful. It helped me ask better questions when I called references, and sometimes it added context to interview answers. The one person I didn’t hire due to the test was because it said that she liked a lot of direction and was cautious about making her own decisions and following through, and her interview backed it up. I needed someone who could jump right in and start with minimal supervision. And yeah, we didn’t give out the results unless they were hired. It was popular at my company, and some groups took it for fun. I still remember hearing about the abrasive tech service engineer seeing his (not the introspective type) and saying with surprise, “It thinks I’m a serial killer!” When we hired for a quality tech, the PI came back that the person was very… particular. And liked rules. And that was what we wanted.

    1. DEEngineer*

      The best story about this test comes from a friend at another company. Keep in mind that this test is manually scored by a trained person. His HR rep offered to let him and his boyfriend take the test at the same time, for fun not business. After she got the results, she asked him if they fought over whether or not to use disposable or non-disposable dishes. She said that his boyfriend would prefer disposable, whereas my friend would insist on non-disposable. He said that they argued over it all the time and it wasn’t something that she could have known.

  72. Abogado Avocado*

    Alison is absolutely right that it’s time to get rid of personality testing in employment. Psychological science has known for decades (see, e.g., these studies: and that there are all kinds of problems with reliability and validity with personality test instruments, even when those instruments were developed by psychologists.

    Were I you, LW, I would cite the research, readily available on PubMed to your new employer for the proposition that personality tests are not the way to determine whether someone will work well with others or be a “team player.” The way to do that is through interviewing and seeking concrete examples of how the applicant works; it’s not using a personality assessment that may or may not have been cut out of a magazine and that the applicant works on at home in an uncontrolled examination environment.

    1. Wintermute*

      I have high hopes an enterprising lawyer willing to make it a life’s work could use disparate impact as a lever to get the entire field banned from use in employment.

  73. Pizza Rat*

    A while back, I was sent an IQ test and a personality test when I applied for a job at IBM. I was rejected for the job less than five minutes after I sent them in.

    I don’t know what triggered the response, but it was seriously discouraging.

  74. Ango*

    FYI personality tests are also used by anti-union employers to weed out potential employees who seem likely to organize.

  75. Ferris Mewler*

    I hate that so many employers seem to rely on these tests as integral parts of their hiring process. I am horrified on your behalf OP and I really hope that your employer is reasonable and doesn’t use the results to undermine you or push you out.

    I enrolled in a highly regarded writing course once and it was essentially paying $500 to take several personality tests (Clifton Stengths, Myers-Briggs, DiSC) and then a tiny bit of advice on how to use that information to develop your writing process. I was very disappointed and disillusioned and embarrassed that I had participated in it. Never again.

    1. Wintermute*

      I have very high hopes that a lawyer willing to dedicate their entire career to it the way, say, RBG did with gender discrimination, could use disparate impact the same way she did to attack the legality of the entire idea of testing employees for anything but hard skills like “can you make a fizzbuzz program in C#”.

      There is a decent chance existing law would ban these outright if it was consistently applied, but until someone with standing sues there is no application of the law.

    2. Working Class Lady*

      Wow. That’s awful.
      You can take Myers-Briggs for free (evidence of its reliability is dubious, I’ve heard)
      I would have wanted my money back.

  76. Throwaway Account*

    Is it bad that I want to know what the test is so that I can take it?

    Also, I had a boss take some kind of assessment in a workshop that she loved and brought to our workplace. When she heard me talking about my “score” she told me she was really surprised as she had been giving me assignments based on HER ASSESSMENT OF HOW I WOULD SCORE. Spoiler, she scored me incorrectly. Not that I think the test was correct but her assessment of me was way off base and resulted in me being given work that was not the best for me!

  77. CV*

    If these tests were scientifically/clinically valid, they would require a clinician to give them and medical records release forms to give the results to anyone else, such as an employer.

  78. ENFP in Texas*

    And it’s not even meant to “restrict” or “define” how you interact with people.

    “Introvert” doesn’t mean “I can’t talk to people and would be bad at a customer service job”, it means “At the end of the day I generally prefer to have some down time by myself to relax” or “I tend to process ideas internally as opposed to talking about them in a group setting”. Just because an Introvert is quiet during a meeting, it doesn’t mean they aren’t engaged.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      Yeah, I was thinking of my grandmother, who often said she’d love to live right in the centre of a city so she could be around people all day. She would be terrible at a customer service job. She may have enjoyed being around people and she did, but she also enjoyed a bit of aggro and part of what she enjoyed about being around people was having a good argument (and by that, I do not mean academic debates). She’d announce loudly that somebody was “the one I hate,” deliberately intending them to hear.

      So yeah, if you were using a personality test to decide that she loved being around people and enjoyed interacting with people so she’d be good at customer service, you’d be dead wrong.

      (She always said she wanted to be a prison warden like her dad was, but this was back in the 1930s and he wouldn’t let her. I guess he thought it wasn’t a job for a girl.)

    2. Gozer*

      Absolutely. I’m highly introverted but it just means I need a lot of time on my own after social interaction. I’ll still talk to anyone, can give speeches to lecture theatres, communicate with my team and others.

      All it means is that I don’t mind being on my own.

      1. UKDancer*

        Whereas I’m always typing as extrovert and I do like people, enjoy going out and doing stuff and being with people but only certain people because I am very fussy about who I spend time with and a lot of people annoy me.

        I’d also be terrible at customer service jobs because I struggle to read body language and tend to not be very good at working out what people want. When I worked in a shop, we had one member of staff who was really quiet, warm but introverted who always took the unhappy customers because she was really good at finding what resonated with them.

    3. Audrey Puffins*


      I mean, I knew I was an introvert, but I didn’t know that “I tend to process ideas internally as opposed to talking about them in a group setting” is a part of it, that REALLY explains some things for me.

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Interestingly, though, I’m an introvert’s introvert in terms of enjoying my own company, but I also love performing and prefer to process ideas in a group (they kind of get stuck rattling around in my brain and I can’t seem to reach a satisfactory conclusion otherwise).

  79. Retail Dalliance*

    When I was 20 years old, I got hired by my university to work in the orientation office over the summer. It was a full time job–some weeks even 50-60 hours, which paid great overtime, so the job was competitive. The first thing we did as part of onboarding was take a personality test. I took it diligently, but when I had a one-on-one with my new boss, she said things like “Your personality tends to be bossy and doesn’t work well with introverts” or “your personality type doesn’t listen well to others.” I was taken aback! So I pushed back (gently, as much as I felt comfortable being 20 years old) and said, “Well, I’m not sure that I feel my personality can fit neatly into one of these boxes, to be honest.”

    Her response was “So, you didn’t take the test seriously when you took it?” I said “No, of course I did–” but she cut me off and said “That shows me you won’t take your JOB seriously. This is not a great start!”

    The job situation / boss relationship did not improve from there.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      What I find kinda ironic here is it sounds like your new boss was acting exactly like the negative interpretation of your results. She sounded like she was bossy and didn’t listen well to others.

      1. Retail Dalliance*

        It took a decade, but she was eventually fired by the University for gross misconduct and harassing employees!

  80. Lizzy*

    Does anyone have experience with the Tony Robbins DISC assessment? I recently encountered a job application that asked for one’s DISC type and was immediately turned off by the fact that you had to sign up for his email list to do the test. I didn’t end up applying (or taking the test) but have wondered what that was about.

  81. I edit everything*

    I didn’t read all the comments, but someone posted on Reddit the other day about the personality test they had to take for a job at a large US-based delivery service (not the brown one), that was pictures of a blue guy doing things or in various poses, and you had to select “me” or “not me.” There were titles for the pictures, but they weren’t obvious, and some of them were truly weird. Someone posted a link so people could go take it, with fake info.

  82. UpstateDownstate*

    I wont say anything different than what I’m sure everyone else has already said….this is a terrible thing to do to a new hire and a huge red flag. And they want to discuss it with you when you join them? WHAT!? NO!

    I also, personally, feel that these tests should be confidential and for your own use only to help yu figure out how to navigate working with others, if at all! Every job setting is different, you are also different even if you end up taking the same job, we grow and learn with every new role.

    I’m so upset for you…and if I was in this position and I had another option I’d take the other option over a job like this.

    Funny enough while at a former job I was asked to take a personality test ‘to see how the team and you can work together’ and my results were so terrilbe and not at all how I function in a work setting. It completely rattled me and I felt so violated. Anyway, never again! UGH. What is wrong with people?

    Hope that this is just a one time misstep with your new employer and it actually turns out to all be fine in the end.

  83. homewort*

    Sorry you’re having this experience, OP! The only thing I would add to Alison’s advice is that you don’t need to feel like you have something to prove here, so don’t work yourself to the bone to counter the idea that you’re lazy! I’m a bit suspicious that the employer might be trying to manipulate you into working unhealthy hours or making choices not in your best interest in order to counter the negative assumptions that they’ve put in your head.

  84. Fitzie's chew toy*

    Years ago, a group of about 30 teachers were asked to take the Meyers-Briggs (or some similar) test in a faculty “workshop.” When we got our numerical results, we were to go sit with our matching group. I ended up with four nerdy math teachers. Absolute chaos ensued. I actually stood up and shouted, “I don’t belong with these guys. I belong with those guys,” pointing at my funny, outgoing, English teacher group. The hilarious thing is everyone agreed. One of the math teachers said, “You must have added your scores wrong, let me help.” Meanwhile, the meanest, most gossipy teacher was in the fun group. Someone shouted at her, “You cheated, you don’t belong here. ” It was simultaneously the funniest and most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done at work. Somehow the leader got us calmed down, but the next day, an older teacher friend pointed out that one of the questions on the test was, “doesn’t care about people’s feelings.” She said I had probably hurt the math teachers’ feelings and I should apologize.
    So I went to their classrooms and apologized, but their response was very logical. No, I didn’t belong in their group and therefore they weren’t hurt. Months later I ran into a teacher from another school who asked about the ruckus in the meeting. Word had spread!! We all continued to work together for years and remained friends. Except for the gossipy teacher who is still mean 30 years later and is studiously avoided.

  85. Former Red and Khaki*

    I think Alison’s advice is sound, I just want to chime in on the sentiment that personality tests for employment are stupid and should be done away with. My current employer uses them, but a supervisor admitted after I started that they really don’t even look at them. So why use them at all, right? Last year I was in the interview process for a similar position; I had one phone interview which was pretty standard, and then they asked me to do their personality tests prior to the second, in person interview. I was shocked when I showed up and they handed me a PACKET with in-depth analysis of the results that we then went over piece by piece and they questioned/borderline interrogated me on a couple of the outcomes. Like Alison said, they were basically just dressed up Cosmo quizzes! Left a bad taste in my mouth. They then contacted me for a third interview with a director and an advisor that was supposed to be TWO AND A HALF HOURS LONG (which is probably pretty standard in a lot of industries, but this was for an admin position to a financial advisor, and that third interview is supposed to essentially be a vibe check and definitely not take more than an hour tops). I told them I was no longer interested.

  86. PennyFarthing*

    Does anyone actually give honest answers on these tests? I always give opposite answers to make myself out to be the most peachy keen, enthusiastic, compliant and obedient employee ever ;D

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      My employment test personality sounds like the most annoying type A suck up you could imagine lol. Employers love her.

    2. Bess Marvin*

      right?? I assume most people looking for an entry-level job at Olive Garden just put in whatever they think the survey would want them to say

  87. Potato*

    I hate those tests. We told our boss that we felt we weren’t getting enough communication from the top and her response was to make us all do a personality test and discuss the results as though as that solved anything

  88. Disaster Recoverer*

    These test results sound so shady and alarming! I would be upset, too!!

    That said, I really like Alison’s framing of “These results were strikingly different from how I work and at odds with the feedback I’ve always received from managers.” and I hope you can find a way to incorporate a version of that, whenever you choose to discuss your concerns.

    One of the (legion of) things I loathe about personality tests in the workplace is that they skew towards bizarre analysis of self-reported traits, but also don’t consider that the test-taker might have some self-awareness about their actual strengths and weaknesses and compensate for them, either in the test-taking itself, or in real-world situations.

    As an example of the latter, my Predictive Index (which I had to take for current job, and for which I answered questions honestly), says I’m “moderate” in Dominance (however they mean that – some of it seems contradictory). However, I also know first-hand that if I speak first in a meeting, my opinion tends to carry weight and some people (who might have better ideas!!!!) may not speak at all. So I engineer meetings and conversations in such a way to ensure that everybody has a chance to speak and discuss options before I weigh in. That’s been standard practice for me for at least 15 years, personally and professionally.

    Hilariously, my PI Personal Development Plan tells me I should “actively seek input from multiple sources” and “practice active listening and allow people to express their opinions or ideas”. Really? Ya think? Thanks for the… list of things the HR people will say I should improve upon, without having the foggiest idea if I already do them.

    The tendency towards quick (and likely inaccurate) personality assessments in lieu of getting to know the people you want to hire is cringe-inducing. As far as I can tell, PI is the best of the lot and it’s still more likely to create mess than resolve any. :(

    OP, I wish you luck, and hopefully your new employer will not take those results too seriously, even before you discuss it with them.

  89. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    Here’s a radical idea. Instead of giving a people a test on their strength and weaknesses and the best way to work with them, ask them.

  90. Sashly*

    Many years ago, my father had to do this as part of an internal promotion at his work. This was the early 70’s, so they actually sent him to a psychiatrist to work up his personality profile. While he was recounting the events of his life, he looked over to see the doctor taking notes and drawing something that looked like a graph. Intrigued, he asked about it—only to discover that the psychiatrist had fallen asleep!

  91. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    Sigh…please, employers/hiring managers/HR staff: You. are. not. your. subordinates’. therapist. and. applicants/employees. are. not. your. patients!

    AAM is chockfull of letters like this one in which employers (often with very good intentions but very bad results) think/claim that they’re supporting employees’ mental health by holding amateur therapy sessions, ordering their subordinates to write and share soul-wrenching poetry that made the author cry, demanding that they share emotional traumas, etc. ad nauseum.

    It’s unethical and potentially damaging or even dangerous to do this to the very employees they SAY they want to support; managers are NOT, and should never try to be, psychotherapists to their staff. Even therapists should not confuse supervising a subordinate and treating a patient! Please, supervisors; support your staff by being the best possible manager – that’s all they want from you anyway.

  92. Respectfully disagree with Alison on this*

    Absolutely: a lot of personality tests “out there” are horribly developed (basically a joke, sometimes literally so), or not validated, or not intended for an employment context. For example, tests intended to diagnose personality *disorders*, even if well developed and well validated in clinical settings, should not be used in an employment setting for multiple reasons, including but not limited to the fact that the company is likely to fall afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act. So, caveat emptor.

    With that said, I was dismayed to see the following statement from Alison: “it’s time to get rid of personality tests in hiring and onboarding … — and if you are going to use them, pre-hire and pre-start is the wrong time to do it….” I’d submit that this statement throws the baby out with the bathwater and, basically, is not evidence-based.

    Respectfully, there is *considerable* research evidence (including from meta-analyses, or quantitative reviews of the research literature) that well-developed and well-validated personality tests *should* be used at the pre-hire stage to evaluate applicants. This is because:

    (1) Scores on personality traits such as conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism absolutely *do* predict employees’ levels of task performance, counterproductive/deviant work behavior, and so forth. Personality tests (again, well-developed and well-validated ones) are not the *best* predictors of employee performance but they do a respectable job and, importantly, they predict performance *above and beyond* other predictors (thereby increasing overall predictability).

    (2) Moreover, personality tests do not exhibit appreciable disparate/adverse impact against members of legally protected groups (e.g., based on race/ethnicity or gender) whereas other commonly used employee selection tools (e.g., cognitive ability tests and unstructured interviews and, to a lesser extent, structured interviews, work sample tests, situational judgment tests, and so forth) exhibit higher–often *much* higher–disparate impact. So, taking personality tests off the table would be rather harmful from a DEI perspective.

    By way of explaining my perspective, I’ll add (in case it matters) that I’m a professor of industrial and organizational psychology, and I also consult on the side. I teach the MA/PhD-level course on personality psychology. I also do some research in the area (though it isn’t my main focus) and am therefore quite familiar with the research on personality, both in general and in the context of employee selection/hiring in particular.

    1. I Have RBF*

      So, according to your “logic”, people with ADHD, cognitive impairments, and other disabilities should just beg on the street corners because those test WILL screen them out of all jobs.

      No, no, and HELL NO.

      I score terribly on the FFM because of ADHD and memory issues. I get labeled “lazy” and “neurotic”, when in my job I’m diligent and responsive.

      The FFM is bunk, MTBI is bunk, CAT is bunk, enneagram is bunk, it’s all bunk, all the way down when you apply “personality” or “cognitive ability” testing to a workplace environment.

      Validated personality and/or cognitive tests should ***ONLY*** be used by psychological/neurological professionals in a clinical setting, not hiring, retention, or firing.

      1. Working Class Lady*

        Not to mention the simplistic black-and-white answers these test questions demand that aren’t reflective of real life.
        Some tests clearly want to hire a certain type of person, but that’s not hard to figure out after the first few questions. As an applicant, all you’d need to do is answer the way the test wants.
        They need to go. They’re as reliable and evidence-based as a Cosmo or Buzzfeed quiz, and HR personnel aren’t trained psychologists.

        As others have pointed out, some exams are appropriate in a clinical setting handled by a trained mental health professional only.

      2. Chanel No. Pi*

        Yeah, some people are just not good at taking these tests. And I’m skeptical that the average person, like a hiring manager with no background in psychology, is good at interpreting them.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Which tests do you claim are reliable for use by automatic online application systems or by HR people who are not professional psychologists?

      I accept that detailled 1-to-1 sessions with a qualified psychologist can reveal personality traits,
      tests used by automatic systems or by people with at most a few days training (often none) are just weaponised woo

    3. Sacred Ground*

      All those credentials and you don’t cite a single source. All that research proving everyone here is wrong and you don’t quote any of it.

  93. K Smith*

    OP, I’m really sorry this happened to you. You come off as a very thoughtful, conscientious and self-aware person in your letter. I hope your circumstances allow you to flee this job if it turns out to be the bad environment that this ridiculous assessment suggests it might be.

  94. Ray Zumay*

    Decades ago, I had to complete a series of personality tests that amounted to finishing sentence stems, answering essay questions, and indicating agree/disagree on statements about mindset that in some cases were annoyingly repetitive to demonstrate consistency and several that were jaw-dropping wild (most memorable: “I subscribe to the idea that we eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” and “The sight of a bearded man upsets me”). These tests took *hours*. The job? Proofreading help wanted ads. Unfortunately, I was desperate enough for work that I took the job. Also unfortunate: All the ads were for nursing and trucking so I couldn’t even make this job work to my advantage.

  95. Marcus*

    one of my first employers did this at interview stages. can’t really remember mine, but I did have a great Christmas week when I was the only one in the office (recently hire, not enough holiday days accrued) reading the results for _everyone_ in the company. just left on the shared network drive.

    same company left everyone’s salaries in the photocopier. class acts all the way through.

  96. what is this, a buzzfeed quiz?*

    I just had to take one of these *today*. As the first step in the interview process. They called it an “assessment,” so I thought it would be a test of my skills and knowledge, but it was all about my personality. On one hand, if they don’t hire me because of it, I’ll know I dodged a bullet because my last job was an environment where I couldn’t thrive for many reasons, so now I’m looking for something that’s an excellent fit. On the other, it made me feel icky.

  97. dominating (?) personality*

    This reminds me of the time I was (heavily) recruited for a job. After being contacted by administration at the job they sent me a personality test while we coordinated a time to schedule a meeting. The results from the test were automatically sent to the admin. Once I took the test I received an email from said admin that they no longer needed my services. Hilarious.

    This company has a reputation for being difficult to work for. The were struggling then and are still struggling now, over 5 years later.

  98. NeedsMoreCookies*

    I once was stuck photocopying a bunch of materials for a workplace personality test program… it divided workers into four categories: Red (pushy sales guys) Green (nerdy IT and accounting types) Blue (pink-collar nurturing office Moms, they must’ve thought they were real clever picking that colour) and Gold (management). Why gold? Because they were the ones paying the consultants for the assessment! Ahem, no, it’s because they’re always the PERFECT mix of the other three colours, of course!

    I must have not been the only person who noticed how dumb it was, because the tests were never distributed as far as I could tell.

  99. Elizabeth West*

    I tend to self-select out of jobs that rely on personality tests. They’re no better than a horoscope. I predict employers will start asking what your zodiac sign is.

  100. Fightthepower*

    ugh. someone sold either our HR team or upper management on one of those crap tests, and they told us we’d all have to take it. Joke was on them, a few of us managed to figure out which one and googled how to “pass” it. Now we are the most amazing department in the company lol… (we would have shared the wealth but it only made it through out department in the time we had). Play stupid games win stupid prizes…

    I’m sure there are probably a million better ways they could have spent that money and a bunch of them on staff development!

  101. Mango Freak*

    I wonder if this was the Hogan Assessment. My org forced it on us last year and wouldn’t listen to any of our objections.

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