Just about everyone has a view on personality profiling and the profiles and reports they produce. Of the thousands who have received a profile, many love them and use them often. Some mistrust them, others dismiss them out of hand. So what exactly is the value of a personality profile, and how can it benefit you?

Most personality tests examine our innate characteristics. This means the things that we do and say without thinking, and the behaviours that we display naturally; information that isn’t normally found on our CVs or LinkedIn profiles. In other words, the “real you”.

Personality profiling is used regularly in many organisations for both individuals and groups and reports are often used by coaches to help individuals to become more self-aware and to help teams bond more effectively.

In 2013, 57% of large employers in America were using personality profiling. In fact, almost 90% of Fortune 100 companies in America are now using personality tests, making it an industry of c$500 million a year!

So why are these personality profiles so popular? Business advisory group CEB, tells us that in 2014, 62% of HR professionals were using personality tests to vet candidates during the recruitment process and the increase in the number of graduates in the UK is often given as a reason for this surge in profiling. Employers are finding that there is very often very little to choose between students leaving university. They often have the same kind and level of qualification, sometimes from the same university, and personality profiles will often help them to differentiate between shortlisted job applicants.

Personality profiling will work when used by qualified practitioners and when used selectively. It won’t necessarily predict future behaviour but, if used properly, it really can help to differentiate between applicants. For example, identifying individuals with a high preference for extroversion and social interaction could become an interview discussion point if you are recruiting for somebody to join a highly analytical team in a working environment made up of small, one person offices.

Many argue that, anything which makes the difficult and highly expensive recruitment process more effective has got to be a good thing.

That said, I really do think that sometimes there is a danger of taking the easy way out when managers say that there is a “clash of personality” or that somebody’s personality “doesn’t fit with the team”. Leading to an argument for providing coaching and mentoring to staff, particularly graduates with no experience of the working environment. This can be effective in reduce staff turnover if issues are identified early and staff are given a chance to work through those issues.

However, and as I said earlier, many people are disparaging of personality profiling. “The Cult of Personality” (Annie Murphy Paul) claims that personality tests do nothing but help us to mismanage our companies and misunderstand ourselves. Others claim that personality profiling is like reality TV where programmes continue to flourish long after their initial popularity has faded into a memory. 

I qualified as a Myers Briggs practitioner over ten years ago and I can honestly say I loved every minute of the process. I’m now qualified in other tools and continue to find personality profiling fascinating. As a coach, and mentor, I work with clients to understand their preferences and their behaviours and, I have learned so much about myself as I have become more informed about the tests themselves. The way I see the world differently from others, particularly close family and friends has helped me to better understand people and to think about my own behaviour. It has helped me thing about what works for me and to make allowances for others.

I would really like to hear what your thoughts are on personality profiling and whether or not it has worked for you or your organisation and, if you are interested in having a personality profile for yourself or to talk more about coaching or mentoring, please get in touch at julie@konnectedpeople.co.uk.