Personality Inventory

Definition and Use in Career Planning

Personality inventory or other assessment
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What is a Personality Inventory?

A personality inventory is an assessment tool that career counselors and other career development professionals use to help people learn what their personality type is. It reveals information about individuals' social traits, motivations, strengths and weakness, and attitudes. Experts believe these factors play an important role in job and career satisfaction. Individuals can use what they learn about themselves when they are choosing a career or deciding whether or not to accept a job offer.

Employers frequently use this tool, as well, to assist them in making hiring decisions. They can choose a candidate whose personality type makes him or her a good fit for a job.

How Can You Take a Personality inventory?

If you are working with a career counselor or other career development professional, he or she may offer to administer a personality inventory as part of a complete self assessment. Many publishers only allow qualified professionals, such as counselors and psychologists, to administer their products. Occasionally you can find online personality tests that claim to tell you what career is best for you. Beware of making decisions based on the results of these online tests because many of them lack test validity. That means they don't measure what they should and can lead you in the wrong direction.

What can you expect when your career counselor tells you she is going to have you take a personality inventory?

It depends on the one she is using. Some personality inventories are paper and pencil tests while others are computerized. Some take as little as 15 minutes to complete. Others can take close to an hour. There are often versions for people of different ages and reading abilities.

How You Can Use Your Results

The career development professional who administered the inventory should go over your results in order to help clarify them for you.

Some of what you learn about yourself may surprise you, but you may learn other things that won't. You may have traits and characteristics you didn't know you had or if you knew you had them, you may have not realized how strong their influence will be on your career satisfaction. For example, you may discover that you will enjoy your work more if it involves being around other people or you will be dissatisfied if your work lacks variety. You can use the results of a personality inventory to verify that a career you are considering is right for you or you can use them to help you find occupations you hadn't thought of before. Knowing about yourself will also allow you to decide if you will enjoy working in a particular environment.

What You Should Know About Personality Inventories

  • They can teach you about yourself which will, in turn, help you learn what occupations and work environments are a good fit.
  • You shouldn't use only a personality inventory to help you determine whether a career is right for you. There are other factors like interests, values and aptitudes that are also important.
  • They can't tell you what the perfect career is for you. You will have to explore occupations to find out if they are suitable for you based on your results. 

    Examples of Personality Inventories That Are Used in Career Assessment

    There are various personality inventories on the market. Here is a sampling. Your career counselor will choose the right one for you.

    Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): This is the most well known of all personality inventories. It was developed by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers based on Carl Jung's theory of personality type. The MBTI looks at the 16 personality types that indicate how an individual prefers to energize, perceive information, make decisions and live his or her life. 

    Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF): This inventory measures 16 primary personality factors that are thought to make up an individual's personality. Companies may use it to help with staff selection.

    NEO Personality Inventory: The NEO-PI looks at five dimensions of personality.

    It should be used only to confirm or clarify the results of other inventories.