So, you’re ready to enter the world of self-discovery that a personality test can lead you to. Whatever type of test you choose, it will help you the most if you take measures to ensure that your results are as authentic as possible.
When it comes to making your testing experience more effective, how you think about, approach, and take the test, as well as how you view your results, can make a difference in your ability to get the most benefit from the experience.
After all, the point of a personality test is to help you understand yourself better, with all your strengths, weaknesses, aptitudes and tendencies. Then you can use the insights provided for better communication, better relationships, and a more fulfilling work life, or whatever your reason for wanting to know more about yourself.
1. Define your reason for taking it
If you know your main objective for taking a particular personality test, you can approach how you answer questions with that in mind.
For example, if you’re most interested in getting to know your overall personality type, improve relationships, or find the right career, you can think most about how you’d respond in those situations when you consider how to answer a question.
You might answer differently when you’re thinking of your approach to your career than when you’re considering your personal life.
On the other hand, if you want a more well-rounded picture of yourself, imagine your approach to various situations when choosing your answers.
Being honest and clear about your motives will help you go into the test with the mindset of getting accurate results that will help you meet your objective. And if you answer yes to the last question, you can acknowledge that desire but then maybe put it aside for a bit, so you can learn what you’re really like, even if it’s different from the way you currently see yourself.
2. Take the same test more than once
Just like you might want to get a second opinion after a medical diagnosis, you might find it beneficial to take the same test a second time to see if your results are the same. Of course, since we may change somewhat over time, it could be a good idea to take the test at various points in your life.
But you may also want to take the test again soon after your first test, just to make sure your type is accurate. Especially if you’re not quite comfortable with your results, taking a second test could yield a different result that feels more authentic. Or it could confirm your original results, giving you more confidence in them.
You could also take a longer or shorter version of the same test, or take it from a different venue, to see if the slightly different questions or format feel more comfortable to you.
3. Take more than one type of test
Even though different tests have different kinds of questions, and categorize your personality type differently, there are some commonalities as well. If you take more than one kind of test, you can start to identify overall patterns in your approach to life, for a more well-rounded idea of how you think and function.
For example, if one of your dominant traits is creativity, or organization, or caring for others, then your findings from different tests will start to overlap, giving a sense of confirmation for these dominant traits, even if they’re worded somewhat differently from test to test.
You might also find out that some styles of tests or personality typing systems feel more comfortable to you. If you find the right test, you might feel like it gives you a more relatable picture of yourself.
4. Don’t confuse habits with traits
Just like we can confuse our identity with what we do, we could confuse habits we’ve gotten into for situational reasons with personality traits.
- Your large family favors noisy, crowded social gatherings. Many of your family members are Extraverts, and plan family activities accordingly. Since you’ve learned to adapt so as not to be left out, maybe you think of yourself as an Extravert. But are you?
Ask yourself – Do I often feel drained after these events? Would I really prefer a quiet chat with a few people, or even spending the evening alone with a good book? Do I feel like something’s wrong with me when compared to my gregarious relations? If so, you might be a closet Introvert.
Your job requires you to focus on numbers and other data that is heavy on facts and short on interpretation or softer skills. You might think this means you’re a Thinker, not a Feeler. But could it just mean you’ve just adapted to deliver what’s expected of you?
Do you sometimes find yourself thinking: but how does this information/policy affect the people involved; I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this; there must be more to the story? Or maybe you just feel dissatisfied with the limits you’re working within.
It may turn out you’re really a Feeler who’s been forcing yourself to behave like a facts-only Thinker.
If something like the above scenarios seems to fit your situation, then make allowances for that bias when you take the test. Really think about what feels authentic to you as a person.
Instead of answering according to what you’ve done because of circumstances, or thinking that what you do is who you are, try answering according to your real preferences. Choose what feels natural to you, what you would do if you felt free to just be yourself.
5. Don’t try to ‘cheat’
Maybe you’ve heard that type X is the best fit for the job you want, or you read the description for type Y, and it appeals to you – or doesn’t appeal to you. Whatever the case, you may go into the test hoping, even trying, for certain results.
If you’re test-savvy, you can probably read where the questions are heading and choose the answers most likely to give you the outcome you want. But it may not be the most accurate one. It isn’t about what type you want to be, but what is truly the best fit.
No one type is “better” than the other. What you’re aiming for is self-understanding and authenticity.
If you’re a size 12, but you always ask for an 8 because you like the sound of it, you’re going to feel uncomfortable in your clothes. Similarly, if you try to force yourself into a type, instead of finding out what your true fit is, you won’t get the most benefit from the test.
Just like with any test, if you cheat, you deprive yourself of the educational benefits of taking the test. In this case, it's education about yourself.
If you go in with an open mind and do your best to get an accurate outcome, then accept the findings instead of trying to fit yourself into another type. This might put you on the road to not only self-understanding but also self-acceptance.
6. Look in another mirror
We all tend to be too close to see ourselves objectively, so it helps to get another point of view.
If you ask your friends or family members– people who know you pretty well – how they see you, you’re likely to get a more accurate, balanced picture.
If you’re taking an informal test at home, you might even consider asking a friend to take it as if they were you. They might not get it all right, because even those close to us don’t know everything about us, but it can help us to see ourselves through a different lens.
At least have a conversation about how they see you, and why. This could also help you make sense of your results after you’ve taken the test. If you’re not sure if your type seems to fit you, ask what they think.
Though you can’t fail a personality test, and there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers, you do want your test to yield the right answers for you. The point isn’t what the outcome of the test is, but how accurate it is.
How you approach the test – before, during, and even after taking it – can aid you in getting your best answers to aid in your search for self-understanding.