Why Shouldn’t You Leave Career Decisions To Psychometric Tests?

myers briggs psychometric tests
Lately, the craze for psychometric tests has grown exponentially, and people of every segment are using them to plot themselves on the personality and talent graph. Not just in corporate offices. If you are student, there is a high chance that you have been recommended one by your school or career counsellor.
Psychometry is the result of human curiosity to define personalities. It has always been a popular field of study since 400 BC, the time of Greek physician, Hippocrates. But those were simpler times when everyone fit into any one of four personality categories.

What are Psychometric Tests?

Based on your answers to some standard questions, Psychometric tests classify you into predefined behavioural types, or buckets if you will. The point of it? To identify your behavioural pattern in different scenarios. This would help narrow down to which profession or career you fit into, based on your personal characteristics and cognitive abilities.

The Psychometric Evolution

There’s no exact pattern in which psychometric classification evolved over the years. However, modern psychometric tests connect personality traits with colours and zodiac signs. Each colour corresponds to a set of personality traits. But none of them are as popular as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which has 93 questions that gauge you on 16 different scenarios mentioned in the image below, and will catalogue you based on 4 pairs of personality types.

Popular Psychometric Tests

There are so many similar psychometric tests online. And most of them are free too. They test you for a variety of qualities, like aptitude, verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, abstract reasoning and personality. The most popular of them all is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, and 89 of the Fortune 100 companies vouch for it. It’s even become a standard procedure in many management and leadership courses and over 200 federal agencies in the U.S. use these results to identify the inclinations of an employee, and provide roles and responsibilities accordingly. About 2 Million people take the Myers Briggs test. Every year. And the revenue they get is about $20 Million. That’s how enormous the psychometric market is.

Interpretation of Myers Briggs Results

myers briggs psychometric tests
The 4 pairs of personality traits are,

Extraversion or Introversion (E-I)
Sensing or Intuition (S-N)
Thinking or Feeling (T-F)
Judging or Perceiving (J-P)

The results consist of 4 letters, and the personality is deduced based on the sequence of those letters. The first letter represents the Dominant function, which has the most influence on you. The second is Auxiliary function, which complements the Dominant function. The third strongest quality is the tertiary function. The weakest trait is the fourth, and is termed Inferior function. For example, if your results turn out to be INFP, it infers you are Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F) and Perception (P), with Introversion being your strongest quality and Perception being your weakest.

The Accuracy Fallacy

But the weirdest thing is, there’s no scientific methodologies to prove how accurate these test results are. After all, people who took the test for the second time, after about 5 weeks, got different results. Despite all that, more and more people swear by these tests.
Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine Briggs formulated the The Myers Briggs Type Indicator. They based their test on the theories of Carl Jung, who is called the founder of Analytical Psychology. But neither women had had psychological training. And their motive was to come up with a useful test to classify women for ideal workplace roles during World War II.
A basic element in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator is to determine if a candidate is an introvert, extrovert, perceiver, feeler or one category or the other. But Carl Jung himself has said, “Every individual is an exception to the rule.” And that means, no person can always be an introvert, nor always an extrovert. That explains why the same person, answering the same questions, gets two different results on two different days. This is also why no psychologists approve of it. Ironically, not even the leading psychologists on the board of the company would use these tests in their research. What if their academic colleagues questioned them?
Leaving career decisions to psychometric tests is leaving it to chance. Or even worse; to snake oil salesmen. Have you taken a psychometric test? How did the results turn out? Was the evaluation or the method accurate? Share with us.

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  1. June 27, 2016

    […] tests, including and most prominently the very famous Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), yield different result sets when taken by the same individual at a different […]

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  1. […] tests, including and most prominently the very famous Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), yield different result sets when taken by the same individual at a different […]

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