You thought you were all prepared for your latest job interview. You looked professional, had your resume and references ready to go, and had practiced plenty of possible questions and answers. What you didn’t expect was that personality test–how can you tell if that helped or hurt you?

Personality tests are a hiring tool and have been around for decades. They can help employers figure out if a candidate is a good match for the company culture or in a specific role, they can help teams work more effectively together, and they can help individual nurses assess what their strengths and weaknesses might be.

But can you pass a personality test? Not really.

It’s true that some companies rely on the personality tests because they can indicate a good fit for a new hire. But many of the tests are designed so you can’t try to beat the system and give only answers the company wants. Practicing for these tests isn’t really an option, so fretting about it won’t boost your chances at a job.

But knowing a little about your own personality can help you in your current job or even help prepare you for a job search.

A test like the Myers-Briggs personality type test can give you insight to how you work best, but isn’t necessarily the best indicator of how you will perform professionally. Are you someone who likes to lead a group or do you prefer to work behind the scenes to take care of the details? Do you like to learn by listening or by doing?

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Taking the tests can also help you work better within you team if you take a good assessment of your true strengths and your weaknesses as well. Knowing your own personality points can also help when you interact with patients and their families. If you are aware of things that make you tick or of situations that irritate you because of your natural personality style, you can work to overcome or compensate for your own bias and focus on how your patient might work best.

For instance, you might work best pushing through something like intense physical therapy by drawing on your own inward strength and focusing that way. A patient might prefer to have a coach or a family member always pushing them along and offering constant vocal encouragement. If you can understand your basic differences, you’ll focus on offering the needed encouragement, rather than telling your patient to look within for strength.

If you can convince your colleagues or even your close family members to take the test, it might reveal a few surprises. If nothing else, knowing how other people perform best is something that can only help in the fast-paced nursing environment or in your day-to-day home life.

Personality tests have a place in some hiring and employment strategies, but you can’t really figure out how to pass one. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot from finding out how you work at your optimal level and discovering what makes you tick. Doing so can improve relationships and your on-the-job performance.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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