Updated: Aug 25, 2019
An alternate version of this article originally appeared on the blog home of the private club consulting firm, RCS Hospitality Group.
Have you ever taken a personality test?
These tools are becoming more and more popular with employers as we strive to hire workers with specific qualities, rather than skills. After all, skills can be taught--but inherent qualities cannot.
This is particularly important in the hospitality industry. We can train you to be a good server or hostess, but if you aren't naturally hospitable, friendly, and helpful, all the skills in the world won't make you truly GREAT.
The Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology (SOIP) says the most commonly measured personality traits in work settings are extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to new experiences, optimism, agreeableness, service orientation, stress tolerance, emotional stability, and initiative or proactivity.
The goal is to assess whether individuals have the potential to be successful in jobs where performance requires a great deal of interpersonal interaction or work in team settings--precisely as in hospitality.
Personality tests are not just limited to the hiring stage. Many clubs, hotels, and resorts (and the leadership teams within them) find conducting a personality test helps their managers understand themselves better and gain new perspectives on their colleagues.
It's important to note that a test is not enough. There is little purpose to the data without an accompanying training session, including role-playing exercises, situational brainstorming, and contextual knowledge.
And of course, no personality test is perfect or all-encompassing. Human individuality is too complex for any one system to explain adequately. They are simply another tool that can help you understand yourself and those around you a little better.
Here are the four most frequently used personality tests (in no particular order).
1. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The most recognized is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test, which most people are familiar with even if they haven't taken the test themselves. The MBTI groups individuals into one of 16 different "types," made up of combinations of eight main traits:
Introversion or Extraversion (I/E)
Sensing or Intuition (S/N)
Thinking or Feeling (T/F)
Judging or Perceiving (J/P)
The result is a four-letter "type": for example, an individual with an INTJ personality would embody the traits of Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Judging. This type describes how the individual sees the world and themselves, describes their typical approach to problem-solving and crisis management, how they interact with other people, and more.
2. The "Big Five" Personality Test
Also known as the five-factor model (FFM), the Big Five is based on five common language descriptors of personality:
Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/detached)
Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved)
Openness (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious)
Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident)
Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless)
Beneath each one of these proposed descriptors are several correlated and more specific factors. For example, "extraversion" is said to include related qualities like gregariousness, assertiveness, excitement seeking, and warmth.
Research has suggested that individuals who are considered leaders typically exhibit:
lower amounts of neurotic traits,
maintain higher levels of openness (envisioning success),
balanced levels of conscientiousness (well-organized), and
balanced levels of extraversion (outgoing, but not excessive).
3. A DISC Assessment
A DISC Assessment is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory, which centers on four different behavioral traits:
Dominance: Emphasis on accomplishing results, the bottom line, confidence
Influence: Emphasis on influencing or persuading others, openness, relationships
Steadiness: Emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, dependability
Conscientiousness: Emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise, competency
A DISC assessment measures your tendencies and preferences: your patterns of behavior. It does not measure intelligence, aptitude, or values.
The resultant profiles describe human behavior in various situations. For example, a standard DISC questionnaire might ask about how you respond to challenges, how you influence others, how you react to rules and procedures, and about your preferred pace of activity.
4. True Colors
The True Colors test is a personality profiling system that seeks to categorize four basic personality types using colors:
Blue: People-oriented, friendly, emotionally aware
Orange: Action-oriented, energetic, adventurous
Gold: Pragmatic planners, responsible, dependable
Green: Independent thinkers, logical, problem solvers
A key characteristic of the True Colors approach is the assumption that individuals possess all four colors within their personality, but with varying concentrations. Personality is more like a spectrum, as opposed to a single color block.
It doesn't pigeonhole people into one personality type over another. True Colors operates with the understanding that one's personality might make adjustments based on his or her environment or associations. Rather, the test is a way to understand the behaviors and motivations of others relative to our own personalities, to help mitigate potential conflict by learning to recognize personality differences and characteristics.
This is the model that we used at RCS to develop our personality testing and training program, Discover Your Personality Spectrum, with great success.
So, have you taken any of these tests? What did you think of your results? Let us know by Tweeting us @ConsultingRCS!
Grace Everitt is a published writer & editor with nearly ten years of experience in both digital and print media. She is also the president of Grace Marketing Group, and spends her time bouncing between Florida and California.