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Central Standard

The Practicality Of Personality Tests

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There are multiple tests out there that reduce your personality to a number, a one-word description, or a series of letters. Some say they’ve helped match the right person to the right job—maybe even to the right colleagues or romantic partners. But is personality simple enough to fit in such a box, or could a personality label lead people to change it, or live into it?

Personality tests are growing in popularity, from helping you get to know your spouse or partner, to helping you get to know your employee. Knowing someone's personality type not only helps you to know characteristics of that person, but helps in understanding why and how they make the decisions they make. 

Many companies are now requiring some sort of personality or character assessment as part of the interviewing process for new employees. Usually they are looking for an individual with certain kind of characteristics who will "fit in" with their environment or preconceived notion of how their employees should be. For instance, in searching for a customer service position, a company may want to screen for individuals who are friendly and extroverted. Or perhaps in searching for a banker, a company may want to screen individuals for honesty and personableness. 

Personality screening for jobs started before World War II when the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), the precursor to the CIA, started using personality assessments to determine which individuals would make the best spies. Now, businesses contact individuals such as Dr. Jared Lock, Co-founder of Convergent Group in Kansas City, and owner of JDL Group, which is an organization that specializes in these kinds of assessments.

Lock helps a company identify where they are coming from and where they're going and what is most important to a company. Based on these assessments, both the employer and the potential employee will know if they're the right fit for the job or not. Sometimes this means that an individual could be turned down based on their personality test scores. However, Lock affirms that an individual must think about if they want a job, or a career. The fact is, some people just might not have the personality for a certain line of work.


  • Dr. Jared Lock, Co-founder of Convergent Group in Kansas City, and owner of JDL Group
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As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. Follow me on Twitter @ptsbrian or email me at brian@kcur.org.
Matthew Long-Middleton has been a talk-show producer, community producer, Media Training Manager and now the Community Engagement Manager at KCUR. You can reach him at Matthew@kcur.org, or on Twitter @MLMIndustries.