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In my experience any request to ‘do a psychometric profile’ seems to cause an increase in anxiety levels and a slight feeling of unease. I rarely get people calling me to express their delight at having to complete one.

Part of the nervousness usually stems from some unknowns around ‘what are they looking for?’ and ‘what if it reveals I’m no good’.

Psychometrics can be really useful to give us a perspective and vocabulary around personality, habits, patterns and behaviours. However, what’s really important is to understand what the focus is and what to do with the output. Here’s my attempt to untangle some of the more commonly used types.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests: these measure our ability to learn, not to be confused with the amount of knowledge we have. It’s thought that our IQ is fairly stable in adulthood.

IQ tests tend to be used as part of recruitment processes to get a sense of our ability to process and sort information. There’s a school of thought that says we can increase our IQ by finding mental tricks and tools to sort information.

Trait or Personality tests: these look at how we like to do things and what’s important to us in a situation. Do we focus on people or task first? What does success look like to us; getting the problem completed quickly or coming up with a new way to approach a challenge.

Trait tends to be fairly static, it would, quite frankly, be odd if you suddenly woke up with a new personality! The power of these tests is being able to recognise your own habits and patterns and being aware that we’re not all the same. You don’t need to be fluent in other trait types but being able to speak a few words of your opposites language can be really useful. Commonly used trait tests include Myers-Briggs (MBTI) and Insights Discovery.

Emotional Intelligence (EQi) tests: these look our level of awareness and ability to deal with emotions in ourselves and those around us in a positive way. Essentially ‘do I know what I/others are feeling and how do I feel about that’.

EQi is determined by habituated thought patterns and useful to think of it like a piece of elastic. Left alone it’ll stay as it is, but put some energy and work into forming new patterns and awareness and you’ll change it. Logic will get you so far but if you want to be able to deal with the complexities of situations which are charged with emotion (which, let’s face it, many work situations are) having a high level of emotional intelligence can be extremely powerful.

We’re usually the harshest critics of the results which these tests generate, even when we’ve provided the input ourselves. We encourage clients to look at them as a starter for 10 to help other people understand how to help you be at your best. As one client said to me ‘I’ve just given this to my wife of 2 weeks and told her that this is basically my user manual!’

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