Competency and Personality Tests - a comprehensive review


Business Coaching-Personality tests review

Nowadays, personality tests are no longer only the domain of psychologists. They find more and more use in the business world, and can also be an excellent tool for individual self-discovery.


I will try to briefly organize the knowledge on this subject and before we proceed to the comparison of specific tests, I will provide some information on the modeling methods of various tests.


Personality is a very complex structure and, frankly speaking, psychology as a science has a problem with an unambiguous and precise definition of this concept to this day. So before we decide to choose a test, let's be aware of whether we are talking about a personality, competence or behavior test.


It is also important to understand whether a given test is an ipsative test, i.e. showing how the subject assesses themselves, or a normative one, i.e. showing how the subject is perceived by others.


Personality tests - two basic types

In psychological practice, two types of research are distinguished:


  1. The first is psychometric tests. They are based on appropriately constructed (and, importantly, calibrated on a sufficiently large and representative test group) questionnaires and assume that the subjects will be completely honest when answering individual test questions. Proper testing and calibration of the test algorithm before it is available "on the market" is of great importance for the credibility of its results. The answers are influenced by such aspects as gender, age, or even the country's culture. In dry language, a credible test must meet 5 scientific criteria: validity, reliability, standardization, objectivity, and normalization.

  2. The second type is called projection testing. These are personality studies in which the examined person creates and presents various types of artifacts using their subconsciousness. In simplified terms, it can be said that it corresponds to the principle of associations. For this purpose, specially-developed creative or introspective exercises are used. The examined person knows about being the subject of the test, but gives answers unconsciously, not knowing what the given exercise is related to.


In our comparison, we will mainly focus on psychometric tests. They are easily accessible, especially online. And projection tests are mainly used in clinical practice, so they are really aimed at diagnosing serious disorders.



1. The Big 5 Model, a five-factor personality test by Paul Costa and Robert McCrae

The method called "The Big 5" is one of the best known. It also forms the basis for other personality tests available today to understand and measure human behavior (see e.g. Hogan Tests below).

The personality test of Paul Costa and Robert McCrae is divided into five main areas known by the acronym "OCEAN":


  • Openness to experience

  • Conscientiousness

  • Extroversion

  • Agreeableness

  • Neuroticism


This personality test has gained a lot of popularity due to its reliability:

starting from clinical applications and ending with interviews for work or coaching cooperation. Many professionals in these fields also see The Big 5 Model as a very good foundation for developing more detailed personality tests or supplementing it with behavior and competence tests.


It just so happens that the offer of the Great People Inside company, which I represent in Poland, also includes The Big 5 questionnaire. The Big 5 test includes 20 questions, and its cost is around 40 USD.


2. Personality Test - Sixteen Personality Factor (16PF)

The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, abbreviated as the 16PF, is one of the most respected in-depth personality tests on the market. You can do it for free in different languages at the link above.


It is the result of many decades of work and analysis by Raymond B. Cattell. Dr. Cattel was a British psychologist known primarily for his immense contributions to the field of personality and intelligence research. It was Cattel who proposed, for example, the concepts of fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.


The 16PF personality test is constantly updated and adapted to the changing realities of our world, but its essence remains the same. It consists of 16 primary scales (and five factors of secondary importance).


The key factors are as follows:


  • factor A (Warmth): cyclothymia – schizothymic

  • factor B (Reasoning): high intelligence – low intelligence

  • factor C (emotional stability): emotional maturity – neuroticism

  • factor E (Dominance): domination– submission

  • factor F (Liveliness): surgency – resurgence

  • factor G (Rule Consciousness): high superego – low superego

  • factor H (Social Boldness): mental resistance - lack of mental resistance

  • factor I (Sensitivity): sensitivity – insensitivity

  • factor L (Vigilance): excessive suspicion - lack of suspicion

  • factor M (Abstractedness): unconventionality-conventionality

  • factor N (Privateness): rationalism-simplicity

  • factor O (Apprehension): depressive self-confidence

  • Q1 factor (Openness to Change): radicalism-conservatism

  • Q2 factor (Self-reliance): self-sufficiency – group dependence

  • Q3 factor (Perfectionism): high self-esteem - low self-esteem

  • Q4 factor (Tension): high ergic tension – low ergic tension

As a result of the test, we get an assignment to one of the 16 distinguished personality types, which in turn are grouped into 4 main categories:

  1. Analysts

  2. Diplomats

  3. Guardians

  4. Explorers

Here is an example of a preliminary description of an "Architect" personality that belongs to the Analyst category:


"There is loneliness at the very top, and people with one of the rarest and most strategically gifted personality types know it all too well. Architects make up only two percent of the population. This personality type is especially rare among women, with a percentage of just 0. 8% - so it is often difficult for them to find people who think similarly to them, follow their tireless intellect, and almost chess maneuvers. Architects have a vivid imagination but are determined, ambitious, but value privacy, extremely curious about the world, but do not waste energy. "


Personally, I really like this test, and more specifically the report that you receive as a result of it. It is written in a very accurate and imaginative language.



3. Myers-Briggs personality test, otherwise known as MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator)

The MBTI questionnaire is a personality test known to be based on the work of Carl Jung. The test itself was developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs-Myers.