Could a psychometric questionnaire help you pick a career?

Catherine Alexander, careers adviser here at the Careers Service, shares how taking psychometric tests can help you decide which path to take

Psych tests = hoops you have to jump through in assessment centres! Yes…and no. Some, like the Profiling for Success Values-based Indicator of Motivation, are questionnaires (not tests) designed to help you work out what really drives you, rather than what drives your friends, parents, grandparents, lecturers…

Something like a Values/Motivation questionnaire is just one tool to help you work out what career might suit you. It won’t tell you exactly which career path to take but it’s a good starting point to get you thinking about what you really want from a job.

It’s about articulation

Ask many people what motivates them and you generally get some sweeping statements about “helping people”, “making a difference”, “creativity”, “giving something back”, “career progression” – but, when pushed, many find it difficult to articulate what they actually mean by these things. It’s even harder to prioritise them and work out which of your values are fundamental to job satisfaction and which you’d be happy to keep in the ‘life’ part of one’s ‘work-life balance’.

We all have values, and finding a job that aligns with our own is important to personal job satisfaction. I completed the Profiling for Success Values-based Indicator of Motivation recently (available free via the Careers Service website). There are a lot of questions but you can rattle through them quite quickly. Answer instinctively rather than pondering what you think you’re expected to say and you’ll get a much more accurate report at the end of it.

It will analyse and order your answers about 23 different values and send you a report. It gives you insights about what is really important to you, as opposed to what you think is important at a more conscious level. The questions are ‘designed to clarify and challenge your ideas, to question whether some are superficial and identify what is more fundamental to you’.

This really isn’t a test!

There are no right or wrong answers and you don’t get a score out of 10. Not everyone can be Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela. It really doesn’t matter if you’re secretly motivated by a wish to become famous at all costs: far better to recognise this and work out what you’d like to be known for.

So what did my report say? Well that’s for my eyes only, but apparently there are very good reasons why my job as a careers adviser makes me happy! See other personality questionnaires and our psychometric test resources to help you both work out what you want to do and get through those tests at assessment centres (should you need to).

Want more help in deciding what to do early in your career? Explore our I’m looking for ideas pages to get started

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