I failed a personality test!

Yes, you read that correctly. It was the strangest thing because I never knew you could fail a personality test. I'm not even sure what I did to fail the personality test.

Okay, that sounds dramatic, and it makes for a great bit of comedy, but it turns out to be a reality that many people face. Immediately after I was informed that I failed it I called a friend of mine to mention it to him, only to have him tell me that he's failed a couple of them over all these years. In essence, the failure is more of a "we don't think you're the right fit for our organization."

Wow. What happened to the days when you got to talk to people on the phone, then they checked your references and all would be fine with the world. Okay, that's a bit too pollyanna about the past, but in most of my dealings, back when I was a traditional employee and now as a consultant, I had the opportunity to at least have a conversation with the potential client.

Anyone I've ever talked to has said that I'm engaging and friendly, whether I ended up getting the gig or not. Knowledgeable; I love that one. References; impeccable. I like to say that I have a history of success, and I have people who can vouch for me on that front.

But some companies have decided that's not enough for employees in today's world. Personality tests seem to give companies just that bit more of what they're looking for within their doors. But just what are personality tests about?

The basic premise about most personality tests is that they're supposed to give an indication as to whether or not the person you're having take one is dangerous or not. Yet, one could imagine that a dangerous person would know how to take a personality test and say the right things; almost every serial killer interviewed in this country has been found to be engaging and smart; that's kind of scary, isn't it? John Wayne Gacy was not only a performer but a great artist. Ted Bundy was called good looking and intelligent; not quite what people think of when they think of bad guys.

Well, me being me, I couldn't just let it totally go. So I decided to take another personality test, this time the 300 question International Personality Item Pool Representation of the NEO PI-Râ„¢, which breaks things down into 5 categories. Let's see what it came up with in general about me:

* Your score on Extraversion is average, indicating you are neither a subdued loner nor a jovial chatterbox. You enjoy time with others but also time alone.

* Your level of Agreeableness is average, indicating some concern with others' Needs, but, generally, unwillingness to sacrifice yourself for others.

* Your score on Conscientiousness is high. This means you set clear goals and pursue them with determination. People regard you as reliable and hard-working.

* Your score on Neuroticism is average, indicating that your level of emotional reactivity is typical of the general population. Stressful and frustrating situations are somewhat upsetting to you, but you are generally able to get over these feelings and cope with these situations.

* Your score on Openness to Experience is average, indicating you enjoy tradition but are willing to try new things. Your thinking is neither simple nor complex. To others you appear to be a well-educated person but not an intellectual.

Let's see... average across the board except for the part about being seen as reliable and hard working. What more does one want from a consultant?

Truthfully, this is why I've always had a bias against personality tests. Putting people into categories based on how they answer questions is like bumping someone back a grade in school because they failed one test out of hundreds. There's always something to disagree with when these tests come out (heck, I wanted to be seen as an intellectual lol). And, unless someone's test came out showing them to be a psychopath, I'm wondering just what constitutes being a fit or not.

When all else fails and you need a potential equalizer to help you select the right person, or if you want to do some self evaluation, maybe a test like this helps. Otherwise, if you can't trust your own intuition or the words of others who know someone better than you, then maybe you're in the wrong position. Yeah, I know; you fail a personality test and let me know how you feel.