A Comprehensive Guide To Personality Tests In 2019

Personality tests are increasingly used as a tool by employers from the Fortune 500 to small retailers to assess candidates fit for a particular job, and assess how a candidate will mesh in the larger team dynamic of a company. However, personality tests can also give individuals great insight into their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, communication styles, and help develop strategies to work with others.

College, high school students and even adults are using personality tests to help explore careers and new ways of working. For example, in an undergrad business class, I took 10 different personality tests and compiled the results into a paper where I applied it to my prospective career. While this was quite time-consuming and tedious, it was immensely beneficial to me as it helped me understand who I am and answered the age-old question of “what I want to be when I grow up”.  

We researched the personality test landscape, and created this guide to give our readers a broad overview of personality tests used to assess job candidates. If you are just looking to take a personality test to see where you fall, read the reviews section, and pick the best one for you.

9 Best Personality Tests At A Glance

Here are the 9 best personality tests that may help you find the right career or simply better understand yourself and your personality.

  1. 16 Personality Factors
  2. DISC
  3. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  4. The Big Five Personality Test (NEO PI-R)
  5. Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator
  6. The HEXACO Personality Inventory
  7. MAPP Career Assessment Test
  8. The Birkman Method
  9. Who Am I?

How We Chose The Best Personality Tests

Before we dive in, we wanted to give some background as to how we picked these personality tests and why they’re the best. We analyzed each personality test on several key factors which we outline here.

Popularity

We mainly focused on popularity because these tests are the ones you would be likely to encounter in the hiring process. Secondly, the popularity of these tests gives a good indication that they must be credible and provide useful information. To find the most popular personality tests, we compiled the results of many sites that provided information about the best personality tests into a master list and focused on the personality tests that appeared the most in that list.

Pricing

We compiled personality tests that you have to pay for as well as free personality tests for each test listed. This way, depending on your budget and how much information you desire, there are multiple options available to you. It is important to note that the free versions of the personality tests are usually less detailed than their counterparts.

Features

Questions

We looked at the types and numbers of questions and selected the tests that offered the most detailed results by asking the most detailed questions. Makes sense, right? The more information the site has, the more information about your personality it can provide you with. We preferred tests that asked questions on a five-point scale, such as from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” over simple true/false questions. The scale questions capture a more accurate representation of your views.

Reporting/Analysis

We selected tests that were computer based and automatically generated results. This is an important quality as it eliminates any human error in calculation and is immensely easier than trying to calculate a score with paper and a pencil. It was also important to choose tests that were available online for two reasons. Online tests are typically cheaper than ordering a paper-pencil version, and they are less complicated to take a personality test online. Additionally, online tests, such as the IPIP NEO PI-R, allow your results to be applied to others in your age range and gender, so the results are more accurate.

Reviews of the Best Personality Tests

16 Personality Factors (16PF)

Who Developed It

This personality test was developed over several decades by Dr. Raymond Cattell, who believed that personality corresponds to 16 different primary trait constructs. He argued that these traits exist on a continuum, meaning we possess all of these characteristics, but only up to a certain degree. This personality test parallels the Big Five Model, which we will cover later.

What It’s Used For

This scientifically validated assessment is primarily used to help establish a person’s personality. It is also used in various kinds of testing, including pre-employment and promotion testing as it examines an individual’s strengths and weaknesses while revealing hidden potential.

This personality test can also be used by mental health professionals to help diagnose psychiatric disorders.

Notable Companies That Use This Test

  • The Holiday Inn
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • The Home Depot
  • Hay Group

Taking The Test

The Fifth edition contains 185 multiple choice questions such as “I continue until everything is perfect” and “I like to solve complex problems”. You answer each statement on a five-point scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”. This personality test is untimed but takes the average person about 30 minutes to take it.

Scoring

Each item has three options – each choice is scored differently with strongly agree/agree earning 3 points, neither earning 2 points, and disagree/strongly disagree earning 1 point. The 16 personality factors in which you are assessed are: warmth, reasoning, emotional stability, dominance, liveliness, rule-consciousness, social boldness, sensitivity, vigilance, abstractedness, privateness, apprehension, openness to change, self-reliance, perfectionism, and tension.

Pricing

  • JobsTestPrep.com offers three different PrepPacks, each of which include different tools. Prices range from $79.00 to $108.00.
  • You can also take a less-detailed version here for free.

DISC

Who Developed It

The DISC was created by Dr. William Marston in 1928; however, he did not create an assessment instrument from his theory. Based on his model, many others have created DISC assessments, among the most popular is Wiley. Marston’s theory is centered on four different personality traits – dominance (D), influence (I), steadiness (S), and conscientiousness (C).

What It’s Used For

This tool measures an individual’s patterns of behavior and traits based on four different personality types: D, I, S, C. It provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves, as well as others. In addition to helping improve interpersonal communication, it can be used in leadership, executive development, and conflict management.

Notable Companies That Use This Test

  • Exxon Mobile
  • General Electric
  • Chevron
  • Walmart

These companies in particular are known to have strong management. Major governmental agencies and non-profits also use this test for hiring and recruitment.

Taking The Test

The most popular DiSC assessment is the Everything Disc Workplace questionnaire by Wiley, which contains approximately 80 items. You are asked to respond to a phrase such as “I can be pretty forceful with my opinions” on a five-point scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”. This test is untimed, but typically takes someone 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

Scoring

Scoring is done electronically and produces your unique profile report which includes your behavioral style, preferences, tendencies, and more. See the picture below for an example DiSC score.

Dot Location

As stated previously, each letter in DISC corresponds to a personality style. Each style is divided up into three regions, and a dot is placed on your unique DiSC style. For example, if your dot is located in the C region but also near the line that borders the S region, you would have a CS or SC style. The distance of the dot to the edge of the circle demonstrates how disposed a person is to the characteristics of the style.

Shading

Your map shading is important, too. The eight words encompassing the circle are referred to as priorities. The closer your shading is to a priority means you are more likely to focus your energy there. Everyone has at least three priorities.

Pricing

Pricing ranges depending on the type of test and size of team it is being applied to.

  • You can take Wiley’s popular Everything Disc Workplace Profile for $64.50 here.
    • Wiley also sells multiple other versions of DiSC tests and packages ranging up to $107.50 per person.
  • You can find several free DISC personality tests online. Here are a few of the best free versions.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

Who Developed It?

This assessment has its roots in two philosophies. The mother-daughter duo of Isabel and Katherine Cook Briggs were the creators of this test, but drew off the work of psychologist Carl Jung. The Briggs pair created this test in the early 1900’s to make the theory of psychological types that Jung described. The goal in creating this tool was to make personality types understandable and useful in people’s everyday lives. This is perhaps the most famous personality test ever created, and we’re willing to bet that almost everyone has at least heard of it.

What It’s Used For

This personality test helps you identify your preferred ways of doing things in four key areas: directing and receiving energy (extrovert versus introvert), taking in information (sensing versus intuition), making decisions (thinking versus feeling), and approaching the outside world (judging versus perceiving). These eight different areas combine to make 16 distinct personality types – I am ESTJ for example. The Myers & Briggs Foundation suggests types can be useful in many areas of life from personal relationships to careers to spirituality. In the workplace, conflicts can be avoided, and productivity can increase by placing employees whose types connect together. The MBTI is invaluable in helping you better understand yourself and those around you.

Notable Companies That Use This Test

  • 89 out of the Fortune 100 companies use this test during the hiring process
  • More than 100,00 companies in total administer this test
  • 2,500 colleges and universities
  • 200 government agencies in the United States

Taking The Test

The Official MBTI is comprised of 93 forced-choice questions, meaning you chose one of two possible answers to each question. It is untimed and takes around 15 minutes to complete the test.

Scoring

Based on your responses, you are placed into one of the 16 personality types (to read more about descriptions of each type, click here.). After completing the test, you will verify your type through an interactive session. Your results are then instantly generated and put in a downloadable report which provides details about your type. Beyond the report, you’ll gain access to the MBTI’s website that will help you tackle stress and receive personalized advice on careers and relationships.

Pricing

  • You can purchase the official MBTI test for $49.95 here.
  • You can also practice taking the MBTI here. Pricing for JobTestPrep ranges from $79.00 to $89.00 depending on the package.
  • There are also several good free versions online. Here are two of the best:

The Big Five Personality Test (NEO PI-R)

Who Developed It?

The International Personality Item Pool (IPIP) was organized by Wim K. B. Hofstee and his colleagues at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Paul T. Coasta, Jr. and Robert R. McCrae created the IPIP NEO-PI to assess people on the Big Five Model, which consists of conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extraversion. This personality test is considered by many psychologists the best inventory for measuring traits within the five-factor model; however, it is also important to note that several other IPIP personality tests exist. The IPIP-300 and IPIP-120 were developed by Lewis Goldberg and are very similar to the IPIP NEO-PI.

What It’s Used For

This assessment measures the Big-5 personality traits – CANOE is an acronym for them as my high school AP Psychology teacher taught us. This personality test provides a methodical evaluation of interpersonal, emotional, and motivational styles. These types of tests are becoming more and more common in the hiring process as they can compare scores between possible candidates and find the person best suited for the job. The type of jobs that commonly require personality testing are jobs in high stress environments with a quick pace, so it is critical that employees are fit for these challenges. It is important to note that this test does not reveal hidden or latent information about yourself and is not used to diagnose serious psychological disorders.

Taking The Test

There are two main versions of the IPIP NEO, the original 300 item inventory and the new 120 item version. Both tests assess the same traits, although the longer version is even more reliable. You are asked to rate items such as “make friends easily” or “love large parties” on a five-point scale from “very inaccurate” to “very accurate”. Neither test is timed. The 300-item version takes approximately 30-40 minutes, and the 120-item version takes 10-20 minutes.

Scoring

Before completing the inventory, the test asks you about basic demographic information so the system can compare you to others in your country that are your gender and your age range. Each of the five factors is comprised of six subdomains. For instance, extraversion has the subdomains of friendliness, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity level, excitement seeking, and cheerfulness. You are assessed on a scale from 0 to 100 for each main factor and each of the 30 facets. After completing the assessment, you will be taken to a page that thoroughly describes each main factor, as well as each subdomain, and relates it to your score.

Pricing

  • The IPIP NEO is free, and you can take both/either of the 120-tem and 300-item assessments here.
  • Another reliable and popular IPIP test is the NEO PI-R, which is a revised version of the IPIP NEO. It is based on the same concept. You can buy different packages of the test here that range from $56.95 to $1233.00.
    • Currently, all packages are 10% off.
  • You can also practice taking all of the IPIP tests here. Pricing for JobTestPrep ranges from $79.00 to $89.00 depending on the package.

Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (version 2.5)

Who Developed It

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson began developing this test in the early 1990’s.  The Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) is the world’s most popular enneagram test. Riso and Hudson discuss that everyone develops one of the nine personality types during childhood. This personality type drives how we think and see the world. They, along with most other enneagram developers, believe that everyone is born with one dominant type, meaning the environment does not play a role in personality development. Furthermore, they believe that people cannot change from one basic personality type to a different one.

What It’s Used For

This popular enneagram-based test combines traditional wisdom with modern psychology. According to the Enneagram Institute, this test is a “way of examining specifics about the structure of the human soul and particularly about the ways in which … qualities… become distorted or contracted.” Essentially, this test helps you see yourself on a deeper level, which is quite important in the journey of self-awareness. Aside from assisting an individual in discovering him or herself, many businesses utilize this tool to help employees determine the ways in which they’ll be most productive. Enneagram based tests are being used increasingly more in top companies, such as Motorola, as a powerful tool to enhance human potential. Enneagram based tests are also taught in Stanford MBA program and used by the CIA.  

Taking the Test

The enneagram classifies personality types into nine distinct sets in a nine-pointed figure shaped like a star. The official Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI) consists of 144 paired forced-choice statements, meaning there are only two options, and you must select one. After you have answered all the questions, the computer will automatically generate your individual  personality profile. The complete RHETI takes about 40 minutes to complete, and the RHETI sampler takes about 10 minutes.

Scoring

There are nine personality types which include the reformer, the helper, the achiever, the individualist, the investigator, the loyalist, the enthusiast, the challenger, and the peacemaker. For most people, their basic type is evident in their results as it is the highest score, although some people have a scattered distribution of scores. If you are still struggling to find your type, read about it here and here.

The nine personality types are reflected on the outside of the circle with numbers and are connected with each other by the inner lines of the circle. For example, points three, six, and nine form an equilateral triangle. Each one of these basic types consists of 27 sub-types, which are more specific versions of the main types. The one-word descriptors can be expanded into four-word descriptions. For instance, the reformer can be described as principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.

Pricing

  • The official RHETI costs $12 per test and you can purchase it here.
  • You can take the basic RHETI free sampler here and here.

The HEXACO Personality Inventory

Who Developed It

Kibeom Lee and Michael C. Ashton began construction of this assessment in 2000. Their assessment is based on the idea that there are six major dimensions of personality: honesty-humility (H), emotionality (E), extraversion (X), agreeableness (A), conscientiousness (C), and openness to experience (O). Lee and Ashton based their work on numerous independent lexical studies. The personality tool also has ties to the Big Five Model and other trait models.

What It’s Used For

The HEXACO model has been primarily used to investigate different areas of psychology, such as behavioral testing. Personality is an important fit when hiring for a position, so many businesses are using this assessment to screen applicants since a person’s personality determines their work ethic and how they will interact with other employees. More and more companies are turning to administering this test as it examines one more personality trait (honesty-humility) than the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Taking The Test

There are several versions of this test, a 60-question version for when time is short and a 100-question version for deeper research. The 60-question test takes roughly 12 minutes, and the 100-question version takes about 20 minutes. You will be asked to indicate your agreement or disagreement on a five-point scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” on questions such as “I often go for walks” or “I would be quite bored by a visit to an art gallery.”

Scoring

Each of the 6 broad traits contains four narrower facets; for example, emotionality is narrowed into courage, anxiety, sentimentality, and dependence. After taking the test, the computer will automatically generate your distinct personality report which tells you about each of the six broad traits and 24 sub-traits. The percentile numbers for each trait or sub-trait indicate the percentage of respondents whose scores are below a given number. For instance, 10% means 10% of all respondents are below the 10thpercentile. Your score is represented by the green dot and the median, or 50th percentile, score is the red line. The middle 80% of people’s scores are also represented by the grey bars.

Pricing

  • You can take the revised 100-item test here for free. Your score will be automatically generated by your computer with this assessment.
  • You can take the 60-tem test here for free, too. However, for this assessment, you will be required to calculate your own scores. Directions are provided on the website as well.
  • To read more about the scale descriptions, click here.

The Motivational Appraisal Personal Potential (MAPP) Career Assessment Test

Who Developed It?

Henry Neils started developing this test in 1995. Initially, this test’s objective was to stop “putting the wrong person in the wrong job in the lumber business, and they could come home in a pine box.” At first, this personality test took hours to take and took even more time to wait for a report. Over time, researchers have perfected this test, and subjected it to extensive reliability and validity testing. This assessment is so popular that over 8 million people have taken this test in almost every country since its inception.  

What It’s Used For

This assessment doesn’t just tell you your personality – it actually matches you with a career(s) that matches your interests and motivations. This tool is primarily used by students who are figuring out what they want to be, adults who are unsatisfied in their current jobs, and people who are unemployed and want to make their next career step. Many guidance counselors use this test for high school and middle school students to point them in the right direction. I vividly remember taking this test my freshman year of high school with my guidance counselor. It is also sometimes used in the hiring process to help HR professionals make good decisions. Essentially, this personality test will help place people with a job that motivates them, thus reducing turnover.

Taking The Test

The MAPP Career Assessment consists of 71 questions regarding likes and dislikes. Their websites advises participants to take it quickly and reflexively to best capture their true self. After registering, you are given three preferences in which you choose one statement that you most prefer, one that you least prefer, and leave the other one blank.  The statements include questions such as “make your living as a salesperson” and “be an independent professional or specialist”. It is untimed but takes around 22 minutes to complete.

Scoring

The computer will generate your profile automatically after completion of the test. The free version allows you to see the second 10 top career matches as well as offering MAPP career matching for up to five careers. MAPP career matching gives a complete list of career categories and their subsequent careers that you can match yourself to. The more complete version gives detailed additional information such as temperament for the job, how you relate to people, mathematical capacity, language capacity and much more. It also offers your top 10 career areas.

Pricing

  • The MAPP Starter Assessment, which offers a much more detailed set of results, is $89.95. The website also offers two other packages.
    • Currently, the website is offering 30% off all packages with the promo code being 30OFF.
  • You can also take a free version of the test here.

The Birkman Method

Who Developed It

Organizational psychologist Roger W. Birkman published this test in 1951. He became interested in individual psychological differences while serving during WWII after he was shot down piloting a plane over Belgium. After escaping the Nazi grasp, he returned to the United States in a journey to understand human nature. He sought to create a tool that would measure social expectations, stress behaviors, and occupational interests that would be valuable to both work and social life.  

What It’s Used For

This scientifically reliable and valid assessment of personality has been completed by millions of users. More and more companies are using this test during the hiring process as it provides data applied to match jobs to personal interests, stress management, and natural strengths. It can also be used in organizations to develop leaders through executive coaching and to resolve conflict. In fact, over 8,000 companies use this assessment.

Notable Companies That Use This Test

  • AT&T
  • Coca-Cola
  • IBM

Taking The Test

The Birkman Method personality test is comprised of 298 questions – 125 are about others, 125 about yourself, and 48 about your interests. The 250 questions about others and yourself are true or false, while the 48 questions about your interests are multiple choice. This test is untimed and typically takes someone 30-45 minutes to complete.

Scoring

Results are available immediately prior to completing the inventory. For each category of report (behaviors, stress management, motivations, and organizational orientation), there is a different way of analyzing results. For simplicity’s sake, we will examine the Birkman chart, which is a constant no matter what report is chosen. The chart is divided into four quadrants: red, yellow, green, and blue. The top and bottom quadrants determine if you work best with direct involvement or indirect involvement. The right and left quadrants determine if you are task or people orientated. The four colors of the chart represent characteristics of your personality. An asterisk is placed where your interests lie, a diamond is placed where your usual style is, a square indicates your stress behavior, and a circle indicates where your needs lie. The individualized report specifies what color you are and your characteristics.

Pricing

The official Birkman website offers over 40 report styles, – their most popular package is the Birkman Basics report.

  • The Birkman Basics report covers the Birkman map, Birkman interests, strengths, career exploration, and an action plan for $129.00.
  • Another popular report is the Birkman Assessment package which includes a 60-90-minute one-on-one consultation with a Birkman Certified Consultant for $625.00.
  • View/purchase both of these reports here.
  • You can also practice taking the Birkman Method test here. Pricing for JobTestPrep ranges from $79.00 to $89.00 depending on the package.

Who Am I?

Who Developed It

This personality test was created by the VisualDNA company. This test is a little different than the others in this list as it is a little elementary, but it brings a smile to your face. VisualDNA psychologists based this test on the Big-5 personality model.

What It’s Used For

This fun and unique test focuses more on your personality and less on careers as it offers an insightful look into who you really are. How your character defines your outlook and approach to life is revealed through the Big-5 personality traits (in case you don’t remember, they are conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extraversion). This would be a good test for someone who is struggling to figure out their personality and behaviors.

Taking The Test

Formatted less like the question and answer layouts of the tests previously listed, this test offers 4-15 photos per question, such as “How do you feel when you’re stressed?”. After answering some basic demographic questions, you are given a series of pictures and you pick the one picture that most relates to you. It is not timed and takes around 15 minutes to complete.

Scoring

Results are automatically generated after completion and are available to view right away. You are given a type; for example, I am a strategist. The five personality traits are presented in beakers with percentages from 0% to 100%.

Pricing

  • You can take VisualDNA’s Who Am I test here for free.

What We Learned

After researching the best personality tests, a few things became evident to us – one is the prevalence of the Big-5 personality traits (remember the CANOE acronym?). In five of our top nine personality tests, these five personality traits were evident. This suggests the scientific validity and reliability of the Big 5 in psychology.

We also found it compelling just how many Fortune 500 companies use personality tests during the hiring process. This also goes to the reliability and validity of these tests, especially the MBTI, which is used by 89 of Fortune 100 companies.

Here’s our top 9 one more time

  1. 16 Personality Factors
  2. DISC
  3. Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator
  4. The HEXACO Personality Inventory
  5. MAPP Career Assessment Test
  6. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  7. The Big Five Personality Test (NEO PI-R)
  8. The Birkman Method
  9. Who Am I?