2023 · career

stop worrying about your personality test results

A couple of years ago, my newly-minted CMO at a tech company where I worked asked everyone on our team to complete the 16 Personalities test. It was the second or maybe even the third personality test we’d done as a team, but it was always fun to see the results.

Until… it kinda wasn’t.

I sat in the room as everyone’s personality type was presented. Person after person was named The Protagonist or The Logician, The Commander, The Architect, The Campaigner, The Executive, or The Logistician.

I, on the other hand, was The Mediator – dubbed the emotional one who just wanted everyone to get along.

Even the image felt a little icky: it looked like an elf picking flowers in the forest. My CMO joked about how much it looked just like how he imagined my vibe.

Perhaps ironically, when I’d first read the description, I had thought “YES! That is me!”

I was thrilled to find that the results seemed to align with how I felt in my career: passionate about helping other people reach their potential and grow.

But, as it was presented to the group, I felt more and more like my results held me back: what if I was too quiet in team meetings and too sensitive and too worried about being seen as authentic and transparent to truly be successful as a leader?

Suddenly, I felt jealous of those who had been found as the other types, and The Protagonist, in particular, perhaps mostly because my CMO teed them up as the most likely successful future leaders in the group.

From that day on, I worried about my personality test results and how they would impact me. I decided I was anti-personality tests. I vowed I’d never do one again. (LOL)

Which, for the record, is hard to do because it seems like everyone wants you to share your personality test results. The next company I joined used a different test, which we were asked to share with the ENTIRE ORGANIZATION, and just this week I was asked to retake the 16 Personalities test.

So I did.

And, guess what?

My results were different.

In the last couple of years, a lot has changed. I welcomed a new baby. Took a new job. Lost that job. Started my own business. I’ve grown, both personally and professionally. I knew I had.

As I submitted the last question of my 16 Personalities quiz, I wanted to see The Mediator pop up on the screen. Instead, The Protagonist (The Turbulent Protagonist, actually) popped up. ENFJ-T. Like my previous results, I fall under The Diplomat role and my strategy is Social Engagement. That tracks, right?

The Protagonist, by the way, is defined as a “born leader” who relies on passion and charisma to inspire others. “Few things bring Protagonists a deeper sense of joy and fulfilment than guiding and friends and loved ones to grow into their best selves.”

What I realized, almost instantly, is that these personality tests are only as accurate as the moment you take them is long. We’re always changing. Our perspectives and even our moods can impact the outcomes.

As an employee and member of a team, I did feel called to be the person who brought others together.

But, as an entrepreneur, I *have* to be the more outspoken and assertive version of myself.

Which means both sets of results were accurate and neither really sums me up.


Do I think there is value in these assessments? I actually do. Absolutely! They’re a lot of fun, a great way to understand how members of a team are engaging with one another and how best they should engage with one another. But they’re not the definitive measure of a person or their abilities.

So, the next time you do a personality test and it feels like the results weren’t quite right or you worry that the results might not be what the person on the other end of job posting or table is looking for, let that shit go.

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