Confessions of a benefits manager: Candid completes a psychological test


I’m not sure what this says about me, but the last time I did a psychological test, I lied. They say the tests are impossible to fake, but really it is simple enough. Yes, the same question is asked multiple ways in an attempt to catch you out, but it is still easy enough to cheat. When I was last profiled, as part of the interview for a previous job, I had a pretty good idea what sort of person they were looking for and I just answered the questions as if I was that kind of person.

Now, the situation is different: I am established in this company, and so I don’t feel like my job is riding on the result. That said, I would put nothing past the Higher Beings, our executive management team; I can just imagine one of them using profiles to draw up the list for the next cull, saying they don’t want any nasty touch-feely types hanging around.

It would be nice to think that we are paying vast sums to consultants to get these profiles so we can all work together better, and that is what we’ve been told, but it is far more likely that one of the Higher Beings is mates with the CEO of the consulting firm. Time will tell.

An honest approach

Whatever the real objective, I’ve decided to complete the questionnaire honestly this time. Self-knowledge is power. When I cheated that last test, the results showed me as an extrovert because I was sure that is what organisations look for in managers. I’d be prepared to bet that the desk-banging Higher Beings on our board are all extroverts. However, perhaps now, in this digital age of the nerd, it is more acceptable to have a quieter personality. I guess I am going to find out.

Once I start the test, I am still tempted to cheat the test to look good; there must be something deeply deceptive about my psyche that I struggle to be honest when I want to be. What is it about psychological testing that makes us feel so vulnerable? Somehow, I get through the questionnaire feeling I’ve told it like it is.

 The results

We are sent individual emails communicating the results in quite a long report with five nice glossy charts. To my surprise, it says I am only just an introvert; the slider sitting quite close to the middle of the scale from shouty dominatrix to mousy librarian (those are not the real headings, but you get the gist).

The next chart is a bit more definite. I am someone who likes to look at the big picture rather than the details. Oh, so true. Perhaps I seem more introverted than I am because it is so boring talking about details. I just want to plug them into a quick spreadsheet so we can move on to something more interesting. Sadly, here I am stuck in a detail-orientated career, so let’s hope this result doesn’t count against me in the next redundancy programme.

The third chart represents how much we live by emotions rather than thoughts. It’s not difficult to guess the result, and indeed my score is rammed up against the top of the bar for thinking. I don’t see that as a bad thing, but I can see that it could be a bad fit in HR.

Finally, the report assesses something called judgement, and again my result is almost off the scale. Should I have pursued a career in law instead? I rather like the thought of wearing one of those platinum wigs and looking down on felons. However, the report says this part is more about punctuality. I feel conflicted by that (you see I do have some feelings), because while I can own up to judging, I don’t resonate with being overly punctual. For sure, I am not one of those chaotic people who turn up an hour late for everything leaving a trail of unfinished projects behind, but at the same time I don’t like to think of myself as a goody-two-shoes. Something more edgy would fit my self-image better.

Defining a type

Putting the four results together, the report has some final words on my type, which they dub ‘The Mastermind’. Apparently, it is quite an unusual type for a woman. That’s OK, I don’t draw attention to the fact I am a woman as being one is so frowned upon around here. The description is unnervingly familiar: my type is analytical and doesn’t like over-emotionalism. We don’t recognise authority, preferring to value intelligence and competence. I look over my shoulder lest Big Bad Boss should see me nodding enthusiastically at that. The suggested careers listed are a bit more confusing, lumping me in with scientists (fine), doctors (maybe), and programmers (this simply cannot be real). However, thinking about the competencies required in reward – to analyse complex data and remain objective despite the emotional hysteria that can surround pay and benefits, it would seem I am actually quite well suited to my job. Whether the rest of HR and the Higher Beings will think so too remains to be seen.

So far, they haven’t distributed any team results. It is a shame as it would be useful to how to work alongside people who think differently, particularly when it seems like most of them. Also, it would be good for my wellbeing to learn how I should cope with those who don’t bother to think at all, like my special colleague Lazy Susan. Once again, we seem to have spent money and time on a pointless exercise, but at least this time I’ve had some personal insight. I might start being honest more often.

Next time… Candid takes on a secondment.