Top Personality Assessments in Business
Every entrepreneur has natural tendencies - are you more of an out-of-the-box visionary or detail-oriented planner? Personality tests can shed light on these leanings to help founders form well-rounded teams and reveal compatibility between co-founders. Keep reading to learn more about these valuable business tools.
1. Big 5 Personality Test
The Big 5 personality test has been around since the 1970s. It looks at five main personality traits that shape our working styles:
- Extraversion - How outgoing and social you are
- Agreeableness - How cooperative and compassionate you are toward others
- Openness - How creative and curious you are about new things
- Conscientiousness - How organized and detail-oriented you are
- Neuroticism - How prone you are to stress and negative emotions
Knowing where you fall on these spectrums can help you understand your natural strengths and weaknesses. For example, entrepreneurs who score high in openness often have an easier time thinking outside the box and spotting trends. Those who score higher in conscientiousness may excel at planning and following through on all the details needed to start a business.
There are free Big 5 tests online that only take about 15 minutes to complete. Understanding your results can reveal your ideal entrepreneurial roles.
2. DiSC Assessment
The DiSC assessment categorizes personalities into four types:
- Dominance – Direct, results-focused, and competitive
- Influence – Outgoing, enthusiastic, and lively
- Steadiness – Cooperative, patient, and consistent
- Conscientiousness – Private, analytical, and logical
For entrepreneurs, knowing your DiSC style can help you identify your ideal role. Dominant founders may naturally take the lead in setting strategy as CEOs. Influential founders may be best suited for networking, marketing, and raising funds. Steady personalities often thrive in managing operations. And conscientious founders tend to excel in analyzing data and managing finances.
There are many DiSC tests and training available both online and from coaches. Investing in a more thorough DiSC assessment can provide deeper insights for entrepreneurs.
3. Myers-Briggs (MBTI)
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most well-known personality frameworks. It assigns people one of 16 personality types based on these preferences:
- Extraversion vs. Introversion
- Sensing vs. Intuition
- Thinking vs. Feeling
- Judging vs. Perceiving
Knowing your MBTI type can reveal a lot about how you process information, interact with others, and approach work. For example, ENTJs thrive as natural business leaders, while INFPs do best in creative roles.
Taking the official MBTI assessment requires going through a certified administrator, but there are free unofficial tests online to estimate your type.
4. Enneagram Test
Less well-known than MBTI, the Enneagram categorizes people into nine personality types based on their core motivations and fears. The nine types are:
Beyond basic tendencies, Enneagram shows us the deeper drivers behind each personality type. Entrepreneurs can gain useful insights from learning their Enneagram type. For example, Achievers are motivated by success and avoid failure. Helpers are motivated by being needed and fear of being useless. This self-awareness can help founders play to their strengths and manage their blind spots.
Free Enneagram tests are available online, though it's ideal to take an official paid assessment for optimal accuracy.
5. CliftonStrengths Assessment
The CliftonStrengths assessment is based on positive psychology research by Gallup. It identifies your top five talent themes out of 34 total options. These themes represent your innate talents and strengths.
The 34 themes fall into four domains:
- Executing – Getting things done
- Influencing – Taking charge and inspiring others
- Relationship Building – Developing strong connections
- Strategic Thinking – Analyzing insights and ideas
By revealing your top five themes, the assessment highlights your natural strengths as an entrepreneur. For example, if your themes are Activator, Command, Competition, Self-Assurance, and Strategic, you likely thrive as a visionary leader. If your top themes are Harmony, Developer, Positivity, Adaptability, and Connectedness, you probably excel in building relationships and company culture.
Understanding your innate talents allows you to identify startup roles and responsibilities that align with your strengths. It also provides insights into building a balanced team with co-founders who have complementary strengths.
6. Kolbe A Index Assessment
The Kolbe A Index measures entrepreneurial instincts and problem-solving abilities. Rather than personality traits, it evaluates how you naturally take action based on four modes:
- Fact Finder – How you gather and analyze information
- Follow Thru – How you organize ideas and physical space
- Quick Start – How you deal with uncertainty and change
- Implementor – How you handle tasks and follow procedures
The assessment ranks your level of initiative on a scale of 1 to 10 for each mode. This reveals your unique way of working and decision-making style as an entrepreneur.
For example, an entrepreneur with high Fact Finder and Quick Start scores thrives when identifying patterns and brainstorming new ideas. Someone with high Follow Thru and Implementor scores excels at turning those ideas into organized, methodical plans. The Kolbe A can therefore help entrepreneurs identify roles that align with their natural instincts.
There is a cost for the official Kolbe assessment, but it delivers targeted insights into how entrepreneurs process information and take action. This understanding leads to improved startup performance.
7. The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI)
The Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) evaluates entrepreneurial personality across seven traits:
- Adjustment – Ability to handle stress
- Ambition – Leadership and competitiveness
- Sociability – Level of extraversion
- Interpersonal Sensitivity – Social awareness and tact
- Prudence – Self-discipline and responsibility
- Inquisitive – Curiosity and imagination
- Learning Approach – Enjoyment of academic activities
This framework provides a comprehensive overview of an entrepreneur's tendencies. For example, founders who score high in ambition and inquisitiveness may naturally take on visionary roles. Those with more prudence may prefer detailed planning positions.
The HPI also assesses if certain traits are underused or overused by each entrepreneur. This allows founders to identify potential blindspots to be aware of.
While the official HPI assessment requires a fee, the insights can be invaluable for startups. Entrepreneurs who understand their personality traits can better recognize their ideal contributions. And co-founders can spot areas of alignment versus potential friction within their team.
8. Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ)
The EPQ focuses on three dimensions of personality:
- Extraversion vs. Introversion – Your comfort level in social situations
- Neuroticism vs. Emotional Stability – Your tendency to experience negative emotions
- Psychoticism vs. Social Conformity – Your level of impulsiveness vs. self-control
Understanding where you fall on these spectrums provides useful self-awareness for entrepreneurs. Those scoring high in extraversion likely thrive in networking and promoting their startup. Founders high in emotional stability can better handle the stresses and risks of entrepreneurship. And those with social conformity may be well-suited to detailed planning roles.
The EPQ only takes about 15 minutes to complete. It delivers a quick assessment of core personality traits relevant to entrepreneurs. Comparing scores with co-founders also gives insights into similarities and differences between working styles.
While not as in-depth as some other tests, the EPQ offers a free, accessible way for entrepreneurs to evaluate their innate tendencies. The insights allow founders to play to their natural strengths when launching and growing a new business.
Pros and Cons of Personality Tests for Founders
- Increase self-awareness of natural strengths and weaknesses
- Provide objective insights into cofounder compatibility
- Help assign startup roles that fit specific personality types
- Reveal potential blindspots and friction points within a founding team
- Cannot fully capture the complexity of any individual
- May encourage stereotyping or putting people in boxes
- Results could be used improperly for hiring decisions
- Some founders may take results too prescriptively
The main takeaway is that personality tests are most useful for starting conversations and sparking self-reflection among founders. The assessments provide data points - not definitions - about an entrepreneur's tendencies.
Founders should view personality tests as helpful inputs to the process of building strong startup teams. But the results should open up discussions, not restrict founders' thinking. Used properly, these tools can aid alignment while avoiding limiting labels.
Types of Personality Tests
There are a few main types of personality tests entrepreneurs may encounter:
- Trait-based tests - Assess specific personality traits like the Big 5 and EPQ. These highlight strengths and weaknesses in certain areas like extroversion or organization.
- Type indicator tests - Categorize people into types like MBTI and Enneagram. These can reveal compatibilities and conflicts between types.
- Motivations and values tests - Uncover deeper drivers behind your personality, like the Enneagram, and help explain why you act certain ways.
- Skills and behaviors tests - Measure your aptitudes and work preferences like Kolbe and CliftonStrengths. Illuminate your ideal professional roles.
- Comprehensive tests - Combine different elements like HPI. Try to provide a 360-degree view of your personality.
There are pros and cons to each approach. Entrepreneurs may benefit from taking a blend of different personality assessments to gain well-rounded insights into their leadership style and compatibility with co-founders.
Launching a startup is an exciting but challenging journey. Having self-awareness as an entrepreneur is invaluable — but gaining objective insights into your natural strengths, motivations, and tendencies can be difficult.
Personality assessments distill these useful insights into data points and measurable results. Tests like Big 5, DISC, MBTI, Enneagram, and more can shine a light on how entrepreneurs think and work best. They also reveal areas of alignment or friction when choosing co-founders.
Before embarking on your startup journey, especially with partners, consider investing in one or more of these personality tests. The insights may help set your new venture up for optimal success.