“Tell me about yourself.”
It seems like a simple question, until you start thinking about all of the things that make you…you! An employer probably isn’t interested in your favorite color or best subject from high school, but anyone who’s been in a job interview knows that there’s more to a successful response than meets the eye. During times of change, professionals are challenged to commit to deep self reflection – to ask the difficult questions and come up with answers that will define the work they do for years to come.
“What are you naturally good at?”
“What are areas of improvement that you need to focus on?”
“What type of job would make you feel truly fulfilled?”
When it really comes down to it, how can anyone answer questions about themselves without having a clear understanding of their own goals, motivations and personality? Sure, you might know what you want from a job today, but where will your unique skills and traits take you in the future?
Wrong Place, Wrong Price
After all, there are reasons for both employers and employees to make sure people are being hired for the right jobs. A recent report from Talent Tech Labs (TTL) notes that, “Successfully placing people in the right job results in happier, more fulfilled employees, better organizations and increased economic profitability.” However, the same report indicates that as much as 70 percent of people are in the wrong jobs1.
Outside of lower employee satisfaction levels, these mismatches negatively affect companies’ bottom lines, too. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the cost of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of the employee’s first-year earnings and many other sources suggest the cost to be significantly higher.2
Famously, American psychologist Abraham Maslow identified the hierarchy of human needs3, a tiered system where fundamental needs, such as physiological requirements and safety, must be met before a person can reach a higher level of fulfillment – a state he referred to as, “self-actualization.” The idea is that once basic needs like water, shelter ans food are met, human beings can then move into identifying more abstract needs related to development and creativity. Reaching a level of self actualization has been found to be associated with, “Greater life satisfaction, curiosity, self-acceptance, positive relationships, environmental mastery, personal growth, autonomy, and purpose in life.”4
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. He must be true to his own nature. This need we may call self-actualization.”5
“Self-actualization is affiliated with feelings of self-satisfaction. Individuals with healthy self-actualization are pleased with their place on life’s highway with respect to their personal, occupational, and financial destinations.” 6
-Steven J. Stein
It stands to reason that a piece of the puzzle for reaching self actualization is feeling a sense of fulfillment at work. Yet, research from Pew indicates that 30 percent of American workers view their work as, “Just a job to get them by.”7 With such a transactional view of their careers, these workers would seem to have difficulty in connecting their roles to a higher sense of satisfaction.
With so much of our time being devoted to work, a higher sense of satisfaction through meaningful work becomes integral to keeping employees productive and positive.
In fact, there has been plenty of buzz in the business community around the idea of “meaningful work” and the way different generations define this concept. So much so that a variety of stereotypes have risen pegging certain generations as caring more about money and others caring more about this higher sense of purpose in the office. However, it appears that members of the generations currently active in the workplace – including Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials – can agree that they all value meaningful work, and even find common ground on a basic definition of meaningful work, one that includes intrinsic motivation at its core.8
Identifying what meaningful work means is one thing, getting there on a personal level is another. Without engaging in thoughtful reflection and taking tangible steps, workers may never truly be able to break past “work for work’s sake” in order to reach fulfillment. Donald E. Super described this process in five stages: growth, exploration, establishment, maintenance and disengagement or decline.9 In this case, the stages of exploration and establishment are key in connecting to meaningful work. Tasks that are integral to these stages include identifying communication style, preferred leadership style, learning preferences, productivity style and work-life harmony preferences.10
It is also during these stages that those in the workforce determine their self concept, or a person’s understanding of self based on a composite of beliefs about their own abilities, traits and values. “The degree of satisfaction people attain from the work role is, according to Super, proportional to the degree to which they have been successful in their endeavor to implement self-concepts.”10
In other words, if the feeling of fulfillment workers derive from their job is only as good as the self reflective work that went into finding the right fit, what tools can help those working through the exploration and establishment stages of their career discovery?
Connecting to Fulfillment – What is a Behavioral Assessment?
The Society for Human Resource Management defines behavioral assessments in the workplace, also known as personality assessments, as, “A systematic evaluation of candidate personality profiles used to gauge the viability of a candidate based on things like culture fit, work style and potential.”11 Think of them like quizzes, usually packed with multiple-choice questions, that are designed to get to know who you are as a person, in and out of work.
According to Sandra Jovanovic, Director of Customer Success at Talentoday, “These assessments are comprised of job-related questions based on required competencies to do a job. They typically screen for four to six key competencies. In order to gain a wider view on a candidate, behavior assessments dig into situational and past behaviors. This allows interviewers to understand a candidate beyond a wordsmithed resume and prepared performance in a standard interview.”12
Here is an example of some sample questions you might encounter during a behavioral assessment:
Like any employment tool, there are benefits and disadvantages to using behavioral assessments in the hiring process. While tests like these are cost effective, produce valid inferences for a number of organizational outcomes and are typically less likely to differ in results by gender and race than other types of tests, they can also may lead to individuals responding in a way to create a positive decision outcome rather than how they really are. 13
It’s important to note, then, that – as with most assessments – “Its accuracy comes entirely from how honest and self-reflective you were with your answers.”14
Know Yourself, Know Your Career Path
By using tools like behavioral or personality assessment to learn more about their own behaviors, motivators and competencies, professionals can better understand themselves. Beyond the basic needs that employees need to survive – like salary – knowing the right environment where one’s skills and passion can thrive has been shown to have a major effect on satisfaction rates for both employee and employer.
If you’re finding yourself facing big questions as you’re charting your career path, it might be time to consider some honest self reflection through taking a behavioral assessment! When the time comes, will you be ready to respond when someone across the table says, “Tell me about yourself?”
Discover your hidden personality traits and motivators with the MyPrintTM assessment built into Aha!, the digital platform from Medix. See your results in less than a half hour! Create your account or log in today at www.ahaopportunity.com to get started.
- Talent Tech Labs. (2018). Trends Report. Retrieved from https://talenttechlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/TTL-Trends-Report-vol-X-4.pdf
- Cardenas, R. (2014, April 2). What’s the real cost of a bad hire? [Web log post]. HR Exchange Network. Retrieved from https://www.hrexchangenetwork.com/hr-talent-aquisition/articles/what-s-the-real-cost-of-a-bad-hire
- Burton, N. (2002, May 23). Our hierarchy of needs. [Web log post]. Hide and Seek. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201205/our-hierarchy-needs
- Kaufman, B. (2018, November 7). What does it mean to be self-actualized in the 21st century? [Web log post]. Beautiful Minds. Retrieved from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/what-does-it-mean-to-be-self-actualized-in-the-21st-century/
- Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and Personality. New York, NY: Harper & Row Publishers.
- S, Stein. H. Book. (2013). The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Pew Research Center. (2018, November 6.) The State of American Jobs. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2016/10/06/the-state-of-american-jobs/
- Weeks, K.P. (2017, July 31). Every generation wants meaningful work — but thinks other age groups are in it for the money. [Web log post]. Generational Issues. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/07/every-generation-wants-meaningful-work-but-thinks-other-age-groups-are-in-it-for-the-money
- Overview of Career Development Theories. Pennsylvania Department of Education. Retrieved from https://www.education.pa.gov/Documents/K-12/Career%20and%20Technical%20Education/CEWStandards/Resources/Pedagogy/Overview%20of%20Holland%20Bandura%20and%20Super.pdf
- Montanez, R. (2018, October 17). How to find career clarity using three top career theories. [Web log post]. Careers. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelmontanez/2018/10/17/how-to-find-career-clarity-using-three-top-career-theories/#6b377948228f
- Roberts, B. (2014). Make Better Hires with Behavioral Assessments. HR Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/pages/0414-predictive-analytics-hiring.aspx
- Jovanovic, S. (2018). Da vinci’s code? Using behavioral assessments to enhance hiring. [Web log post]. Career Impact. Retrieved from http://www.medixteam.com/clients/behavioral-assessments-in-hiring/
- Types of Employment Tests. Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.siop.org/workplace/employment%20testing/testtypes.aspx
Chen, A. (2018, October 10). How accurate are personality tests? [Web log post]. Beautiful Minds. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-accurate-are-personality-tests/