Professors get schooled on personality

Faculty and staff from the College and universities throughout the area learned to utilize personality tests in order to work better with their students in career counseling.

The personality tests attempt to estimate an individual’s personality through a series of general questions.

Career Services, whose mission is “assisting students in determining, preparing for and obtaining their career and educational goals,” uses personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory (commonly known as the Strong test) to help students discover potential career paths.

According to the more commonly used MBTI test, there are 16 personality types that correspond to a combination of eight personality traits. The personality types – which categorize people as extroverted, introverted, sensory, intuitive, thinking, feeling, judging and perceiving – give insight to a person’s general strengths and weaknesses. This helps Career Services in suggesting a fitting career for the student.

The use of these results is often debated. The use of the tests is far from an exact science. Many students are left confused when the test results point to careers that they are not interested in.

“What do you think when funeral director comes up as your job title?” Judith Grutter, program facilitator, said.

Those in attendance, including eight people from Career Services, participated in case studies with an emphasis on counseling students in a balanced manner instead of strictly relying on test results. These results often appear as a nonsensical statistical jumble with little meaning to students. “If you just look at assessments without true counseling, you’ll never help a client,” Grutter said.

Grutter, who has been in the career services field for 35 years, is one of the leading experts in her field and is affiliated with two major consulting companies. The College hired her through GS Consulting, a company that focuses on training career services workers, and she also works for Consulting Psychologists Press, which distributes the personality tests.

Grutter said that her training gives her the “meat” she needs to write useful books on personality tests and career management.

She decided to make the switch from career services counseling to training because she “hated what testing was doing to people” when used incorrectly. She runs programs like the one at the College to help career services workers help students as effectively as possible, using personality tests as a tool.

Grutter has published multiple books on interpreting the results of personality tests and is, according to Ceceilia O’Callaghan, director of Career Services, “truly one of the leaders in this field.”