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Bypass AI standing between you and a job

A personality test almost got me disqualified from a job...

interviewing talent

So many people these days are worried about AI taking their jobs. But what about AI standing between you and your job? Not even allowing you a chance to speak to a real human to showcase your brilliance!

I once almost got disqualified from a job based on the results of a personality assessment I had to take. Here’s what happened:

After just one interview with an in-house recruiter, I was brought in as a temp to provide executive assistance to a CEO. The plan was to have me fill in while they continued interviewing other folks to fill this position full time.

Two weeks into the job, my boss asked to talk to me. As we were chatting, it hit me, “Wait a second… he’s interviewing me!” 

We had a great chat. A few more weeks later, the in-house recruiter who brought me in approached me saying that the boss was considering converting me to a full-time employee. He was impressed with how easily I “just started doing things” making his life more organized. Later I found out that they had had a hard time finding an assistant who’d last longer than a month. 

It feels ah-mazing when someone recognizes your abilities and wants to hire you, right? And of course I was excited. The only thing I needed to do to get an offer for full-time employment was… a personality test. 

And what a test it was! Whew!! I had to solve algebraic problems, perform statistical calculations, and tackle all sorts of challenges that, honestly, didn’t seem like anything I’d need to perform my duties as an executive assistant. 

Upon completion, I received a report with a few insights about my personality. It looked fine to me and I thought I did great. After all, they did eventually make me an offer. 

But that’s not the end of the story.

Many, many months later I learned that the employer received a different report after I had completed that personality assessment. The report made a recommendation to not hire me

The way some of these hiring assessments are designed is that a firm conducting the test creates a personality profile for the position based on the input from the hiring manager. Apparently, a personality profile that had been created for the EA position for this particular CEO was exactly the opposite of the personality profile that was generated when I completed the test. 

In other words, I, Katya Nicholas, was wrong for this job and for this CEO. 

Only he already got to know me; he got to admire my work ethic, the way my brain works, the way I do everything.

So he disregarded the assessment recommendations and hired me anyway (with a $15k salary bump, I might add.) 

But what if he didn’t have a chance to get to know me? What if I didn’t have an opportunity to showcase my unique way of thinking that allows me to do things the way I do them? 

Imagine, if they would have asked me to take that assessment before meeting me. The firm would have probably convinced the recruiter and the CEO this individual (Katya Nicholas) does not fit the profile that is suitable for you, Mr. CEO. 

So he wouldn’t have not only hired me, he probably wouldn’t even meet with me. I mean who wants to waste their time on candidates who won’t work out anyway? 

What’s truly comical about this is that this employer also had another EA take the assessment. This EA had been with the organization for about 3-4 years, so the EA and the CEO have known each other pretty well. And they also knew that they were like oil and water. They did not work well together. 

BUT HERE’S A PLOT TWIST: This EA’s assessment results came back reporting that this EA was a perfect personality fit for him. What?!

I don’t know if I should be laughing or crying telling you this story…

What I do know is that by the time I got into this situation, I had gotten acquainted with my unique talents very well, in great part thanks to the CliftonStrengths assessment. It took me a few years to make sense of all the information in the CliftonStrengths report when I first got it, but when everything finally started clicking, I learned how to present myself in the best light, how to hold myself in interviews, how to network, and so on and so forth. 

So when this executive decided – without notice – to interview me, I very quickly adjusted to the conversation and was able to speak about my brilliance and make him see it. 

The above story about me taking a personality assessment and almost missing an employment opportunity also makes it clear to me why some teams are reluctant to take any assessment when asked by their employer. I’ve seen it so many times when I’m invited to coach teams. 

No one wants to be put into a box. Absolutely no one. 

And, unfortunately, our shared experiences with assessments like MBTI, Enneagram, custom-designed ones that I’ve personally encountered, make us use caution when an employer asks us to do it. 

It pains me to think that, sadly, people use caution when it comes to CliftonStrengths as well, even though it’s rooted in positive, strengths-based psychology. 

Unlike MBTI, Enneagram, DiSC, etc. that can be easily linked to concepts from psychology before the branch of positive psychology had been developed. Concepts that were looking into everything that was wrong with people and had a tendency to attach negative labels to folks.

But remember what Don Clifton said? “What would happen if we studied what was right with people versus what is wrong with people?”

This is why I’ll always recommend CliftonStrengths assessment to anyone who wants to understand their natural talents, develop them into unique strengths, and capitalize on them. 

This is why I also remind folks: if you take the assessment, do it for yourself, not your employer. 

What I mean by that is don't try to answer questions in the assessment to fit a certain profile that you think an employer might prefer. Answer the questions in the assessment based on how you feel when you read those statements. Then you will get the most accurate report describing your unique combination of talents. 

If you decide to take the CliftonStrengths assessment and need help with understanding the report, you’re welcome to watch this complimentary short video, Decode Your CliftonStrengths Report, that I recorded for my clients to help them prepare for our coaching sessions. It will tell you how to get the most out of the report!

If you want to learn more how certain businesses apply generative AI to use certain elements of personality tests to disqualify candidates during a hiring process, watch this thought-provoking documentary, Persona: The Dark Truth Behind Personality Tests.

Embracing you with love and support,


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