• Edwin and George

The perils of personality tests. A short case study

The not-so-untrue memoirs of George (🤷‍♂️) a not-so-fictional character


👩 ‘George you look exhausted. Your eyes are all red,’ says Polly from HR. ‘Did you have a good weekend?’


🤷‍♂️ ‘What a weekend, Poll’ mutters George, arms stretched out on the table, head between his arms.

‘What. a . weekend.’


👩 ‘Why, what happened George?’ asks Polly.


🤷‍♂️ ‘Wow, what a weekend Poll,’ replies George.


👩 ‘Stop calling me Poll please, George, we don’t have much time so you’re going to have to sit up,’ continues Polly, sounding impatient.

‘I have to read you the results of the personality test you did last week. The company has invested a lot of money. The feedback will drive your personal development plan. Everyone in the company has had to take one and receive their feedback.’


🤷‍♂️ ‘Wow, what a weekend, Poll’ says George, slowly sitting back.


👩 ‘Come on then, George, tell me what happened’ says Polly.


🤷‍♂️ ‘Well, you know it was Lenny’s birthday,’ replies George. ‘Anyway, Lenny, Max and me met up in town on Saturday morning. We had a few beers - so we really weren’t in good shape for rugby.

What a disaster rugby was – chaos...’ continues George looking to the ceiling.

‘Their annoying winger questioned my English parentage - so I kicked him up the backside - hurt my dodgy knee in the process - if it wasn’t for that knee I’d could have been anything, Poll.

Chaos. Out of control – everyone pushing each other, the language was foul.

Ref didn’t have a clue – abandoned the match.

Chaos in the bar afterwards,’ continues George.

‘I told their skipper what he should do with his match report. I almost did it for him. Their annoying winger wasn’t happy at all when he realised I’d let the tyres down on his bike - he was even less happy when he found out where I’d hidden it.

I pushed their coach into the swimming pool – he needed to cool down. That caused even more chaos.

Anyway, Lenny, Max and me had a few beers and went off to that new bar in Leigh Street.

Wow, what a place, Poll. It was happy hour so we had a few beers. The music was fantastic.

For some reason the barman got upset with Lenny, Max and me. We were only dancing on the bar leading the singing.

It reminded me of that time I told you about in Ibiza – there were 150 in the club that night - when I stood on the bar and led them in a few recitals. It was like across between a scene from Coyote Ugly and a Take That concert.


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Anyway, the police turned up. OK, Lenny shouldn’t have done what he did – but believe it or not, they took him off to the station.

Max and me had a few more beers and thought through what to do.

So, we’re standing outside the police station, all peaceful - when we notice some roadworks. So, I found some spades and shovels in a tent. I mean….Lenny is our buddy – so we started to dig a tunnel to free him. We would have been in by Sunday.

Twenty minutes later the police let Lenny out as it was his birthday – they told Max and me to behave.

I don’t know what happened after that.

All I can remember is it was 4 in the morning and a policeman was putting me in a taxi to go home. Apparently, I’d been singing the Bee Gees greatest hits outside the Adelaide Hilton.

I have to go back to the police station today to prove my identity.’

👩 ‘Sounds serious, George,’ says Polly.
🤷‍♂️ ‘Tragedy,’ agrees George, with a smile.

‘Anyway, Sunday was a lot more lively.’

👩 ‘George, enough,’ says Polly. ‘We need to go through this feedback.’


🤷‍♂️ ‘OK, Poll, sorry,’ says George.


👩 ‘Now listen,’ says Polly.

‘These profiles are highly accurate.

They raise key points about your personality, how you work and need to be managed. They’ll help us identify your weaknesses and plan your development.

They’ve been designed by leading psychologists. They’re tried and tested on the public, business leaders and thousands of people at work.

Statistically they’re right 99.99% of the time.

They’ve been used on people with a high IQ and those with a low IQ.


🤷‍♂️ ‘That’ll be their annoying winger, then,’ says George with a grin.


👩 ‘Stop that George. This is important,’ replies Polly sternly, ‘the company has invested thousands of dollars in this innovative initiative.

Let’s see what your feedback says.’

Polly opens the word document on her laptop. There’s a pause – anticipation runs high.

‘Well, following the questionnaire you completed last week, George,’ continues Polly, ‘the feedback says:

  • George is clearly a strong introvert. He keeps out of the limelight and prefers low attention from others. He keeps himself to himself.

  • This mild mannered person enjoys the quiet life.

  • Being non aggressive and friendly, George likes to do business in an easy going way. He seeks harmony and agreement. He is straightforward to manage and makes few demands.

  • George’s preferred learning style is reflective – reading a book and mulling over the key points. He rarely acts in haste.

  • Quiet and unassuming, George is level headed and shows a great deal of common sense. He is more at home stetting low goals and achieving them than setting demanding goals to stretch himself.

  • Sometimes George will lack confidence, particularly in social situations when there are strangers present. In a group he will be viewed as dependable and a good follower. He is seen by team members as extremely composed when dealing with external pressure.

  • Key Learning Points: George needs to be more outgoing, particularly in social situations. By practicing this, his confidence will rise and his voice will be heard more.

  • In the first instance, however, he needs to be more ambitious and set himself harder and more difficult goals.

There’s silence - then George says enthusiastically:


🤷‍♂️ ‘Wow, Poll, that’s fantastic feedback – I’d really like my voice to be heard more.’


👩 ‘So what are your next actions George?’ asks Polly.


🤷‍♂️ ‘I’m going to try and be more confident in social situations - but first off set myself harder and more difficult goals.

Poll – I’II try it out next weekend,’ says George, ‘and thanks. That’s really valuable feedback. Wicked.’


👩 Thanks George,’ replies Polly, you’ve just provided an example of our new HR vision:

‘HR...always giving value.’

So, as all good employees should, George took the feedback from his personality test seriously.


Even though at times these things seem a bit far-fetched - a bit of a fad.

And sometimes, the feedback sounds as though it’s, well, not really us - despite assurances from our friends in HR.


We know there’s no point arguing – claiming it’s wrong.


George never faltered and concentrated carefully on his personal development plan.


He was determined to set himself harder and more difficult goals.


George was good to his word.


And next weekend, George, Lenny and Max could be seen tunnelling into a bank in Adelaide city centre.


They hope to be in the vault by Monday.


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