Birkman Personality Tests
The Birkman Method Test is one of the most in-depth personality tests available, as it measures both how people behave and why they behave in those ways. It uses a system of assigning colours to personality types – so if you’ve ever heard people refer to themselves as ‘reds’ or ‘blues’, it derives from this test.
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Structure and format of the Birkman test
The Birkman Test is a very in-depth questionnaire, which is now mostly taken online. It consists of 298 questions: most are true-false, and around 50 are multiple choice.
While it is not usually timed, it takes around 30 minutes to complete the test and you should get your results immediately.
It is broken down into 11 scales per category - Interests, Needs, Usual Behaviours, and Stress Behaviours. Your scores are then translated into a four-quadrant report, which will give you your personality ‘type’, and then occupational profiling will sort over 200 jobs to find the best match for you.
How the results are scored
As mentioned, the Birkman test can provide up to forty different reports and most require a specialist to analyse and explain the results. However, there is a Birkman Basics Report, which can be read and understood by anyone, and reports only the core data.
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This is shown as the Birkman Map: The quadrants show if you’re more task- or people-oriented, and whether your communication style is direct or indirect.
It can also be broken down to show where your interests (star), needs (circle), usual behaviours (diamond), and stress behaviours (square) lie in the categorisation.
Red: The Do-er
Reds are action-focused people who enjoy a more hands-on approach to tasks.
Characteristics: decisive, good at managing crises, emphasis on speed, physical energy, prefers tangible tasks and results.
Stress behaviours: aggression, stubbornness, impatience.
Green: The Communicator
Greens are people-oriented and often enjoy roles in sales, teaching, and other professions that require a lot of social interaction.
Characteristics: communicative, flexible, focuses on others, friendly and approachable, enthusiastic about new things.
Stress behaviours: argumentative, unfocused, rebellious.
Yellow: The Analyser
Yellows tend to enjoy rules and processes, preferring jobs that require scheduling and handling details.
Characteristics: organised, loyal, consistent, maintain order and follow processes.
Stress Behaviours: rigidity, overly cautious, resistant to change if needs are not met.
Blue: The Thinker
Blues enjoy the more abstract and creative side of things, bringing innovation and intuition to their problem solving.
Characteristics: broad focus, creativity, sensitivity, planning, out-of-the-box thinking.
Stress Behaviours: indecision, procrastination, withdrawal when feeling discouraged.
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Birkman Personality Tests Tips
1Research the company and role
While there is no ‘right’ answer when it comes to personality tests, it is smart to understand the expectations of the job and the company culture. Depending on what kind of role you’re applying for, employers will be looking for certain traits and behaviours to be more dominant than others. So make sure you understand what is required of you and if it is the right role for you beforehand.
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to personality tests; lying about who you are will only lead to problems down the road. However, it’s also true that most people have a work persona, which is often different to how we are in our private lives, so remember to put your professional head on when taking this test. Remember to think about the questions in terms of the workplace, where you may have a different set of behaviours or motivations.
3Take your time
Personality tests aren’t usually timed, which means you have the luxury of taking your time. Some of the questions can be phrased in deliberately complicated ways or designed to catch you out if you aren’t giving natural answers. Make sure you read the questions carefully and review your answers at the end, since there’s no need to rush.
It might feel contradictory to answer a personality test both honestly and according to the job you’re applying for, but ultimately trust your instinct and don’t overthink the questions. It is very easy to spend a long time considering the ‘right’ answers – and while the Birkman test is not timed, you shouldn’t spend hours doing it. Trust the test to show your strengths and potential.
You’ll do much better on the day if you’re familiar with the types of questions that you’ll be faced with, so getting in as much practice as possible is the best way to prepare. Try out our free practice personality tests to understand how they’re structured and what it’s like to take one. It can also help to already have some idea of what kind of questions you get stuck on, and what results you get, so you can understand how to answer in relation to the role you’re applying for.
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