The Birkman method personality test is an empirically built personality type model. This model focuses particularly on career and work skills and preferences. It assesses an individual’s interests, needs and behaviors and provides a range of work-related outputs.

Summary by The World of Work Project


The Birkman Method Personality Test

The Birkman model is an empirically derived, trait based personality test. It assess an individual’s interest, needs or expectations and behaviors. It’s particularly targeted towards assessing individuals in the world of work.

Everyone is unique.

Like all models of this nature, it looks to group individuals into personality types which can be easily explained. It appears to be more detailed and provide more insight into individuals than many models as the areas it assesses are continuous in nature, not binary dichotomies as found in models derived from Jung.

The model also includes a detailed summary of job-families and job titles and looks to identify which roles individuals may be best suited to. The model is questionnaire driven and involves two streams of questions, one focused on assessing yourself, and one focused on how you perceive others.

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The Outputs

The Birkman model provides six different categories of output. The output for the first four categories takes the form of preferences between different, defined quadrants, and for the last two categories takes the form of percentage match bar charts. As with some other tests of this nature, the Birkman model uses colors to identify different personality types.

Diagram showing different needs groupings of The Birkman Method Personality Test

  1. Usual Style: How you typically relate to the world around you; the behavior people see when your needs are met and you are not under stress.
  2. Motivational Needs: The support you need from others and your environment to maintain your most effective and productive behavior.
  3. Stress Behaviors: The behaviors people see when your needs are not met and you are frustrated and under stress.
  4. Preferred Activities: Activities that align with your interests and passion.
  5. Ideal Work Environment: The work environment that offers the best fit for you
  6. Job Families: Your top and bottom job profile matches based on an extensive database of job profiles

Learning More

We’re very conscious that we are not experts in this area at all. We have, though, briefly covered a range of personalty tests in our website. These include Discovery Insights, Merrill-Reid, The Enneagram, MBTI and the Big Five, as well as some other things like Type A and Type B personalities. Please consider our posts on these topics just a starting point from which to further your reading and understanding. We know there are a wide range of opinions about these types of tests and their validity.

Personality tests can help people improve their self awareness. This is one of the reasons people do them. You can listen to our podcast on self-awareness via the player below, if you wish.

Personality tests also give people the sense that they are truly understood by others. Feeling understood is a powerful emotion that makes people feel validated and seen by the world. This is rewarding and people really value it. The tests can also be fun.

As a starting point to explore models like this, we recommend looking at The Open Source Psychometrics Project.

On a side note, you might enjoy reading about the dark triad of personality types as well.

The World of Work Project View

We have to caveat here to say we don’t actually know too much about this model, but from what we’ve read we think this model is really quite different to the majority of personality tests that we see and we quite like it.

We like the fact that it’s different to other approaches. We also like the fact that it’s evidence based (though we’ve not reviewed any of the evidence for it) and that it’s so clearly work focused as well.

Overall we’re quite drawn to this model. We would love to get feedback from people who have used it in earnest or who have studied it.

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This post is based on original work by Dr. Roger Birkman. To learn more, you can look at the Birkman website and it might be worth reading Sharon Birkman Fink and Stephanie Capparell’s book: “The Birkman Method: Your Personality at Work”.

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