Self-Assessment: How To Evaluate Your Performance

Learning about yourself can help you get ahead

A self assessment using a tablet.

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Are you trying to figure out what you’re good at? Perhaps you’re wondering what type of career you should be considering—or maybe you’re already in the field and want to know where you can improve. A self-assessment can help you identify your strengths, where they fit into your work, and any aptitudes you may have.

Let’s look at self-assessments, how to complete one, and the benefits they can provide for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Self-assessments can be great tools to learn more about yourself and can be administered to students or professionals in the workforce.
  • Use a self-assessment to direct your future, whether you’re declaring a major or when changing careers.
  • A wide variety of free self-assessments are available online.

How To Complete a Self-Assessment

Varying types of self-assessments provide different information. If you’re a student trying to decide what to study, a self-assessment can be an excellent way to give yourself some direction. A job candidate or employee may take a self-assessment to determine a good workplace fit.

Student Self-Assessments

For students, interest assessments include questions about what they like to do, such as writing, working with their hands, or advising people. Other assessments may identify your values, personality, needs, and wants, which will provide insights into your interests, which you can use to decide on a field of study.

Other self-assessment tools use research and knowledge to investigate your:

  • Business-relevant skills, motivators, and interests
  • Affinity for certain organizational cultures
  • Leadership style
  • Strengths and talents
  • Unique interests, and how they connect to the work world

Career Self-Assessments

Those who already have careers or jobs can also find value in a self-assessment. These assessments will vary slightly from those used by students, as people with work experience have a wider variety of skills. If you’re not satisfied with your current career, a self-assessment can help you identify any skills you have that could transfer to a new occupation and career that may be a better fit.

Companies may also use assessment tools in the initial hiring process or to hire or promote from within—many of which predict job performance. These include:

  • Cognitive abilities assessments: Math, verbal, reading comprehension, and other abilities
  • Job knowledge tests: What an employee already knows, needed to carry out a job
  • Biodata tests: Background, personal characteristics, or interests corresponding to job duties
  • Personality tests: Personal traits
  • Integrity tests: Specific traits, such as honesty, dependability, and trustworthiness

Tips for Self-Assessments

A self-assessment is about learning who you are as a person. To that end, here are some tips for ensuring your self-assessment delivers the best results.


Taking a self-assessment usually is a good idea, especially if you’re interested in learning more about yourself. However, there are times when it makes even more sense to complete one. Completing one (or several) different assessments before declaring a university major is a good idea, as is taking one to determine your transferable skills before quitting your career.

Research Your Options

Many career and aptitude tests are free online or through your college’s or university’s career center, although some institutions charge for in-depth testing. Other companies offer testing as part of the career process. For example, the Myers-Briggs Personality Test has been used by 88 of Fortune 100 companies.


Assessment tools to try out include the O*Net Interest Profiler based on The Holland Code and’s career quiz.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s site CareerOneStop features various free tests, including a skill-matcher test and an interest assessment. You can enter your current occupation and see related careers in the career-matching section. It also offers cross-referencing of your strongest skills against a list of matching occupations.


It may be tempting to put your best foot forward when taking a self-assessment exam. However, it’s essential to be as honest as possible. Answering all the questions as you “think” they should be answered, or in a way that doesn’t reflect how you feel, invalidates the test. Not being truthful with your answers will give you a test result that isn’t accurate to your situation.


Take time to reflect on the results of the self-assessment. Consider your initial reactions to the results. Were you surprised by anything? What did you learn about yourself? How can you apply this knowledge to your future? Then, think about how to apply the results, such as making changes or investigating or setting new goals. You may need to reframe your next steps or speak with people who can provide information on what skills or resources you need to move forward.

Benefits of a Self-Assessment

The biggest benefit of self-assessment is gaining a greater understanding of who you are. Although this may seem obvious, it can lead to positive development and changes in your life.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re in your sophomore year in college. You’re studying biology and planning to become a doctor. However, you’re struggling in the few classes related to your major (after wrapping up general ed). You don’t find the content interesting and have difficulty memorizing all the information. Rather than continue down a path that doesn’t suit you, consider taking a self-assessment to see where else your strengths and interests may lie.

The Bottom Line

Self-assessments can be a strong tool for personal growth. Learning about your aptitudes, strengths, areas of weakness, and skills can help direct you to a career (and lifestyle) that best suits your personality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I use self-assessments?

At a minimum, you’ll want to complete a self-assessment when significant changes occur in your life, such as at the start of the career development process. Starting a new degree, jumping to a new career, or receiving a promotion are good times to take a self-assessment and learn more about your aptitudes.

How many questions should I ask myself during a self-assessment?

The number of questions you’ll want to ask—or be asked—during a self-assessment depends on the test you’re taking. Are you simply investigating your personality type? Do you have transferable skills? These tests will be shorter than in-depth self-assessments intended to study multiple aspects of your personality, including an interest inventory.

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  1. SHRM. "Selection Assessment Methods."

  2. The Myers-Briggs Company. "MBTI Facts & Common Criticisms."

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