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How well do I know myself?

By Klemen Marinčič, mag.

Before you finally decide on a particular study or profession, you need to figure out what interests you, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. The easiest way to do this is to try to get to know yourself, your abilities and qualities, and the interests, values and motives that are important to you and that you are striving to realise in your everyday life and work. Values affect what motivates and fulfils you in your work.

Good self-assessment includes a review of your values, interests, personality traits, abilities, which you can achieve with various questionnaires, tools and approaches that can help you in making decisions and that are also available online. It is worth nothing that the results of online questionnaires should be taken only as a starting point for further reflection about your career, not as a strict definition of who you are (“compartmentalisation”), because a range of personality traits run through everyone and the only difference among us is that some traits are dominant and define us in some way.

Studenti_spoznaj se_kako dobro se poznam_slika

We like to believe that we know ourselves best. But is this true? Surely it has happened to you that a certain event and the way you reacted to it suprised you. Or you may have accidentally discovered an activity that inspired you and that you didn’t even know you were interested in. Maybe you are one of those people who really wanted a certain job or experience, and then found it but realised that it didn’t suit you.

No one can claim that this is impossible, even for those who know themselves well. On the contrary, self-assessment is a process through which we discover and reflect on different categories; our knowledge, interests, competences, work habits, personality traits, desires, values and similar. We could even say that knowing ourselves is a competitive advantage that will, in terms of our career path, help us find (the right) employment.

In everyday life we learn about ourselves in different ways, for example:

  • from people close to us
  • through self-observation
  • using questionnaires

People close to us are a good source of information; however, it is often not sufficiently objective. Self-observation is reliable but time-consuming, and it requires practical experience to facilitate a proper evaluation. On the other hand, questionnaires give us much faster insight , providing information that allows us to make decisions in a much more thoughtful way.

Throughout your career, you will encounter questions such as: what makes me happy, what are my potentials, how does my personality shape my relationships with others and my attitudes to work, my position, and my career in general, what are my key competences and which ones should I develop more, what are my desires and goals, and how my personality defines my relationship to myself, others, and my career? And furthermore, how can I present myself to a potential employer in an effective and adequate manner if I don’t know much about myself?

There are several free questionnaires available online to help you learn about ourselves, our personality traits, temperament, interests and so on. While questionnaires can be of help, you should be aware of their shortcomings. For instance, some questionnaires are culturally specific, some can only be interpreted by a qualified expert, the answers may not be truthful, and so forth.

Below are links to several such questionnaires.

  • 16 personalities: This questionnaire is based on the statistical procedure of factor analysis and classifies results into 16 personalities distinguished from one another by different traits.     


Source:, accessed November 2020