I DID one of those psychometric personality profile tests the other day and it opened my eyes to the possibility I'm not the person I thought I was trying to sound like.
It was a shortish kind of quiz, as these things go - a gazillion pages - with about three or four questions per page designed to mentally deconstruct a person so that by the end of it, the real "you" can step forward, whether you like it or not.
I was advised at the start to be rested, stay calm, aim for sobriety and don't lie.
Big Brother would not be watching and the revolution would not be televised, but I was assured by someone who sounded a lot like Big Brother that every method of "out-thinking" the test had been anticipated, so no cheating - you conniving, self-delusional narcissist.
The reason they run these tests is they're filtering for "personality types". ISIS operatives, pathological two-faced back-stabbing management material, online dates. That sort of thing.
And although the fact I'm not running a Fortune 500 corporation (yet) might suggest I'm plug average, I figured, in for a penny, in for a pounding.
The trick seems at first to make it sound like you are what you think they might be looking for, whatever that is.
Go-getter, commander, pats kittens, executive Sagittarian.
Spontaneous, smart, flexible, borderline amoral, able to compartmentalise relationships and flush them down the toilet, pathological psychopath.
But there are so many questions revisiting so many variations on a theme.
After a while, unless you're a card-counting, number-crunching savant, you start to lose track of the lies. Just like in life.
In the end you suspect they're testing your inconsistencies. And fair enough, there was no shortage.
Part of that had to do with the "either/or" nature of the questions.
It was always, "If you were to read something, would you prefer a) an imaginative work of fiction or b) a sports report?"
Where was the "c) watch TV" option?
"At a party, would you rather talk to a) a poet, or b) an engineer?"
That might depend on how long the party had been going and who had the smokes.
Instinctively you don't want to betray the wrong trait, whatever that might be. But from experience, you know that if there is a wrong trait to betray, you're the man.
They assure you there is no right or wrong answer, there is just you. Which is the worry. But there's no going around this issue, you have to go through.
Before long you're in a maze of self-revelation, characterised by corridors of uncertainty and rooms full of mirrors.
And to be frank (not Simon, whoever he is), some of the answers didn't read well.
Which is why I went back at the end and started changing them.
But then I thought, no, if the bank made a mistake in the amount of interest it charged me, then b) I would not go out of my way to let the bank know. That was a) the bank's job to find out.
Lord knows in real life the bank has gone out of its way to let me know when it's undercharged me interest. So who's got integrity now, hey? Oh, I guess the bank has.
Yes the internal dialogues crank up.
I probably would stop in the street to watch a) a building being made, rather than b) an artist doing a sketch, although I wasn't sure what I'd do if the artist was sketching a building being made.
The truth is b) I don't always take advantage of people if I get a chance.
I take advantage of people a) hardly ever.
It would have been nice to have option c) "only if I don't like them".
I felt a tad compromised when the quiz ventured into whether I was a) a stickler for truth, or b) prepared to tell white lies if there was a good reason. That's because I picked b) twice, when the good reason was "to help someone else" in one question and "to help myself" in another.
When I informed a family member that I had undergone psychometric testing and been as candid as possible, said family member was shocked.
That's because she had intimate knowledge of my cracked moral compass.
The feeling was I should have shaped my answers to put myself in the best possible light, because when you die, they always urge you to move towards the light.
The thing was, by the time I'd finished the test I wasn't sure if the light I'd moved towards was a) bad, or b) just a little bit dim.
They want you to answer naturally, because when you're being natural and open you're at your most vulnerable.
This may sound a) defensive or b) paranoid, but having done a change-management course recently, I know that self-esteem issues feed off primary psychological drivers like sense of connectedness and control.
Which I was feeling neither of.
So using my selective attention I tried not to second guess my neural pathways and probably emerged with a personality profile somewhere between "insipid" and the Unabomber.
The ball's in Big Brother's court now, and as I walked away from my psychometric personality profile test I found myself thinking I was literally my worst enemy and only friend. And that's OK.