Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kolbe Index A

As part of my ongoing job search, a prospective employer asked that I take an online test, at their expense. It's a test called the Kolbe Index A. Now, the prospective employer is looking at me for a Technical Writer position, so I had an interest in ensuring that the results of my test would show that I was perfect for that position.

So I researched online and here's what I found. It appears that the Kolbe Index A gauges what type of learner you are. Here’s what I discovered:

The Kolbe Index works on the assumption that people learn in four instinctual manners. These instinctual manners are termed Probing, Patterning, Demonstrating, and Innovating. Each of these instincts will cause behaviors in individuals known as action modes. These action modes are named Fact Finder, Follow Through, Implementer, & Quick Starter. These action modes correspond, respectfully, to each of the aforementioned manners.

A person’s Probing Instinct creates a need to investigate in depth. Its corresponding action mode is termed Fact Finder. A Fact Finder will most likely succeed at tasks which require an individual to: probe, research, formalize, allocate, deliberate, prioritize, define, prove, specify, calculate, inquire, and evaluate.

A person’s Patterning Instinct creates a need to seek a sense of order. The corresponding action mode here is called Follow Through. A Follow Through will most likely succeed at tasks which require an individual to: structure, consolidate, translate, prepare, discipline, coordinate, arrange, integrate, schedule, plan, budget, and chart.

A person’s Demonstrating Instinct creates a need to convert ideas into tangible form. The related action mode is Implementer. An Implementer will most likely succeed at tasks which require an individual to: form, mold, demonstrate, craft, shape, put together, build, render, construct, fix, repair, and practice.

A person’s Innovating Instinct is the force behind experimentation. A Quick Starter will most likely succeed at tasks which require an individual to: invent, brainstorm, originate, devise, challenge, contrive, risk, play hunches, reform, improvise, promote, and intuit.

As one takes a Kolbe Index evaluation, one will generate a score of eighteen to twenty-two. This score is then divided into the four action modes, resulting in points of one to ten in each mode.

Once the points in each action mode have been calculated, the score in that action mode is classified as to the type of behavior it represents. These classifications are referred to as operating zones.

The first operating zone consists of all scores from one to three and is referred to as Prevention. It is characterized by the instinct to resist a form of action mode. Fundamentally, a person who is in the prevention operating zone for an action mode will tend to avoid behaving in that mode and attempt to rein-in someone who is behaving in that mode. For example, if an individual is in the prevention zone for follow through, they will tend to prevent over-regulating or getting boxed in by someone who has a significant amount of follow through instinct.

The next operating zone covers all scores from four to six and is called Response. It is characterized by the ability to accommodate behavior in an action mode. While someone who is in the response zone may not initiate a type of behavior they can certainly work in this way for a limited amount of time; either a small to moderate portion of each day or all day for a short time. For example, a person who is a responder to follow through will be able to work within a structure or procedures created by others.

The last operating zone encompasses the scores of seven or greater and is known as Initiation. An initiator will often insist performing in the corresponding action mode given any choice. They will tend to initiate that type of behavior and are most comfortable working in that way. For example, a follow through initiator will create plans or procedures to follow and be happy defining a structure to act within.

Figure 1 gives a visual interpretation of an individual's Kolbe Index score. The individual shown would be an initiator in fact finder and follow through, an accommodator in implementer and a resistor in quick start behavior. Additionally, the individual shown would be known as a 7724.

Armed with this knowledge, I took the test, fully intending to score high in Fact Finding & Following Through, scoring moderately in Implementation, and scoring low in Quick Starting.

And mind you, it wasn’t that hard at all, as all of the questions were posed so simply, that only a half dead baboon would not be able to get the kind of score he wished. For each question, the responder must chose one answer that is Most Likely and one that is Least Likely. Example; “When I work, I like to… A.) with my hands. B.) ...experiment. C.) ...research. D.) ...make graphs and charts.” Pretty ridiculous, eh? So I decided that the questions themselves were irrelevant, the only thing I needed to figure out was which answers belonged to the action modes I wanted to score in.

So, without further ado, here are screen snaps of the questions, my answers, and my guess at which action mode my "Most Likely" answer fell into. I’ll have more to say after you look at all the snaps.

For the above five questions, I answered:
1.) Most - Experiment (Quick Start), Least - Skill.
2.) Most - Build (Implement), Least - Sell
3.) Most - Decide (Fact Find), Least - Skip
4.) Most - Consistent (Follow Through), Least - unique
5,) Most - Originality (QS), Least - Realistic

For the above six questions, I answered:
6.) Most - Challenge (QS), Least - Practice
7.) Most - Hands (Imp), Least - Bored
8.) Most - Clarity (FT), Least - Durability
9.) Most - Physical (Imp), Least - Goals
10.) Most - Title (FF), Least - Commission
11.) Most - Interrupt (FT), Least - Guess

For the above six questions, I answered:
12.) Most - Model (Imp), Least - Color
13.) Most - Precise (FF), Least - Ideas
14.) Most - Speaking (QS), Least - Diagrams
15.) Most - Specifications (FF), Least - Ideas
16.) Most - Research (FF), Least - Varied
17.) Most - Uniform (FT), Least - Flex

For the above six questions, I answered:
18.) Most - Structured (FT), Least - Argue
19.) Most - Innovate (QS), Least - Constructions
20.) Most - Detail (Imp), Least - Impression
21.) Most - Thorough (FT), Least - Spontaneous
22.) Most - Props (Imp), Least - Imagination
23.) Most - Clear (FT), Least - Physically

For the above six questions, I answered:
24.) Most - Atmosphere (QS), Least - Quality
25.) Most - Depend (Imp), Least - Speed
26.) Most - Flow (Imp), Least - Myself
27.) Most - Quality (Imp), Least - Challenges
28.) Most - Skillful (Imp), Least - Intuit
29.) Most - Organize (FF), Least - Deadline

For the above seven questions, I answered:
30.) Most - Method (FT), Least - Explain
31.) Most - Realistically (FF), Least - Rapidly
32.) Most - Orderly (FT), Least - Unique
33.) Most - Find Out (FF), Least - Work Around
34.) Most - Reading About (FF), Least - Take Chances
35.) Most - Coordinated (FT), Least - Spontaneous
36.) Most - New Products (FF), Least - Define

So, as far as I could tell, I answered "Most Likely" to 10 Fact Finder questions, 10 Follow Through questions, 10 Implementor questions, and 6 Quick Start questions. I didn't keep track of the number and category of my "Least Likely" responses, since I was going to answer all of them in (mostly) Quick Start and (somewhat) in Implementor. Additionally, I know some of the "Least Likely" answers I gave were in the action modes I wanted to score strong in, but I also felt that I needed to 'mix things up' a bit so no obvious patterns could be detected.

And my results - I scored a 6-8-2-5:

Now I don’t know how the final score is actually calculated, but as you can see, I got the results I wanted. And perhaps they are indeed not too far off of what they would have been, if I had taken the test in a na├»ve manner, given all the research I did and my natural tendencies as a chart and list maker and my fear of not making a move until I’m assured of success and my moderate abilities as a model maker, guitar player, and mechanic!


Amanda said...

That is really neat how you thought through the test and made sure you scored high on the areas most appropriate to the job. I'm impressed and now I want to take that test.

Hawksbill said...

You should put the same effort into taking the Scientology personality test. I hear if you get a perfect score they automatically promote you to OT III!

Barbnocity said...

Oh, man...this reminds me of the test I had to take when I was applying for a job at an insurance company. I really didn't want the job, so I purposely chose answers so that I wouldn't score as someone they would want to hire. The test was very similar to this one, but basically most of the questions were like the following:

When I am working I prefer the following schedule
a) a straight 40 hour work week
b) I am always willing to work on weekends
c) I work as many hours as my boss wants me to work

and questions like that --over and over again asking if I was willing to work weekends and overtime and if I was a go-getter or not, or if I was willing to annoy my friends and family so they would all switch their insurance to whatever unnamed insurance company this was....

Needless to say, they did not call me back after I took my test :) tee hee


Tristan said...

I attended a conference this weekend, and Scott Abel highly recommended the Kolbe test. I checked out their site and am now trying to determine if it's worth paying $50 for. It looks like good information, but perhaps stuff I already know about myself. Anyone know of any other good tests that suggest actual careers that would be good based on personality traits?

Skovash21 said...

I had a potential employer ask me to do this and said I would need to take care of it with my credit card and that when I came in for the interview he would give me a check to reimburse me. I'm sorry but that sounds extremely shady to me. Nonetheless, I won't be getting that job as I told him I would never pay money for any position. I said thank you but have a nice day. He seemed to be ready for that response. Any ideas if this was a scam or not?

David said...

I'm the CEO of the company that publishes the Kolbe A(tm) Index, and the son of the author. I found your post interesting, but wanted to correct a couple points. First, the Index doesn't try to measure how a person learns, but rather how we act based on the conative part of the mind. It's a subtle but important distinction. You can read more at if you're interested.

As to comment about a prospective employer requiring a candidate to pay for the index, we don't ask our candidate to pay for it themselves, and I don't know of anybody who is trying to make money by making people pay for the index and then stiffing them. Frankly, I'm not sure how they would make that worth their while. On the other hand, I don't think I'd want to trust that the company would get around to reimburseing me. If the company intends to pay for it themselves, there's a really easy system to let them do that and send you a credit number to use intstead of your own credit card.