The Myers-Briggs Personality Test and Your Career
The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is a personality test that categorizes people into one of 16 different personality types. With a lengthy series of questions, the test determines whether you gravitate toward the four primary areas of Extroversion or Introversion, Sense or Intuition, Thinking or Feeling, and Judging or Perceiving.
Completing a Myers-Briggs Personality Test can be a useful tool in helping you to decide what sort of career field and / or work setting would be the best fit for you. You may also be asked by a potential employer to complete this or a similar personality test as part of the application process for a job.
Defining the Personality Types
Here's how to understand the four categories within the Myers-Briggs test:
- Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I): This is about how you get your energy — do you turn inward or outward for sources of energy? (See eight career tips for introverts.)
- Sense (S) or Intuition (N): Which one you gravitate toward reveals how you perceive and absorb information. People who get an “S” result are more likely to use past experience and common sense to evaluate situations, while the intuition-focused readily see the big picture and patterns.
- Thinking (T) or Feeling (F): With this personality trait, your decision-making style is revealed. Thinkers are guided by logic and common sense, where feelers may rely on values and, well, feelings. For feeling types, the decision-making process may be guided by how a decision would affect others.
- Judging (J) or Perceiving (P): This last letter of the personality type reveals lifestyle preference, or, how you like to live your life. Judging types are organized and comfortable working within rules and frameworks. You can count on someone of this type to have a five-year plan. Perceiving types are more likely to prefer a flexible environment and form and adapt plans as needed.
Test questions reveal whether you are an ISTP (that's Introversion, Sense, Thinking, Perceiving) an ENFJ (that's Extroversion, Intuition, Feeling, Judging), or one of the other options. There are 16 possible results.
What Can the Results Tell You About Your Career?
The Myers-Briggs test is often used in career counseling. Employers may also give the test to employees or job applicants to assess individuals’ specific strengths. But how does knowing if you are an ENTP or ISJF help you with your career?
Keep in mind that there is no correct or incorrect answer to the questions posed by the test.
Through a series of questions, Myers-Briggs attempts to place you into certain buckets: Are you an extrovert or an introvert? More likely to make evidence-based decisions, or go with your gut?
Having a sense of your traits can help you — and, potentially, the employers who administer the exam — to understand your strengths and weaknesses and to predict how you will perform in a work environment. You may find it helpful to think about your results in terms of the skills and personality traits required for set careers. For instance, if you are an ENFP (an extrovert who prefers spontaneity and flexibility to planning and organization), perhaps a career in accounting — where answers are very concrete, decisions are fact-based, and schedules are critical — is not the best fit.
At many companies, this test is also used to see how candidates would fit in with the company culture. For instance, real estate offices might prefer employees who are extroverted go-getters and company cheerleaders, while accounting firms require introverted staff who can remain focused and productive while working independently. Larger companies may seek a balance of different personalities for different departments, depending upon their workplace culture and production requirements.
As you review your results, keep in mind that this test is just one metric, and that most people do not neatly fit into binary categories. A person, for instance, may have a five-year plan for work, but fly by the seat of their pants in their personal life.
More on the Myers-Briggs Test
Want to know more? Here’s how the MBTI can be used for self-assessment, including information about the history of the personality test and the sixteen different types of personalities it categorizes.