Are Myers Briggs’ (MBTI) 16 Personality Types Meaningless?

Are Myers Briggs’ (MBTI) 16 personality types reliable? Can the MBTI help your company predict employee performance or is merely a theory?

Anyone in HR knows how difficult it can be to attract, find, and hire top talent. It involves working with little data and requires reaching a decision in a limited amount of time. Worst of all, wrong decisions can have many negative impacts on the company.

That’s why many employers have turned for personality tests for help. If this sounds familiar, then you probably heard about the Myers Briggs’ (MBTI) 16 personality types before.

Does it function properly? Does it help in choosing between top job candidates? Or is it a meaningless process with little upside? That’s what we’ll thoroughly discuss in this article.

What Is the Myers Briggs Test?

The Myers Briggs test is among the most used personality tests worldwide. It uses a series of self-assessment questions to sort people into 16 types.

A report done in 2012 revealed that around two million individuals take this test annually. Furthermore, it’s officially used in 10,000 companies, 2,500 universities, and 200 government agencies in the US alone.

How Did It Start?

Ninety years before it became a multimillion-dollar business, this test began as a small personality research project by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers.

They started intensifying their work by World War II. They were hoping that this test would help women to figure out where they’d fit in the industrial environment of that time.

The Shortcomings of the Myers Briggs’ Test (MBTI) & 16 Personality Types

Despite its widespread fame, the MBTI has been harshly criticized by many psychologists for a long time. What are their takes? Let’s see.

It’s Not Reliable Enough

team questioning the validity of the myers briggs 16 personality typesNo matter how advanced we get in human psychology, we can’t tell for sure how a human will perform in a specific task. It’s too variable for a set of questions to predict.

Even if we assume that it’s possible, we’ll face a bigger problem, the fact that this test depends on self-assessment.

It resembles an interview. You never know if the interviewees are self-aware enough to assess themselves accurately. Let alone that they could be intentionally lying just to land the job.

It Can’t Predict Performance

Job performance relies on a lot of different factors. We’re speaking about overall knowledge, skills, training, experience, work environment, personal characters, and life issues outside work.

The Myers Briggs test won’t be able to analyze anything but personal characteristics. And as we established in the previous point, it doesn’t even perform well on this matter.

Besides, people are capable of change. The test can deem a person as totally unsuitable for a job, and then he can turn out to be the best once exposed to the right motives and leadership.

It is Merely a Theory

The work of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung heavily influenced Katharine Briggs and Isabel Myers’s research. While his ideas paved the way for today’s analytical psychology, it’s crucial to know that he based them on personal experience rather than controlled experiments. 

Furthermore, Katherine Briggs didn’t have any formal education in psychology. She was home-schooled by her father before getting a degree in agriculture.

She became interested in pursuing Carl Jung’s work only after she’d noticed personality differences between her son-in-law and the rest of her family.

Likewise, Isabel Myers didn’t have a degree in psychology. She studied political science at Swarthmore College.

Don’t get us wrong, though; they modified the concept many times until it started to yield positive results. But knowing its history is crucial to understand that it won’t always be right.  Below is a great video that explores the shortcomings of the Myers Briggs (MBTI) further.

How Can the Myers Briggs Test Help Your Company?

As we said, many companies, universities, and governmental institutions apply MBTI. They can’t be all wrong, right? Let’s see how MBTI can make a difference in your hiring process.

It Can Provide a Roadmap

Maybe MBTI can’t tell you who to hire, but it can identify what every prospect needs to achieve his role once he’s employed.

For example, if you’re trying to hire new salespeople, MBTI could tell you which candidate would be motivated by incentives, who would react to appraisal, and who would be inspired by success stories.

This way, you can pick the candidates whom you can provide with the required resources.

It Can Be Used for Diversification

hiring managers using myers briggs to hire for a jobMBTI, along with other personality tests, is often viewed as a tool of discrimination. You hold up the test so you can benefit your company with the best workers and discard the weaker ones. But this shouldn’t be the case at all.

Instead, this test should be a tool to diversify. Whatever field your company works in, your customers will have a wide variety of personalities. It seems logical to match this variety with a similar one in your team.

Is It Legal to Use MBTI for Hiring?

It depends. The MBTI’s code of ethics states, “It’s unethical, and in many cases illegal, to require job applicants to take the Indicator if the results are used to screen out applicants.”

The legality of personality tests is questionable if they try to intrude in personal matters. Since the official MBTI is void of this, it should be fine.

However, you’re obligated to inform your prospects or employees about the purpose of taking the test and how results can affect their employment. Also, taking the test should be 100% voluntary to ensure validity.

After completion of the test, results should be handed directly to the examinee. MBTI prefers to do this in a personal fashion rather than emails or printed reports.

The 16 Personality Types: Where Does Everyone Fit?

Regardless of whether you’ll use it for hiring, the Myers Briggs’ (MBTI) 16 personality types can also be great for managing your current workers. It can tell you where everyone could thrive best, to help decrease your company’s turnover rate.

Below are the Myers Briggs’ (MBTI) 16 personality types and a briefing on each.

INTJ – The Masterminds

Equipped with an unmatched powerful intellect, these people can solve problems better and faster than others. They prefer working as “lone wolves” instead of working as part of a team.

Their mental power doesn’t necessarily manifest as wild ego. Therefore, the Masterminds have no problem in working under leadership as long as they’re understood and adequately challenged.

However, flood their schedule with time-consuming management techniques, and you’ll get them bored instantly! These include frequent progress meetings, trust-building gatherings, etc.

INTP – The Intuitive Thinkers

Just like the INTJs, these people are excellent in problem-solving and working alone.

“P,” the only different letter between the two groups, implies a more perceiving nature when it comes to planning. These people prefer to improvise more innovative solutions and explore new options as much as possible.

ENTJ – The Commanders

ENTJs are armed with incomparable charisma and confidence and are born to be leaders. They use their exceptional minds to solve big problems uniquely.

The best thing about them is their perseverance. The Commanders won’t stop until they meet their goals, whatever price they have to pay.

Therefore, if you think about using them as leaders, make sure you supervise closely enough. Otherwise, they might push their subordinates way beyond their limits.

ENTP – The Debaters

Simply put, nobody could perform in sales better than ENTPs. Their quick wits and vast knowledge bases help them in communicating their ideas clearly to convince almost anyone.

Sharing the letter “T” with the previous personalities means that they confront every problem with fresh minds and innovative solutions.

Their major flaw lies in how they like to question everything. The Debaters will continue doing what they believe in until they are convinced to stop.

INFJ – The Supporters

INFJs need to know that their efforts are making a difference to keep going. They like to help people inside and outside of their workplace. They also need challenges in which they can implement their creativity and strong intuition.

The supporters love working at a place that shares their values and beliefs. That’s why they usually like to run their own companies.

INFP – The Idealists

For INFPs, nothing is 100% bad. They see the best in everyone and everything around them. They often deter from reality and daydream about the future.

They usually prefer working in small moral-driven startups over huge corporate-themed workplaces. Moreover, they tend to hate managerial positions as they hate to tell people what to do.

ENFJ – The Team Players

The ENFJ personality type loves working in teams where they can help their colleagues. They like to keep everyone around them happy as much as possible. This trait makes them perfect project managers, especially if you have a diverse team with many conflicting ideas.

Between other personalities, they show incredible flexibility and versatility. It’s common to see them thriving in almost any role. Their likable character surely makes this a lot easier.

ENFP – The Adventurers

Those people like exciting adventures. ENFPs never go solo, though, they naturally love being around people who share the same ideas and motives.

They don’t care about hierarchy. As long as the company has new challenges daily, they’ll keep working with an exceptional passion.

As managers, they prefer forming real friendships rather than dealing with a boss/employee mentality.

ISTJ – The Inspectors

For ISTJs, facts are everything. They never suffice with a gut feeling. Instead, they build their decisions and opinion based on real-time data.

This trait makes them excellent as managers. They like to be responsible and don’t mind being held accountable for their mistakes.

As subordinates, they become the classic hard-working and devoted employees.

ESTJ – The Executives

Simply put, those people are the extroverted copy of the inspectors. They work tirelessly in pursuing their goals and bringing their team together.

They’re often perfectionists, ensuring that everything goes according to the plan to give the highest possible outcomes.

They can be loyal subordinates when they consider management to be worthy individuals who share similar traits.

ISFJ – The Caretakers

Those people are known for their exceptional dedication, just like The Inspectors and The Executives. However, they prefer to follow their hearts instead of facts when approaching daily problems.

They thrive well in positions where they can harness their abilities to help others, whether customers or colleagues.

The Caretakers don’t pursue management positions, but they often gain promotions after years of dedication and hard work.

ESFJ – The Diplomats

ESFJs hate situations of disagreement. They’re excellent at working to settle conflicts before they even start.

Their sensitive nature makes them much more understanding than The Executives. That’s why they tend to be more likable as managers.

Moreover, the Diplomats listen to their subordinates to know where and when to maximize every person inside the team.

ISTP – The Craftspeople

These people typically love to get their hands dirty in action. They find joy in learning new stuff, especially if it requires skillful hands and curious minds.

These traits translate to a need for excitement and unpredictability inside the workplace. They hate analytical jobs that depend too much on planning for the future.

They make easy-going subordinates, but occasionally require some freedom to keep them interested.

ISFP – The Creatives

Due to their artsy nature, the ISFPs like to live in the present and leave the future for tomorrow. Living in-the-now allows their mind to solve problems at hand better than anybody else creatively.

Their biggest weakness is their relative inability to work with a team. The Creatives do not like instruction from others, and they dislike being managers for the same reason.

That’s why The Creatives are more likely to thrive running a business.

ESTP – The Entrepreneurs

The best thing about those people is their high adaptability. They’re the most resourceful between other personalities, which allows them to adapt to new challenges quickly.

ESTPs bring fun wherever they go. They love being the center of attention, where they could talk and exchange ideas.

They don’t necessarily love rules, but they can follow them when they have to.

ESFP – The Entertainers

Equipped with wild spontaneity, ESFPs love taking risks and following whatever comes on their mind. They have no problem with giving endless energy to their work as long as they’re passionate about it.

Everyone loves them as managers, as they spread their positive energy all around the workplace.

Leverage Myers Brigg’s (MBTI) 16 Personality Types at Your Company

Are Myers Briggs’ (MBTI) 16 personality types meaningless? There’s no one simple answer. It’s quite a versatile test that yields positive outcomes if used the right way.

Using it to decide between prospects won’t always be accurate. Instead, use it to diversify the team so your company can overcome more challenges and achieve better efficiencies.

Maybe it isn’t built on a 100% scientific approach, but it can tell you how to motivate your workers based on their temperament.

Lastly, if you still couldn’t reach a decision, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to give it a chance!


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