Practical Tips for Interviewing MBTI Personality Types at Work

As a hiring manager, you need to be able to work with and lead a diverse range of people complete with unique traits, strengths, weaknesses, and communication styles. Managing such diversity can be both challenging and rewarding at the same time. And while understanding and managing various personality types in your workplace can seem daunting, having a few key tips and strategies to lead them can help to create an environment where everyone thrives.

One personality type you may have heard about people using at work is Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Knowing a candidate’s MBTI type can help you to understand how they might interact with others on your team, how they might approach tasks, and how they might make decisions.

Developed in the 1940s by a mother-daughter team (neither of whom were psychologists at the time), MBTI was intended to help reveal how people react to their environment and behave within it. Using four different categories with two traits in each, the test was meant to reveal where people land on the spectrum between each trait, and then be sorted into 16 different types. That’s the ESFJ or INTP you may have heard about or seen on someone’s social media profile.

In fact, something like 2 million people take the MBTI test each year, making it one of the most popular personality tests there is.

But it comes with some caveats.

Problems with Using Myers-Briggs for Hiring Decisions

People rarely fit into neat and discreet boxes. Each of us is a unique individual made up of a variety of traits and attributes. The MBTI gives us the chance to gain insights into ourselves—or not. For some, it’s like a key unlocking the secret door to their personality. For others, it just doesn’t ring true.

So, the practical application of this kind of typing has led some mental health professionals to push back on using MBTI—or other personality testing—in workplace practice decisions.

“The MBTI can be helpful for self-reflection and evaluation, but, as is the case for any form of assessment, it is important to be wary when interpreting results,” Lucy Cronin-Golomb, a psychology PhD candidate at Emory University, says.

There are some holes, she says, in putting too much weight on a personality test like the MBTI when a manager makes their hiring decisions. These can include:

  • Around 30% of people score as a different type of personality the second time they take the test.
  • The self-report nature of the test means that employees might just be marking down what they think their employer wants to hear.
  • The MBTI assigns individuals to specific, hard-sided categories when in reality human cognition and personality is far more nuanced; humans are very rarely always one thing or the other.

Keep in mind also that most interview formats or styles are built for Extroverts, so making some minor modifications for Introverts could help you find a treasure among your candidate pool—one who might just not enjoy small talk.

What are the Different MBTI Personality Types?

Under the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator umbrella, there are 16 different personality types, each with its own unique elements. The personality test measures four different dimensions of personality: Extraversion (E/I), Sensing (S/N), Thinking (T/F), and Judging (J/P).

Each of these dimensions has two opposing preferences, and each person has a dominant preference for each dimension. For example, someone who is an Extravert (E) is often energized by being around people, while someone who is an Introvert (I) is often energized by spending time away from people.

Here’s a basic overview of interviewing different MBTI personality types for your work environment:

Extraverts (E): Extraverts are typically energized by being around other people, so they might do well in jobs that involve interacting with others, but don’t assume they cannot work on their own too. They might be good at public speaking and leading brainstorming sessions. When interviewing an Extravert, they may enjoy opportunities to talk and interact with you and other members of your team.

Introverts (I): Introverts are more often energized by spending time solo. They might do well in jobs that involve independent work, but don’t assume they cannot do well leading a team. They can also be good at deeper thinking and problem-solving. When interviewing an Introvert, they may enjoy the opportunity to think about your questions and to process their answers.

Sensing (S): Sensing types are more often detail-oriented and practical. They may do well in jobs that involve working with data and making decisions based on facts. When interviewing a Sensing type, ask them questions about their experience and how they would use their skills to solve problems.

Intuitive (N): Intuitive types maybe more big-picture thinkers. They may do well in jobs that involve creativity and problem-solving. When interviewing an Intuitive type, be sure to ask them questions about their ideas and how they would use their creativity to make a difference.

Thinking (T): Thinking types may be logical and objective. They tend to do well in jobs that involve making decisions based on logic and reason. When interviewing a Thinking type, ask them questions about their decision-making process and how they would handle difficult situations.

Feeling (F): Feeling types may be empathetic and compassionate. They may do well in jobs that involve working with people and helping others. When interviewing a Feeling type, you can ask them questions about their values and how they would use their empathy to make a difference.

Judging (J): Judging types are often organized and efficient. They may do well in jobs that involve planning and organizing. When interviewing a Judging type, ask them questions about their time management skills and how they handle a busy workload.

Perceiving (P): Perceiving types are flexible and spontaneous. They may do well in jobs that involve change and variety. When interviewing a Perceiving type, ask questions about how they would manage multiple projects and their ability to handle change.

MBTI at Work Comes With Balance

When interviewing people with different personality types, you can assess how a candidate might fit into your team—and if they might be a good fit for the job.

While you shouldn’t necessarily make a hiring decision based on MBTI result—as we mentioned, there are known challenges with it and other personality tests—awareness of the different types might help you to learn more about the candidate, how they work, and help build a team that’s made up of people with different strengths and perspectives.

As a hiring manager, you know that each member of your team brings unique strengths and perspectives. Distilling them down to a four-letter type might be an oversimplification of a complex reality or a window into who they are and how they’ll fit into your team.

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