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Using Myers-Briggs to Help with Hiring


Hiring employees is difficult. You have to make a quick decision that will have major implications on how your company runs. It also means a lot of money bet on this person. Hiring impacts your operations in a big way.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) classifies people into 16 personality types, so that when you use it, you feel somewhat sure that you are hiring the right employee for the right job. But don't use it casually. Indeed, some experts have said it's being misused.

For example, you might assume that introverts are poor candidates for stressful, high-visibility jobs. But here's something to consider: Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, exhibited "behavior indicating a preference for introversion." The introverted/extroverted scale is not about whether someone is shy or gregarious—it addresses whether people gain energy from being by themselves or being among others.

CPP, Inc., the exclusive publisher of the Myers-Briggs test, says: "The MBTI tool can't tell you whom to hire, but it can help you work with your team so that everyone gives his or her best performance." Understanding how people communicate, interact and collaborate should help you run your company in a more efficient way. The Myers-Briggs test can be a useful tool in achieving that goal.

So what's it all about?

To start with, taking the test should be voluntary, according to the Myers-Briggs folks, and the results belong to the test taker. If that person wants to share the results, great. But if you coerce a person to take it, that's not good.

Criticism from psychologists center on seeing that the same person taking the test twice shows different results, so don't expect this to be a magic solution to your hiring and assignment needs. (This isn't the "sorting hat" from the Harry Potter books.)

So what's it good for? CPP, Inc. doesn't say it should be used particularly for recruiting or hiring, noting that it's more generally "a battery of assessments or tests or tools . . . designed . . . strictly for onboarding, manager development, leadership development and team development."

Put another way, the MBTI doesn't evaluate candidates and doesn't predict performance or cultural fit. Rather, it was designed to help people in a nonjudgmental way identify what their blind spots are and what their strengths are, based on their innate personality characteristics, according to CPP, Inc. And that can be a very powerful tool.

For example, the MBTI can help identify employees' strengths and compensate for their blind spots by identifying some inborn characteristics. "It provides a unique opportunity, not to judge, but to acknowledge that we have personality diversity that gives us a common language to talk about our differences," says CPP, Inc.

Perhaps the best way to put it is this: The MBTI doesn't tell us what people can or can't do—it only tells us what people innately prefer to do.


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Stephen Holladay
Stephen Holladay
Tax Practice Leader | Partner
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