The Potential and Limitations of MBTI for Employee Selection and Management

myers briggs employee selection

What is the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator? (MBTI)

The history of MBTI

The MBTI model is based on the work of Carl Jung, who founded analytical psychology. Jung was the first to ascribe seemingly random behaviour to the way people “prefer to use their mental capacities.” He ascribed three fundamental psychological functions that people use to perceive and make judgements about the world around them.

Myers and Briggs expanded on Jung’s work to develop what has become one of the world’s most widely used non-clinical psychometric assessments.

How MBTI works

According to the theory laid out by Myers and Briggs, each personality comprises four distinct psychological functions with each person preferring to perform these functions in one of two ways:

Extraversion or Introversion – is the person more energised by their external world (extraversion) or their inner world (introversion)?

Sensing or Intuition – does the person prefer to take in information using their five senses (sensing) or by interpreting meaning (intuition)

Thinking or Feeling – does the person tend to make decisions using logic (thinking) or do they tend to make allowances for individual circumstances (feeling)?

Judgment or Perception – does the person make sense of the world by organizing it (judgement) or do they stay open to new information (perception)

Personalities are defined using the initials of the function preferences (ESTJ, INFP, ISFJ, etc.)

Myers Briggs for Employee Selection and Management

Myers Briggs has long been used by careers advisory services to help job searchers make decisions about which career options best match their personal strengths.

More recently, MBTI assessment is used by HR departments in the employee selection process and to aid with employee management by better understanding people’s motivation and processes.

Understanding personality types in an employment setting

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help HR teams understand what drives occupational behaviour, job satisfaction and employee turnover.

The two most influential MBTI functions for occupational behaviour are Sensing/Intuition and Thinking/Feeling as they are both highly related to preferences for information processing.

A person who is a Sensing (focus on facts rather than possibilities) and Thinking (use of objective analysis rather than personal analysis) type could use their full potential at jobs dealing with facts and practical analysis such as finance, accounting, applied sciences, and law.

Meanwhile, intuitive personality types are reflective and contemplative, tending to be drawn to careers or disciplines that work with ideas.

MBTI can also predict job satisfaction. For example, a Judgement type could enjoy the most working on individual projects due to their preference for orderly and organized work, whereas a Perception type would be more satisfied when they spontaneously work on multiple different projects.

It has been shown that Extraverts stay the longest in high-stimulating work environments, whereas Introverts prefer to work in calmer working environments where they can focus on their ideas and their inner world.

Understanding your employees’ drivers and motivations enables you to better manage them to keep them engaged and productive and to prevent employee turnover. It can also help with workplace communication and maintaining harmony in the workplace.

Limitations of MBTI assessment

While MBTI assessment is useful in the employee selection process and employee management, it was never intended to be an exclusive method for making hiring decisions. It’s important to recognise its limitations in order to use it effectively.

MBTI is not an assessment of ability, skill, or experience

Just because someone fits the personality profile for the role and your company, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the best candidate. It cannot predict or guarantee job performance.

It’s important to frame MTBI for what it is: a measurement of preference as opposed to a test of a person’s limitations.

To assess someone’s ability you could, for example, send them a test brief, or present them with a scenario in their job interview.

Job roles have multiple suitable personality profiles

There is no single ideal personality profile for each job role. Just because someone is introverted, it doesn’t mean that they’re not suited to working in teams or that they can’t be excellent company ambassadors and networkers.

In fact, introverts’ ability to attune to the emotions and feelings of others can make them excellent in, for example, customer-facing and team management roles.

That’s why any occupational personality assessment needs to be used within a wider context in the recruitment process.

Intrusive and inaccurate questionnaires

The main method of collecting data for MBTI assessment is the use of personality questionnaires. In a workplace environment, these questionnaires can feel very intrusive.

Understandably, candidates and employees feel uncomfortable when asked to what extent they agree with the statement: “I regularly cry at sad movies.”

What’s more, there’s no guarantee that they will answer honestly and accurately. This is particularly true for employee selection where candidates may give the answer they think is expected of them as opposed to giving the full truth.

A New and Better Way

Advancements in AI technology address the challenge of intrusive and inaccurate questionnaires for personality assessment by reading into someone’s personality based on organically produced text. Emails, Tweets, messages, reports, writing sample, any written communication serves as raw data for personality assessment without the need to ask intrusive questions.

Natural language processing (NLP) technology has come a long way in recent years and can now analyse and assess human language with astounding accuracy. Symanto’s Psychographics employs the MBTI model to give you key insights into the personality traits of the author of any written text.

Get Started with Symanto

Find out more about how your HR team can implement Symanto technology for better employee recruitment and management. Get in touch, or book your free demonstration of Symanto’s psychographic technology.