What the Myers-Briggs Personality Test Can and Can’t Tell You

Alyssa Gregory

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an assessment that is believed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.  According to the Myers-Briggs test, there are 16 different types of personalities. The test consists of a series of questions, and your answers determine what type of personality you have and provides general assumptions about how your personality type is best suited for success in terms of careers, communication, etc.

The test is commonly used in many different business-oriented settings, including:

  • Leadership development
  • Team building
  • Screening and interviewing employees
  • Career selection
  • Personal development

Myers-Briggs has been used for decades, but it is commonly criticized as a “soft” tool that produces results that aren’t always relevant enough to be applied fully in business and career settings. But despite the criticism, the Myers-Briggs test offers a lot of value for small business owners and freelancers who want to learn more about themselves and identify potential opportunities for greater success, provided the results are taken with a grain of salt.

Here are some examples of what the Myers-Briggs personality test can and can’t tell you.

You May Discover…

Why You Behave in Certain Ways

Some personality types are better suited for some situations, and knowing where you fall on the scale can make it easier to understand where you’re most comfortable and why. If you’re an introverted-sensing personality type, for example, you may be more inclined to smaller, structured settings, while your extroverted-feeling colleagues may like big, loud gatherings. (Explore the 16 personality types for more on this.)

Renewed Confidence

Have you always felt as if you were a natural born leader, or that your free-thinking nature could be a tremendous asset in a team setting? Your personality type comes with many different observations and interpretations that can make you more confident in what you know are your strengths.

Areas Where You Can Improve

If the test shows that you tend to have a weakness in following structured directions, taking a leadership role or asking for help, you can gain an awareness of those elements and work to improve them over time.

It Won’t Tell You That…

You’re Passionate about Something

The test may tell you that you have a personality type that tends to be more scientific than creative, but perhaps you love a creative activity, such as painting. Your passion for something can change the interpretation of the results of your test.

Your Immediate Environment Plays an Unmeasured Role

If you take the test today and you’re under an unusual amount of stress, dealing with a negative situation and feeling a certain way, your results may be different from a day you take the test after you’ve gotten a great piece of news and are in an overall positive mood.

You Can Break the Rules

The Myers-Briggs test asks you to answer a list of questions in one of two ways, then interprets your results, but it’s interpretation, not science. If your stated personality type comes with recommendations that you choose not to adhere to or some you believe don’t apply to you, ignore them. You won’t necessarily be any more or less successful based on the data gathered from the test.

As long as you take the recommendations as only one part of the big picture, personality tests such as Myers-Briggs can give you a new insight that you can use to fine tune your business goals, activities and priorities. And they can teach you a lot about yourself.

How to Take the Test

There are a number of services that will allow you to take the Myers-Briggs test and then evaluate your answers for a fee, but you can also take a version of the test for free here: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes1.htm.

Have you taken a personality test? Do you think it helped you in your business or career?