Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses makes every difference during the job hunt and once you’ve accepted your role. No matter how long you’ve been working in your position, it’s always a good idea to take some to reevaluate your skills, priorities, behaviours and perspectives on the workplace. Once you have a good sense of who you are, you’ll be equipped with the self-knowledge to move forward.
In comes the Meyers-Briggs type indicator. The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a self-report questionnaire that seeks to highlight the differences in priorities and perception between individuals by categorising them into one of 16 different personality types.
The test works by asking you how strongly you agree and disagree with various statements. The statements can ask you about how you’d act in a situation, for example, “You act first before thinking.” Other statements might ask more about your interests, for example “I have a few close friends as opposed to a wide circle of acquaintances.” These questions aren’t supposed to be a judgement of your character but try and find out what kind of environments and interactions you feel the most comfortable with. Take the test and find out which personality archetype resembles yours the most.
Once you’ve taken the test, the result will reveal four letters with each letter corresponding a different category:
- Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I)
- Intuitive (N) or Sensing (S)
- Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
- Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
So, if you were to get the result ENFP, the test has measured one’s personality to be Extroverted Intuitive Feeling and Perceiving. Conversely, ISTJ corresponds to Introversion Sensing Thinking and Judging.
Looking for work
Each personality type has extensive descriptions written about them with many sections focusing on how the type interacts with different workplace situations and workplace relationships. For example, the ESFJ (nicknamed ‘The Provider’) is commonly described as being best suited towards organisational roles, enjoying structure and operating with a high degree of attention to detail. Due to their sociability and practical empathy, top fields for ESFJs include teaching, healthcare, counselling and managing.
Whilst any type of personality can excel in any field and are not limited to the ones suggested for them, the main main takeaway is understanding the commonalities between these jobs based on your strengths and weaknesses. Whilst counselling might not be for you, it speaks to your strengths in working with people and seeing objectively what aspects of their behaviour are holding them back. With this understanding in mind, it doesn’t matter what field you’re interested in, you can find the best role for you within any line of work. Study your personality type and get a better understanding of what you really look for in a job.
Applying for jobs
So now that you have a clearer understanding of the roles for you, let’s use your new understanding of your personality type to get you ahead of other candidates.
One useful result of having your personality traits described for you is being able to reflect on how these traits apply to you and being able to relay them when applying for a job. Everyone is different, so 16 types doesn’t come close to being able to describe you as a person, let alone a candidate. It’s an indication. So, now that you’ve been pointed in the right area, you can flesh out these list of desirable qualities with examples that can be used in a CV, LinkedIn Profile, cover letter or even an interview.
Let’s look at the the ESTP (Extroverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving, nicknamed ‘The Dynamo’). At work, ESTPs are described as being motivated by solving logical problems in the moment and hands-on. These are qualities that many recruiters would love to have on their team. Now that you have a way of describing what makes you the ideal candidate, all that’s left is to think of an example that proves that and use it in a cover letter or an interview.
A question you might get is “How do you deal with unexpected setbacks at work?”
We’ve already outlined how to give brilliant examples in our article ‘Answer Any Interview Question with C.A.R.L: Your Best Reference.’ Now we’re taking it a step further by using your personality type to have a better vocabulary for defining your more actionable traits.
An ESTP, who thrives un excitement and unpredictable work environments might say “As someone who maintains a constant awareness of a situation, I am always quick to identify a problem and will quickly identify a practical solution to fix it myself. For example…”
An ESFJ, on the other hand, prefers structure and might have a completely different yet equally valid response to this question: “I believe prevention is the cure and due, to my way of working, unexpected challenges rarely happen. When they do, I approach them with a conscious mindset and use the lessons learned to inform my approach in the future to establish a protocol that helps minimise this kind of setback from happening in the future. For example…”
With such clearly defined archetypes, it’s no surprise that many workplaces use the MBTI (or variations) in their recruitment process. This shouldn’t intimidate you. What’s important isn’t the type you are, but how you use your qualities independently and within a team. Having a deeper understanding allows you to navigate the workplace and recruitment process more mindfully and have greater control of the conversation when it comes to discussing your qualities.
Improving in the workplace
You have used your self-understanding to land yourself a role in a job you know is right for you. Where do you go from here? Let’s talk about improving your behaviours, relationships and outlooks in the workplace. Just like people, every workplace is different and it’s important to have a mindful grasp of the situation in order to know how to climb that ladder.
You should keep an eye out on the types of tasks and situations on where your stronger qualities are more applicable and lean into them. We all have talents that come a bit more naturally to us so there’s no harm in using your knowledge of your comfort zone to show off your best qualities. Whether interpersonally, practically or structurally, nurturing your strengths will allow you to be ready for new challenges and use your expertise to help less experienced colleagues: perfect for leadership!
In regards to your the qualities that don’t come as naturally to you, it’s important to work on those too. Regardless of how much your job allows you to avoid situations you might not be as comfortable with, you’ll always have to be in situations that are not ideal. Luckily, knowing your weaknesses allows you to face them on your own terms. When a situation arises that will allow you to improve on the aspects of your performance that you are not as comfortable with, you can evaluate how much you will learn from this experience and step in. Remember, it’s better to make the choice to step a little bit out of your comfort zone than it is to be thrown far outside of it.
Now You Know
So there we have our guide to using the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator to improve your self-knowledge and use it to make yourself a more desirable candidate and improve as an employee. Your personality type isn’t there to limit you but rather help you understand which qualities you can lean on and which ones need improving so you can reach your full potential. So find your personality type, evaluate how much the description applies to you, find examples to back up these desirable qualities to use in the application process and improve as an employee once you’ve landed your job. Happy hunting!