By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University
I always thought of the Myers-Briggs personality test as a skills inventory to be used during career development. I believe it’s a useful tool to assist individuals in determining what they like to do, which careers they should pursue and their chances of success.
My Myers-Briggs profile is an ENFP. I fall into the Diplomat group and am considered a “campaigner.” Also, I am a free spirit who champions for the underdog, levels the playing field, sees the big picture and believes that there is a solution for every problem.
[Workplace situations can become difficult at times. What’s the best way to handle a difficult employee conversation?]
However, when my potential employer asked me to complete the Myers-Briggs test as part of a pre-employment process, I thought the request was odd. Normally, this test is administered after employment, as a part of the career development process.
Just before I left that job, the company psychologist shared why the test was administered to me before I was hired. The unit where I would be working had a high turnover rate and much of the feedback from exit interviews indicated a problem with the unit’s leader.
Although the unit leader had received coaching because she was considered an asset to the organization’s future plans, the company wanted to bring in new people who would “balance” the leader. The psychologist recommended me for the job, he said, because he believed I could bring a sense of “calmness” to the department. My interviews and my Myers-Briggs test suggested that I could level things in the unit.
My unit leader, however, was an ENTP. She was very personable and was good at labor relations and court preparation, especially in regard to writing documents. When our organization went through a merger, she served the senior executives very well.
However, my unit leader experienced problems with her leadership skills. She was out of touch with staff members, could not provide an actionable plan for unit initiatives and had difficulty coaching the VPs of our organization. She concentrated too heavily on debate and small details that were considered irrelevant by others.
[How should you stay connected to the people you lead? Learn to appreciate the people who follow your leadership.]
The psychologist’s analysis was correct. I was able to balance things in the unit, but at great personal pain. I wished I had been told the true purpose of undergoing the Myers-Briggs test during the pre-employment process, so I could have made an educated decision as to whether or not I wanted to accept the challenge.
Myers-Briggs Tests Can Be Used to Identify Workplaces that Won’t Suit You
Recently, a friend shared a July 2017 article from the New York website Observer, describing how the Myers-Briggs test can be used to identify the “worst possible workplaces” for each of the 16 personality types identified on the test. Three of us read our profiles and determined they were extremely accurate.
If you are in the process of looking for your next job, consider reading this Observer article. Most of us know whether we are qualified to do a specific job, but it would be helpful to know if we will like the work environment.
You cannot be happy performing a job if you are miserable at work. So use your Myers-Briggs profile to determine if you will be a good fit for the position and organization before they tell you!
About the Author
Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.
Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.