If you’re not familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), it’s the personality test that results in a four-letter representation of your general character, e.g. ENTJ or ISFP.
Each of the four letters corresponds to an aspect of your personality, for example how introverted or extraverted you are. Together, they add up to an overall descriptor of your demeanour. With two options for each of the four characters, there are 16 Myers-Briggs personality types in all.
Employers sometimes ask candidates to sit a Myers-Briggs personality type test as part of the application process. Even if not, you might still find it useful and informative to take the test in your own time, so that you can use your personality type to guide your next job search.
Here we will run through the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types and list some of the careers that fit each type well. But first, let’s take a look at the four elements that go into each personality type.
The Four Parts of a Myers-Briggs Personality Test
A Myers-Briggs personality test has four parts, with two options for each:
- Introvert vs. Extravert (I vs. E)
- Sensing vs. Intuition (S vs. N)
- Thinking vs. Feeling (T vs. F)
- Judging vs. Perceiving (J vs. P)
You’ll notice that seven of the eight parameters abbreviate to their initial letter. The only exception is Intuition, which abbreviates as N to avoid repeating the I of Introvert.
Introvert or Extravert?
You’re probably already familiar with the concepts of introvert and extravert (sometimes spelled extrovert). People often refer to their personality type just using these two words, without including the other three traits of the Myers-Briggs test result.
Introverts get their energy from looking inwards. They usually prefer to work alone and may solve problems by thinking, rather than speaking out loud.
Extraverts gain energy from social situations. They tend to work well in a team and may solve problems by brainstorming or thinking aloud.
Sensing or Intuition?
At first glance, sensing and intuition might sound very similar, but they represent opposite poles of this particular personality trait.
Sensing relates directly to the senses. These people take in factual information by looking and listening, with attention to physical details.
Intuition is more abstract. These people can be more theoretical thinkers, looking for patterns in the bigger picture and thinking about the future instead of the physical present.
Thinking or Feeling?
This trait is similar to the one above. But instead of governing the way we take in information, it relates to the way we make decisions.
Thinkers make judgments based on logic and may be better suited to rational, objective and impersonal decisions – sometimes including the tough calls.
Feelers are more emotion-driven, with a focus on interpersonal relationships. That doesn’t mean they can’t make tough decisions, but they may find it easier to understand the impact on individuals.
Judging or Perceiving?
The final of the four Myers-Briggs personality traits describes the way you work. In general, judging looks much better on paper. However, perceiving has its advantages too, especially if you need to work on multiple projects at the same time.
Judgers tend to work linearly, completing one task before moving on to the next. This can look more orderly to observers and typically gets each project completed in the shortest time.
Perceivers take a more open-ended approach. They can work across a complicated set of tasks all at once, which may get everything done faster overall. However, perceivers are also sometimes prone to procrastination, which can cause delays.
How does a Myers-Briggs Test Work?
A Myers-Briggs test contains a long list of different scenarios or characteristics where you have to choose the answer that you think describes you best.
Some example questions might include:
- I work best with clear instructions OR I work best under my own initiative
- I try to avoid conflict OR I welcome opposing views
- I prefer to work alone OR I prefer to work as part of a team
- I tend to focus on the present OR I tend to think about the future
As you work down the list, your answers begin to build up an overview of your personality. It’s important to be honest about your answers – tell the truth, don’t say what you think is the ‘correct’ answer. Every Myers-Briggs personality type has its own merits, and every type also has some drawbacks.
Remember too that the test gives a binary result for each trait. That is to say, if your personality falls close to the middle of any one trait, the test will still give you a clear result one way or the other. Some online resources offer a percentage score for each trait, but in principle there is no such thing as a ‘strong’ or ‘moderate’ Myers-Briggs result.
Which is the Most Common Personality Type?
Some Myers-Briggs personality types are more common than others. ISFJ (Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) is the most common, while the rarest is INFJ (Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, Judging).
The typical percentage for each personality type in the population is:
- ISFJ (13.8%)
- ESFJ (12.3%)
- ISTJ (11.6%)
- ISFP (8.8%)
- ESTJ (8.7%)
- ESFP (8.5%)
- ENFP (8.1%)
- ISTP (5.4%)
- INFP (4.4%)
- ESTP (4.3%)
- INTP (3.3%)
- ENTP (3.2%)
- ENFJ (2.5%)
- INTJ (2.1%)
- ENTJ (1.8%)
- INFJ (1.5%)
Having a rare or common personality type is not necessarily a good or bad thing. However, it might help you to understand some things about the way you work, especially as part of a team. If your personality type is rare, you might often find it hard to relate to your co-workers, especially if their personality type is very different from yours.
Best Careers for Myers-Briggs Personality Types
Once you know your personality type, you can use it to help you decide which careers you are best suited to. It’s not an exact science – you might thrive in a job even if it is not the best match for your personality. But if you’re planning your next career move, the ideas below could offer a useful starting point.
Best Careers for ISFJ Personality Type
ISFJ is a well-grounded, ‘conventional’ personality type, and the most common across the population. You’re likely to work methodically and stay focused until a task is complete.
The best careers for ISFJ personality types include:
Best Careers for ESFJ Personality Type
ESFJ types are practical and committed, but also sensitive to the needs of the people around them. You may work hard to keep the peace, and you thrive on regularity and routine.
The best careers for ESFJ personality types include:
Best Careers for ISTJ Personality Type
ISTJs are logical thinkers who like to be organised. You probably value order and loyalty, but you might find it a little harder to be flexible if things change suddenly or unexpectedly.
The best careers for ISTJ personality types include:
Best Careers for ISFP Personality Type
ISFPs are friendly but like to work within their own space. You might be very quiet during a normal working day, preferring to keep your opinions to yourself while avoiding confrontation and conflict.
The best careers for ISFP personality types include:
Best Careers for ESTJ Personality Type
ESTJs make good leaders in executive roles. They can tackle difficult decisions and implement plans well. They are results-driven and can make fast progress in a variety of different situations.
The best careers for ESTJ personality types include:
Best Careers for ESFP Personality Type
The ESFP personality type accounts for about one in twelve people, but you’ll usually notice them in the workplace. They spread positivity and happiness, energy and excitement. ESFPs are a natural fit for some creative roles and jobs that involve interacting with others.
The best careers for ESFP personality types include:
Best Careers for ENFP Personality Type
ENFPs combine the traits of ESFPs with the attention to detail of the sensing trait. They can be highly innovative and inspiring, unleashing maximum potential in themselves and in the people around them.
The best careers for ENFP personality types include:
Best Careers for ISTP Personality Type
ISTP personality types are the silent, watchful individuals in the workplace. They might not normally speak up – but when they do, they often have valuable insight and can perceive the solution to problems that others might find insurmountable.
The best careers for ISTP personality types include:
Best Careers for INFP Personality Type
INFPs are capable of abstract thinking, which helps them to find patterns and connections that others do not spot. They tend to be curious and can ask important questions that help to make significant progress more quickly.
The best careers for INFP personality types include:
Best Careers for ESTP Personality Type
ESTPs have an entrepreneurial spirit and are typically willing to take risks in order to reap rewards. They thrive in a crowd and act quickly, often coming across as ‘doers’ rather than as ‘thinkers’.
The best careers for ESTP personality types include:
Best Careers for INTP Personality Type
The INTP personality type lends itself to abstract thinking, which can be good for problem-solving. These people like to dive deep into logic and theory, and can often come up with intelligent, creative solutions to business problems.
The best careers for INTP personality types include:
Best Careers for ENTP Personality Type
ENTPs, like ESTPs, are well suited to entrepreneurial roles. However, they are more driven by intuition than by physical data. This can lead them to focus more on big, broad goals and less on fine details, which they leave for others to address.
The best careers for ENTP personality types include:
Best Careers for ENFJ Personality Type
As we near the end of the list, the remaining four types are each found in less than one in 40 people on average. ENFJs account for 2.5% of the population and make charismatic leaders, with strong intuition for how the people around them are feeling.
The best careers for ENFJ personality types include:
Best Careers for INTJ Personality Type
INTJs are logical and make their decisions by processing knowledge. They are self-confident but as introverts, they may be happier in small groups or working alone, rather than in a crowd or working with strangers.
The best careers for INTJ personality types include:
Best Careers for ENTJ Personality Type
ENTJs can be known for their quick thinking and rapid problem-solving, as well as excellent leadership credentials. Their charisma can help to gain the support of their team, although they can also appear quite harsh and ruthless in pursuit of success.
The best careers for ENTJ personality types include:
Best Careers for INFJ Personality Type
INFJ is the rarest personality type, accounting for just three in every 200 people. Introvert INFJs may prefer one-on-one interactions and are typically kind and caring. They are also often complex and creative, making them a good match for artistic roles.
The best careers for INFJ personality types include:
How to Use Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type
Remember the I in MBTI stands for ‘indicator’. Your Myers-Briggs personality type does not define you, but it can give an indication of the types of roles you will find most rewarding, as well as those in which you might be more successful.
When applying for jobs, if you think your personality type matches the vacancy well, you could include it on your CV or mention it in your interview. Common personality traits can make you a good fit for a wide variety of roles, whereas rare traits might be more sought after by employers, especially if you are an INFJ or ENTJ.
A test like Myers-Briggs is a useful tool to gain deeper insight into what motivates you in real-world scenarios. It might not dictate your employment path entirely, but it can signpost you in the right direction when you are considering a career move in the immediate future.