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The Myers-Briggs Test: Entertainment, Not Hiring Screening

Guy Thornton
Guy Thornton April 01, 2019
The Myers-Briggs Test: Entertainment, Not Hiring Screening
You have all taken the Myers-Briggs test. You had fun comparing your results with friends. And, laughing about how inaccurate the results were. Or how your friends swore they were, despite your protests.

Many companies used the Myers-Briggs test to screen applicants. In fact, some still do. You know who you are. And you shouldn’t. Not a couple of decades ago, and certainly not now. Not to point the shame finger, but you should not be using it for anything more than entertainment, certainly not as part of your hiring process. Still not convinced? Here are four important reasons you should not be using Myers-Briggs test during your pre-hiring.

1. Based on Outdated Information

First and foremost, the science behind this test is old: seven decades old. It is based on Carl Jung’s theory of personality. Called the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), he divided personalities into a couple of categories based on four different traits. If you don’t see what is wrong with that theory, let us tell you: humans can’t be categorized as succinctly as Jung liked to believe. In fact, modern psychology adheres to many-faceted traits to make up a whole. This is opposed to the previous belief that you can be pegged into an absolute category. To add insult to injury, these gross generalizations about your type were often wrong. Or, if you remember from your own test, they only represented a single aspect of you.

2. It Doesn’t Actually Predict Job Performance

As inaccurate as this tests’ results can be, it shouldn’t surprise you that it can’t predict potential job performance. It probably does surprise you, though. Keep in mind that these tests are unreliable. Now add in the fact that studies have proven that this test doesn’t predict how well anyone would do on the job. If you were one of the holdouts still using this test: stop. Research has proven it doesn’t do what you use it for.

3. Unreliable Test Leads to Unreliable Results

If you did not catch it the first time: Myers-Briggs tests are unreliable. How unreliable? Let us count the ways. Remember the types that the test is based on? Well, since people rarely strongly identify with one type or another the results of the test can’t be duplicated time after time. Why? It’s because people are changeable.

4. Read the Fine Print: Do NOT Use for Pre-Hiring Purposes

And, last but definitely the best reason to stop using this test: The Myers-Briggs Foundation explicitly tells you not to use it. If nothing else convinces you to stop, this simple fact should. The people at Myers-Briggs admit that the test is unreliable for job hiring purposes. It is in their guidelines. However, the exact phrasing was “it is not ethical to use the MBTI…” In short: The test is inaccurate and invalid. And using it could land you in a heap of trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you like giving tests to your applicants, there are other validated ones out there.

Guy Thornton
Guy Thornton April 01, 2019

Topics:

  • Assessments
  • Behaviour

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