Many different factors affect where you apply for work, such as salary, job responsibilities, work-life balance or core values. Your personality type is another factor to consider, as it affects how you interact with others, process information and make decisions in the workplace. For this reason, some employers may refer to personality tests to get an idea of the character traits in potential new hires.
While there are many personality tests, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is among the most popular. In this guide, we give some background on the MBTI personality test along with a brief description of each of the 16 personality types it identifies.
Origins of MBTI and personality typing
The idea of personality assessment didn’t make headway until the early- to mid-20th century with the work of Carl Jung and other psychologists. Inspired by Jung’s “Psychological Types,” mother-daughter research team Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers developed a personality-inventory testing system meant to help people find career success.
The MBTI test was originally created to help the many women who were newly entering the workforce during World War II with little to no knowledge of the types of wartime jobs that would suit their personality. It was further developed in the high-production decades that followed when industries and potential job titles vastly expanded. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was officially published in 1962 and persists to this day as a tool not only for employers but for individuals in search of self-discovery.
How MBTI works
The MBTI questionnaire breaks out individuals into 16 personality types based upon how you classify within each of the following four determiners:
(I)ntroverted vs. (E)xtraverted
You are more “I” or “E” based on how you interact with others. Are you a “people person” or do you recharge through plenty of alone time?
(S)ensing vs. (I)ntuition
You are more “S” or “I” depending on how you gather and process information. Do you make cogent, methodically-driven decisions, or are you one to go by gut instinct?
(T)hinking vs. (F)eeling
You are more “T” or “F” depending on how you make decisions. You’re more “T” if you are driven by logic or “F” if emotions often guide you.
(J)udging vs. (P)erceiving
You are influenced by the world around you by either being more “J” and moving by carefully considered decisions, or more “P” by being more adaptable to circumstance or subject to whim.
The 16 MBTI personality types
Where you fall on the spectrum for each of the above will classify your personality. This can help you understand how you thrive in relationships and your personal life, but it can also inspire your career direction or help you understand how you work with others.
Practical and responsible, the ISTJ relies on logical decision-making, accomplishing tasks in an orderly and organized fashion. ISTJs typically enjoy a neat and arranged space. They value traditions, loyalty and order.
Career ideas for ISTJ personalities:
Read more: Best Careers for ISTJ Personalities
Conventional and grounded, ISFJs strive to uphold established structures and maintain orderly environments. They have a strong work ethic that includes serving others and are dedicated to their duties. ISFJs are conscientious and methodical workers who aren’t satisfied until the job is done.
Career ideas for ISFJ personalities:
Read more: Best Careers for ISFJ Personalities
The rarest of the 16 personalities, the INFJ is highly insightful about people’s needs, motivations and concerns. INFJs often find value in relationships with others. While often artistic, creative and complex, INFJs are also deeply caring and gentle. Also referred to as an advocate, INFJs often find meaning in work that directly helps others.
Career ideas for INFJ personalities:
Read more: Best Careers for INFJ Personalities
INTJ: The Architect
The INTJ type is guided by reason and logic. Driven by gaining and using knowledge, they are highly confident and want to improve the world around them. While self-confident, INTJs can be uncomfortable in large groups or among people they don’t know well. They prefer to discuss ideas and facts rather than engage in small talk.
Career ideas for INTJ personalities:
Read more: Best Careers for INTJ Personalities
The ISTP personality type is typically quiet and observant. When a problem arises, they are tolerant, flexible and quick to find a solution. Organized and practical, the ISTP values data, logic and fact. ISTPs often find meaningful work making and creating things, finding ways to make things work and learning along the way.
Career ideas for ISTP personalities:
Read more: Best Careers for ISTJ Personalities
The ISFP personality type is usually friendly and quiet, observing the environment around them. They typically prefer autonomy and working in their own space while on their own schedules. ISFPs value loyalty and commitment in their personal relationships. Harmony is also important to ISFPs, avoiding confrontation and keeping their opinions to themselves.
Career ideas for ISFP personalities:
Read more: Best Careers for ISFP Personalities
These highly curious, inquisitive and innovative individuals comprise just 2% of the population, though their world views can make them inspiring team members. INFPs are highly creative and enjoy abstract thinking.
Career ideas for INFP personalities:
Quiet and contained, the INTP enjoys abstract ideas and deep thought about theories over interaction with others. They desire logical answers to questions or problems that arise in their environment. Often skeptical and analytical, INTPs are great problem-solvers, helpful when certain business issues present themselves. They are often creative, intelligent and attentive.
Career ideas for INTP personalities:
The ESTP personality type is often referred to as entrepreneurial. They are energetic, pragmatic and flexible. Eagerly in search of fast results, they often take risks to come up with the best solutions. ESTPs enjoy a fast-paced lifestyle by living “in the moment” and spending time around groups of people.
Career ideas for ESTP personalities:
Read more: Best Careers for ESTP Personalities
Often seen as the entertainer, the ESFP personality type is outgoing, friendly and generous. They enjoy spending time around others, spreading excitement and joy both at home and at work. While practical and realistic in their work, they also value having fun achieving their goals. They are energetic and flexible, encouraging others along the way.
Career ideas for ESFP personalities:
Read more: Best Careers for ESFP Personalities
The ENFP type is generally innovative, inspiring and unafraid of taking risks. ENFPs make up approximately 8% of the general population and include more women than men. They are highly perceptive when understanding how individuals and groups function, making them natural leaders. ENFPs want excitement, enjoy abstract and experiential learning and look for maximum potential in their career experiences and in others.
Career ideas for ENFP personalities:
Prone to entrepreneurial thinking, ENTPs prefer to focus on the “big idea” and resist routine. Instead, they prefer highly conceptual work, problem-solving and leaving the details to others.
Career ideas for ENTP personalities:
ESTJs make great executives, valuing tradition and order. Strong character traits are important to ESTJs who respect honesty and dedication both in themselves and others. ESTJs are practical decision-makers, looking for ways to quickly and effectively see results. Organized and logical, ESTJs are good at both creating and implementing plans. They don’t shy away from difficult plans or decisions and work to bring others together toward a common purpose.
Career ideas for ESTJ personalities:
ESFJs are serious and practical, committed to their responsibilities and sensitive to the needs of others. They strive for harmony and are generous with their time, efforts, and emotions, and they are eager to please—both at work and at home. ESFJs value loyalty and tradition and hold to a strict moral code. They typically enjoy their routines and maintain a regular schedule that allows them to be productive.
Career ideas for ESFJ personalities:
ENFJ personality types are often charismatic, empathetic leaders. They are highly intuitive when it comes to others’ emotions, needs and motivations. ENFJs are often loyal and responsible, looking for ways to improve their team by leading with inspiration and responsiveness. ENFJs often look for opportunities where they can bring people together to make a difference.
Career ideas for ENFJ personalities:
Natural leaders, the ENTJ personality type is often honest and ready to make quick decisions. They are quick to spot inefficiencies and develop ways to solve problems. ENTJs value goal-setting, organization and planning. They are charismatic and confident, which helps them to rally a group behind a common goal.
Career ideas for ENTJ personalities: