Why the Myers-Briggs Test is Not Ideal to Use when Hiring Talents

by Angela Griffiths

You’ve probably heard of the MBTI or the Myers-Briggs Test Indicator. It has been one of the most popular tests taken for identifying personality types. From simple tests you can find online to the standardized version of this, people have been raving about how they resonate with their MBTIs, which are represented by just 4 letters.

It’s no surprise why we see this everywhere, including in the workplace. In fact, not only are companies using them to know the personality of individuals, but they’re also using this as a way to determine if they’d hire candidates or not.

Since then, it’s faced controversies, and companies are torn. Some use the MBTI while others don’t. So, what should companies do? Is it beneficial, and is it an ideal tool to use for hiring? Find out more below.

What’s the Myers-Briggs and What’s It For?

Developed by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers, this questionnaire is created to identify an individual’s strengths, preferences, and personality type. The design was based on Carl Jung’s theory on personality types and has been polished into several questions which are carefully handpicked.

The person’s result would depend on how it’s calculated and would fall on any of the 16 personalities showcased in the test. Whatever the person’s result is, all types have their pros and cons. It’s said that knowing this proves to be useful in real-world applications.

The Myers-Briggs is an excellent tool overall. It’s one of the most used personality tests when you want to learn more about yourself deeper. This makes it a great assessment tool in organizations, schools, and even in the workplace, with the latter as one of the frequent users of the MBTI. But, is it that effective? Sure, companies can make use of the MBTI for identifying personality traits. However, it’s not ideal to use this as a major influencer when it comes to hiring people. There’s more to a person than the four letters of his MBTI, so finding talents while using this mode alone is not as efficient as some may think it is.

Why Shouldn’t We Use Myers-Briggs When Hiring Talents?

During the 1960s, the Myers-Briggs Test Indicator was introduced across multiple offices in the United States. Since then, its popularity boomed, and now, almost all of us are familiar with it.

However, in the present media, it received some backlash, indicating that the results are majorly meaningless and are mostly hyped up by the press. In support, multiple psychologists and hiring specialists are in no way advertising this tool to use when looking for a candidate.

Fortunately, some companies are now changing their views and are much more open-minded to looking for new tools in hiring. Still, there’s a huge number of businesses that don’t do their research, and ought to know why the Myers-Briggs is not ideal to use hiring talents. Here are the reasons why:

  • It’s Outdated

The Myers-Briggs is an old tool. It was developed 70 years ago and was based on Carl Jung’s theory of personality. It’s not to say that this is irrelevant. It’s still has a huge role in psychology, but it’s not as heavily relied on now as before.

With the MBTI, a person’s personality is only divided into two binary categories. This sorts out the test-takers into two categories from across four traits. This used to be a prominent method of identifying personality. However, modern psychology disagrees. There are several research studies indicating that personality just can’t be neatly divided into these discrete types.

Most of the time, these kinds of tests need more validity. We’ve achieved great leaps in psychology, and these studies suggest that traits are much more reliable than type when it comes to personality.

With the MBTI, we are not seeing introversion and extroversion as continuums or dimensions but two absolutes. But, this shouldn’t be the case. One test that sees personality as continuums is the “Big Five” personality test, which is more valid to use in the job hiring process.

With the Big Five, we are looking at five dimensions that color a personality. This includes agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness, stability, and openness to experiences – all of which are consistently observed in empirical research.

With the Big Five, you are measuring traits on a continuum. This is widely accepted today and has been favored over Jung’s older version of personality types. Nevertheless, we pay homage to what Jung has offered to the table. But in today’s time, it’s better to find much more effective ways of hiring that are tested and accepted by experts.

  • It’s Not Reliable

As previously highlighted, the Myers-Briggs is a tool worth exploring. However, with matters concerning employment, it’s not as reliable as we think it is. It’s because we’re classifying people into types, just as how it’s mentioned above. Typing people this way is unreliable.

A study conducted has proven this with a sample population, indicating that MBTI is prone to changes. A group was asked to take the test; then, they were asked to come back after 5 weeks to take the test again. The results were not surprising, and they found out that around 50% of the participants had a change in their MBTI.

As the Myers-Briggs Test puts people into types, someone who has no strong preference or inclination to a type can easily change their views depending on what they prefer to answer that day. When retaking the test after a while, it’s not a wonder why some are just a few answers away from being labeled into a different MBTI.

Because of this, not all will have the same results when they take it after some time. In fact, within just a few days of taking the MBTI, big changes are observed in the personality type of others. It’s safe to say that Myers-Briggs has a lower test/retest validity as compared to other much more stable personality assessment tools.

  • It Doesn’t Predict Job Performance

This is considered to be one of the most important reasons why Myers-Briggs shouldn’t be solely used for hiring talents. This is, in no way, an indicator that one is talented or not. The same goes for skills as well.

In the workplace, our hiring decisions should primarily be influenced not only by the personality of our candidates but their skills and talents too. That’s why it’s not the most effective tool for predicting job performance.

In multiple studies, this has been consistently pointed out. They demonstrated that the MBTI tool fails to accurately determine a person’s performance in a meaningful way. If the purpose is to predict performance, then this is not the best tool to choose.

Sure, the MBTI has its charm and usage, but this is definitely not it. That’s why you’re encouraged to explore other employee selection tools for this. Lastly, it’s best if you pair pre-employment tests with actual workplace strategies and tools for assessment while your employees are working. It’s one of the only ways to observe actual performance data.

  • The Publishers Don’t Support Using this Tool for Hiring

The last major reason why we shouldn’t base our hiring requirements on certain personality types in the MBTI is that the publishers of this tool themselves don’t support this. It’s mentioned in the official Myers-Briggs website’s guidelines that it’s not ethical to use this as an instrument for assigning job tasks or for hiring candidates.

The reason for this is mentioned above – they are not predictive of a person’s job performance. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC dictates that all factors used for hiring should be job-related and are validated for the purposes and positions they’re used.

Because Myers-Briggs lack predictive reliability, the publishers urge us to use other tools that are much more current, relevant, and validated. Using these instead won’t be unethical, thus following EEOC guidelines.

This is not to say that personality tests shouldn’t play a role during the hiring process. This is just to show that Myers-Briggs is one of the many personality tests that don’t have predictive validity.

Other personality tools have been reviewed that assess not only the personality but also have the credibility to have predictive validity. All of these can be seen in tools that are backed by modern-day psychological studies, so look for this as a factor when choosing a personality tool for pre-employment processes.  

What to Consider When Using the Myers-Briggs Test


You now probably have your views on the MBTI test. There are pros and cons to it, and it’s not during the pre-employment stage. That said, if you have other plans for using the Myers-Briggs, take note of these:

1. Know the origin of the test.

There are a lot of sources that provide MBTI assessment, whether online or not. If you use one, know its origin and inquire what its validity and reliability studies are. There should be studies to give you data as proof that it can assess how the MBTI should measures personality.

2. Consider getting the MBTI Certification Program.

Regardless if you took the test alone or with a group, you should be eligible to buy and use the tool. Some may have this chance through their graduate program, but if not, the MBTI Certification Program offers a detailed explanation of the instrument.

3. Recognize its use to determine diversity.

The core of the Myers-Briggs Test is highlighting the concept of types. This tool is used to showcase diversity in a group endeavor. Consider this, and you’ll know when and how to use the MBTI to your advantage.  

4. Don’t use the test for hiring.

Again, the Myers-Briggs Test does not support its tool to be used for hiring and to determine an applicant’s skills and talents. However, it can show you different personality types that you may want to know so that you can use this information to your advantage in the workplace.

5. Know that this is voluntary and respondents can choose what type they best fit in regardless of their results.

This test should be taken voluntarily. In addition, whatever the results may be, it’s also up to the receivers if the MBTI result resonates with them. Don’t hesitate to encourage people to take the test as well. Once you give a brief explanation of the tool and what its reasons are, people are more likely to take it.

6. Give results to the test takers only as per the MBTI ethics.

It’s also part of the MBTI’s ethical rules to only give the results to the test takers. So, it’s up to them to share their information. However, some companies may not like not having the results because it’s useless when they can’t use the information. Most of the time, the consultant will just give some other form of the results while still keeping the confidentiality of the test takers.

7. Feedback should be a minimum of 4 hours ideally.

If one undergoes the test and looks forward to the explanation, this should be done in a detailed manner. Ideally, this can be achieved within a minimum of 4 hours to explain not only to discuss the concept of the test in-depth but also the results specifically. Still, it’s not mandatory, and some feedback is given in shorter hours and in a form of a summary instead.

The Myers-Briggs has been one of the personality tests that has played a huge role in developing other assessment tools. It has its time as a major test taken during the hiring process. But in today’s time, it’s been proven that it’s not as effective. Still, we can use the MBTI for other matters.

Today, it’s common to hear people compare their MBTIs. While it’s not so heavily relied on during pre-employment processes anymore, it’s still around but only prevalent as something that people can use to compare personalities with each other. It’s fun and a great way to socialize and identify diversity in groups. All in all, it’s how we use the Myers-Briggs Test to highlight its strengths, so do research first before investing in this to find potential talents for your company.

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