Using Your MBTI Preferences to Find Your Career Fit
In my previous post, we talked about how to write your career mission statement to help guide you as you explore potential career options or think about switching careers. MBTI personality type can’t explain everything about you, and it can’t tell you what your interests are or what you’re skilled at (there are other assessments out there that can help you discover those things). But MBTI type is a tool to help you see how the parts of your personality you’re born with are similar to or different from those of the people around you so you can use that knowledge to your advantage when searching for jobs you’ll enjoy.
In addition, career choices don’t become easier throughout your life; they become more challenging—sometimes requiring you to leave your comfort zone and accept substantial change. Knowing your MBTI personality type can put career decisions into perspective by helping you understand your basic behavior, your interactions with others, and the work environments, roles, and tasks that best fit your preferences.
As you read through each of the preference descriptions and questions below, write down the answers for each of your specific preferences (ideally underneath or on the same page as your completed career mission statement). This is a great exercise for evaluating whether a new position, company, or environment will be a good fit for you, but also useful for thinking about what your ideal situation or work environment would be for each question. For example, how much autonomy do you prefer to have when working as part of a team? Would you rather be on a team that brainstorms actively during the department meeting, or on one where the team is asked to think about a question ahead of time and then bring their best answers to the discussion?
Career Fit and the Preference for Extraversion
Extraverts typically enjoy interaction with people, moving forward with actions quickly, and getting results by completing the work. If you are an Extravert, here are some questions for you to consider during the interview process when evaluating a new career choice or work environment:
- Do the people typically work together as a team? How does the team typically communicate with each other?
- How quickly are decisions made?
- How much data and analysis and how many levels of approval are required before implementation?
- What results has the team already produced?
- How are results communicated and recognized?
Career Fit and the Preference for Introversion
Most Introverts enjoy work environments that offer some quiet time to think and reflect, less frequent interruptions, time to work alone on a task, and the time to think through presentations, decisions, or information before being asked to respond. If you are an Introvert, here are some questions to consider or ask yourself during the interview process when evaluating a new career choice or work environment:
- Does the work environment provide the opportunity for concentration?
- How is the workspace set up (private office, cubicle, open floor plan)?
- How much autonomy are people allowed when working on tasks?
- What’s the typical mode of communication?
- How frequently does the team meet, and what type of agenda is used and how strictly formatted are meetings?
- How are team decisions typically made (e.g., by project leader, by consensus)?
Career Fit and the Sensing Preference
Most Sensing types enjoy doing precise work. They tend to enjoy companies or positions with established or standard methods in place. They also generally enjoy applying current skills and experiences to their work. If you have a preference for Sensing, here are some questions to think through during the interview process when evaluating a new career choice or work environment:
- How much detailed information does the work call for?
- What is the history of the role?
- Is the organization or position well established or newly created?
- What is your past experience related to the position?
- What processes are in place in the department or role?
- What skills and knowledge do you have that you could apply in this position?
Career Fit and the Intuitive Preference
Intuitive types usually enjoy work environments or career roles that allow for inspiration and creative approaches. They tend to prefer adaptable schedules and work that involves solving new problems. If you have a preference for Intuition, here are some questions to consider when evaluating a new career choice or work environment:
- Does the leader and/or team seem open to new ideas?
- How much routine is expected?
- How much flexibility does the team have in terms of workspace, hours, location?
- What are some examples of new, creative approaches the organization has taken to solving problems?
- Does the organization or team have a clearly stated vision?
- What future learning opportunities are on the horizon?
Career Fit and the Thinking Preference
Most Thinking types prefer positions that involve objective analysis of data, fair assessment of options, and taking an impersonal, logical approach to decision making. If you have a preference for Thinking, here are some questions to think through when evaluating a new career choice or work environment:
- Does the work call for logical analysis of information?
- What criteria are used when key decisions are made?
- How are others involved in the decision-making process?
- What kinds of data are available, and what systems are used to manage them?
- Are clear metrics and measurements of success for the role in place?
- How will performance for the position be assessed?
Career Fit and the Feeling Preference
Most people who have a preference for Feeling enjoy work that allows them to focus on important principles and ethics. They tend to thrive in harmonious environments and like to involve and consider other people in decision making. If you have a preference for Feeling, ask yourself these questions about a potential new position (or an ideal work environment):
- Does the organization have a clear set of values to guide you in how you do your work?
- How competitive is the environment?
- How approachable are the people?
- In the last major team decision, what factors were considered? Who was involved?
- How does the leader or the team view conflict?
- What principles are in place to guide decision making and teamwork?
Career Fit and the Judging Preference
Typically people with a preference for Judging enjoy working on a plan with unambiguous milestones. Judging types tend to be most satisfied when the task is completed, and they enjoy a work environment with clear direction and a path forward. If you prefer Judging, take some time to answer the questions below about a potential new career or ideal career.
- What are the future goals for the position?
- Does the position have a clear job description, or is it one to be developed?
- Will it be clear to others when goals are met?
- How and how often is progress toward goals measured and communicated?
- Does the organization have a three- to five-year strategy or plan in place?
Career Fit and the Perceiving Preference
Most people with a preference for Perceiving enjoy work environments that allow them to adapt to change and new information as it becomes available. Perceiving types are usually comfortable working on several projects at a time and considering new approaches to common problems or situations. If you have a preference for Perceiving, here are some questions to think through during the interview process when evaluating a new career choice or work environment:
- What’s the pace of change in the organization?
- How does the team evaluate decisions and adapt to change?
- Does the work call for multitasking?
- How many projects or initiatives will this position be responsible for?
- Are the people you’ll be working with open to new alternatives?
- What are some examples of new approaches the company has taken in the past one to two years?
Throughout your life, you’ll make career development choices about how you spend your time working and how you choose to navigate your career. Ultimately, you are responsible for your professional success and the satisfaction you gain from it, and since you spend nearly a third of your life working, it makes sense to invest some time and energy into figuring out what will work best for you.
Now that you’ve answered the questions above for your preferences, create a vision of your ideal job and a plan for obtaining it. You can even use the goal-setting tips in this blog to help you create goals to bring this plan into action. If you’re not looking at changing careers right at the moment, you can still expand your current professional skills. Consider new career experiences, such as building your network, taking on special assignments related to the work you want to do (but may not be doing right at the moment), reading about a new occupation, getting feedback through a formal mentor or making a coffee date with someone who’s in a position or career you’re interested in, or attending a formal learning program.
Successful career planning also requires adjusting goals regularly and giving consideration to the overall economic conditions and business trends. Knowledge of the work and growth of the industry you’re in, the general business environment and the economy, and knowledge of MBTI type can all help you find career options that best fit your unique preferences and goals.