When you are next sat in an interview, or interviewing for a new member of staff, you’ll be in a much stronger position if you have an understanding of the Myers-Briggs temperament of the person sat across from you.
If you’ve come across Myers-Briggs before, you may recall there are four personality types - ENFP, ISTJ, ISTP, and ESFJ. These can then be further broken down into 8 roles and 16 role variations.
It sounds complicated but, whilst many of us have more time on our hands than usual, knowing your own personality type and understanding how to use Myers Briggs in future recruitment could be time well spent.
This blog is designed to help you gain a grasp of the four basic temperaments which in turn will help you improve how to communicate with people depending on their personality type, as well as develop a deeper understanding of your own temperament.
Take the TEST now… it takes 10 minutes.
The official Myers Briggs test is long and arduous and should only be administered by a professional but you can gain a basic unofficial understanding of your personality type by taking a simplified Myers-Briggs test. This unofficial test will probably cause trained Myers-Briggs practitioners to roll their eyes with disdain, but it will give you a basic understanding of your personality type and work / communication style.
You will be scored on 4 different metrics and given a classification: (E) Extrovert versus (I) Introvert, (S) Sensing versus (N) Intuition, (T) Thinking versus (F) Feeling, and (J) Judging versus (P) Perception. You can get a quick read of these personality types here.
I’m an ISTJ, which Myers Briggs describes as “Takes pleasure in making everything orderly and organized - their work, their home, their life. Value traditions and loyalty.” Basically, I am a control freak!
I have included a table at the end of this blog outlining each of the 16 personality types.
The Four Temperaments
Psychologist David Keirsey created the Keirsey Temperament Sorter in 1998, the results being the following 4 temperaments:
- SJ (Sensing-Judging) – These are classified as Guardians, the left-brained. Accountants, CFOs, military, and police often fall into this classification. They love detail and are all about safety and security. If you are dealing with an SJ in business they are very conservative and accept new ideas slowly, they tend to be risk adverse. When you are interviewing for a role, they do not want a cascade of revolutionary thoughts, they simply want to know you’ll maintain the status quo because you love it.
- SP (Sensing-Perceiving): This is your Artisan. Firmly the right-brained. They are often artists, musicians, writers, and other types of creatives. They hate detail and can be viewed as flighty. These are the types of people who will start a project and then abandon it in favour of a more exciting new project. If you mention in-depth processes they will switch off.
The SJ and SP together make up 73.5% of the population. You have a 3 in 4 chance of meeting an SJ or SP so well worth getting to know these temperament groups.
- NT (Intuitive-Thinking): The Thinker. Again, a lover of detail coupled with being analytical. They pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake. They will want to know as much detail as possible about a project simply for the sake of gaining knowledge as well as to aid in decision making. If you are being interviewed / interviewing for a role within data / insight or planning, you will for sure meet NTs.
- NF (Intuitive-Feeling): The Idealist. These are people within the helping professions – our wonderful nurses, social workers, etc. They want to make life better and change the world. They lean towards the Artisans, whilst the Thinkers are hanging with the Guardians.
The Idealists and the Thinkers make up 26.5% of the population and although only account for 1 in 4 people you meet, they are arguably easier to spot.
Now you are speaking my language
When talking to any of these temperament groups, you must firstly understand your own temperament so you can tailor your discussion to the things that matter most to them.
If you are in a job interview you need to speak to Guardians about how you will help the company remain stable. Guardians do not want revolutionary new ideas. The Thinker will also want to know this, but they are less interested in stability and more interested in how you are going to measure performance. You need to be on your A game (obviously) with these guys, they are obsessively detail driven.
The Idealist will want to know more about how you can affect change and make things better, and the Artisan will want to know your creative ideas and thoughts for the future. Both groups will talk and talk about everything and anything during the interview. They will click with you, you will fall in love with the opportunity, believe you’ve got the job and can start right away… then you won’t hear anything for weeks. You must not take it personally. When they left the meeting, someone jingled some keys in front of them and they forgot what day it was!
When speaking to people you do not have to pretend to be something you are not. You just need to understand that people relate to people who speak their language and the things they care about.
Please do treat this as an introduction into this complicated but fascinating subject. I would recommend reading extensively before you start practising this subject. If you do need to practice do so on friends and family who cannot sack you!
Below you’ll find a Temperament needs table and also a Temperament and Study Strategies document to help if you are studying.
Get some interesting insights into your temperament type here.
Temperament Needs - Summary Table
At work, Promote:
Contexts & People
People -Caretaking services
People – Entertainment
Light on Details
Wary of Change
Time on task
Work books / structured learning
Hands on learning
Key Relational Role
Work as Play
Rituals & Rewards
Life as play
Be excellent in all things
To thine own self be true
Early to bed, early to rise
Eat drink and be merry
David Keirsey identified 4 temperaments (which can be further broken down into 8 roles and 16 role variants)
Artisans (SP’s) are observant and pragmatic. Seeking stimulation and virtuosity, they are concerned with making an impact. Their greatest strength is tactics. They excel at troubleshooting, agility, and the manipulation of tools, instruments, and equipment. The two roles are:
Guardians (SJ’s) are observant and cooperative. Seeking security and belonging, they are concerned with responsibility and duty. Their greatest strength is logistics. They excel at organizing, facilitating, checking, and supporting. The two roles are as follows:
Idealists (NF’s) are introspective and cooperative. Seeking meaning and significance, they are concerned with personal growth and finding their own unique identity. Their greatest strength is diplomacy. They excel at clarifying, individualizing, unifying, and inspiring. The two roles are as follows:
Rationalists (NT’s) are introspective and pragmatic. Seeking mastery and self-control, they are concerned with their own knowledge and competence. Their greatest strength is strategy. They excel in any kind of logical investigation such as engineering, conceptualizing, theorizing, and coordinating. The two roles are as follows:
Temperament and Study Strategies
If you have strong Guardian (SJ) tendencies...
1. Watch your tendency to get mired in the details. Remember that some things matter more than others. Particularly, when taking notes, don't copy everything down, but learn how to differentiate between what matters and what only seems to matter.
2. Learn how to pace yourself so that you don't run out of time when the clock is ticking (such as during exams). Don't think you have to read every exam question three or four times... some Guardians have doubled or tripled their exam scores simply by trusting their first impressions more.
3. Don't just memorize information in a verbatim way. Many college courses emphasize theory, not mere facts. Practice rephrasing key concepts in your own words (not just memorizing formal definitions). Try generating original examples (not just memorizing examples offered in lecture).
If you have strong Artisan (SP) tendencies...
1. Find ways to keep yourself engaged in boring classes, since courses with a heavy emphasis on theory and a "talking heads" approach may easily put you to sleep. Ask for opportunities to earn a grade through real-world application of theories and concepts, like internships or field observation.
2. Hold yourself accountable since it's easy for you to procrastinate around activities that aren't much fun. Use the "Premack principle" - reward yourself for doing something you dislike by following it with something you do enjoy.
3. Take the time you need to double-check your answers during exams... don't be in too much of a hurry to rush out of the exam room. Beware your tendency to be overly impulsive. Make sure you haven't missed important information on the exam.
If you have strong Rationalist (NT) tendencies...
1. Don't be confrontational in classroom interactions (especially not with your instructor, who may expect deference or at least common courtesy). Learn how to disagree without alienating others.
2. Don't neglect the facts... in some courses more than others, it's important to get the foundational facts right, even to be nitpickingly precise.
3. Be sure to affirm, not just question... a balanced analysis spends as much time on what's right with something as on what's wrong with it. Learn when (and how) to personalize, to develop and express a subjective opinion.
1. Don't confuse enthusiasm with understanding. Being excited about an idea is one thing; being able to articulate your comprehension of the underlying ideas is something else.
2. Watch your tendency to nonlinearity, to chasing the rabbit where it runs, particularly in writing essays. Don't ramble unnecessarily, which drives more linear types up the wall. Work hard at maintaining a logical, linear focus with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
3. Learn how to logically defend a point of view. It's not enough to be passionate about something; you have to be able to make a rational case for it, which means looking objectively at both pros and cons, both strengths and weaknesses, both assets and liabilities.