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A guide to understanding the MBIT personality test

Talent Assessment | 6 Min Read

A guide to understanding the MBTI personality test


The Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) is one of the most popular personality assessments today. It is available in 29 languages and used by more than 88% of Fortune 500 companies, across 115 countries.

The MBTI test is utilized to understand the personality and aptitude of individuals, offering valuable insights to organizations about their employees. It is widely used in fields like education, leadership and development programs, skills development, organizational training, etc.


What is the Myers-Briggs type indicator?

The Myers-Briggs type indicator, or the MBTI personality test, is a self-reported personality assessment that categorizes people into one of 16 personality types. The test helps organizations discover the distinctive features of employees’ personalities, allowing them to measure their personality traits using four dichotomies (scales): introversion-extraversion (I-E); intuitive-sensing (N-S); thinking-feeling (T-F); and judging-perceiving (J-P). Each scale acts as a spectrum and even though an individual’s personality may not fit into one type perfectly, their four-letter code can indicate which side of each scale the person matches more closely.


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Understanding the four dichotomies of the MBTI test


Introversion vs extraversion (I vs E)

This defines how a person gains energy and how they direct their focus. For example, an extravert tends to feel energized when exposed to external stimuli and social interactions, but an introvert will feel energized through inner reflection and solitude.

Intuition vs sensing (N vs S)

This relates to how a person gathers information. Here, the intuitive will put their trust in their instincts and pay attention to underlying meanings and possibilities. On the other hand, a sensor will rely on their senses and look for details and information.

Thinking vs feeling (T vs F)

This dichotomy is about the way people evaluate information and how they arrive at their decisions. While thinkers will prioritize logical and objective reasoning, feelers are more likely to prioritize personal values, empathy, and emotions.

Judging vs perceiving (J vs P)

This is about the way people approach the outside world. For judges, organization, structure, and closure take priority, while perceivers are more about spontaneity, adaptability, and flexibility.


How was the Myers-Briggs type indicator developed?

The MBTI test was developed by Katherine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Myers. Katherine Briggs had a keen interest in psychology and was inspired by ‘Psychological Types’, which had been published by Carl Jung. Seeing that Jung’s theory of personal difference was complicated, but also very useful, Briggs and Myers started working towards making his writings more accessible and understandable for the general public. World War II had a major impact on their project, as veterans returned from the war and started rejoining the workforce. The mother-daughter duo wanted to find a way that would allow members of the workforce and the returning veterans to understand the other’s point of view better, so they could work well together in the office as well as in society.

The first version of the MBTI test was copyrighted in 1943 and published in 1962. 


How does the Myers-Briggs personality test work?

The MBTI personality test is based on the psychological theory by Carl Jung. According to him, every individual has two main types of personality, which are introvert and extravert, and that both types exist within the same individual. However, which personality type prevails over the other differs from person to person and can help determine their personality, perception, etc.

Additionally, the individual with introverted and extraverted tendencies can further be classified according to more characteristics, namely, thinking, feeling, sense, and intuition. Expanding on this theory, Briggs and Myers added another element to the list – judging – and also worked to make the theory more palatable. Based on these four dichotomies, the 16 personalities of the MBTI personality test emerged, with the name of each type consisting of four abbreviations that represent the classification criteria.


Applications of the Myers-Briggs personality test

1. Personality assessment

The main use for the MBTI personality test is as an assessment tool. This test assists individuals in better understanding their personality type, which can help make sense of certain behaviors or motivations. The test is also used by several organizations as a tool for gaining insights into the personality traits, tendencies, interactions, etc. of employees.


2. Development initiatives

Understanding the MBTI personality traits of employees and even prospective hires can be the catalyst required to start development programs across the organization. The MBTI test can help identify areas that need attention and skills that need to be enhanced.


3. Career coaching and counseling

The MBTI test is also used by career counsellors, so they can help individuals identify their traits and aptitude, which can lead to a suitable career path. Matching the personality type of an individual with work environments and job roles is a good way to ensure that the person is headed in the right direction, on the path towards a fulfilling career that aligns with their strengths and weaknesses. The MBTI personality test can also highlight potential challenges and help build strategies that can help navigate them.


4. Team building

Good team dynamics are key to efficient collaboration. The MBTI test can be beneficial for team building activities as it can help delegate responsibilities among the team in a way that capitalizes on the individual strengths of the team members. Additionally, the test can help team members get a better understanding of each other’s communication styles and personality types. Identifying the diversity of personality types within a team can help minimize conflicts, while fostering camaraderie.


What is the format of the Myers-Briggs personality test?

The MBTI test does not have a time limit. The total number of questions included in the assessment may vary depending on the version of the test being used. For example, the North American version has 93 questions, while the European version has only 88 questions.

The test consists of forced-choice questions, including two statements in each. The test taker will need to decide which statement comes closest to describing them or their thoughts. All statements in these questions correspond to one or the other dichotomy of the Myers-Briggs type indicator. They may not be complete opposites, but the statements represent either side of the scale.


Examples of MBTI test questions

All the questions in the MBTI test consist of two statements that list different values, preferences, etc. Test takers should choose the statement that is more likely to be true in their case. Questions where a choice is simply not possible can be skipped, but skipping questions also means that there will be less data available for the personality evaluation. The following examples are not from the official Myers-Briggs type indicator, but these are the type of questions that have been used to build the MBTI personality test.

a. candid, straightforward, frank or b. tactful, kind, encouraging

b. logical, thinking, questioning or b. empathetic, feeling, accommodating

c. interpret literally or b. look for meaning and possibilities


The 16 personalities of the MBTI test

S. No. Personality type NamePersonality description
1ISTJ The inspector Value order and traditions, practical, organized, responsible.
2ISTPThe craftsman Love solving problems and exploring, independent, adventurous, analytical.
3ISFJThe protector Dependable, warm, nurturing, considerate, committed.
4ISFP The composer Appreciation for individuality and beauty, compassionate, gentle, caring.
5INFJ The counsellor Seeking meaningful connections, idealistic, empathetic, insightful.
6INFP The healer Driven by their core values and authenticity, caring, sensitive, harmonious.
7INTJ The mastermind Long-term thinkers, problem solvers, visionaries, strategic, independent.
8INTP The architect Love learning and analyzing, innovative, curious, logical.
9ESTP The dynamo Thrice in action-packed environments, adaptable, outgoing, energetic.
10ESTJ The supervisor Natural leaders, rule followers, efficient, dependable, organized.
11ESFP The performer Love connecting with others and entertaining, friendly, enthusiastic, spontaneous.
12ESFJ The provider Caring for others, responsible, supportive, social.
13ENFP The champion Value connection and creativity, imaginative, empathetic, enthusiastic.
14ENFJ The teacher Natural leaders, inspiring, warm, charismatic.
15ENTP The visionary Always seeking knowledge and new possibilities, enthusiastic, quick-witted, analytical.
16ENTJ The commander Natural leaders, planners, strategic, confident, assertive.


How reliable is the MBTI test?

The reliability of a psychometric assessment is calculated based on two factors: internal consistency among the questions in the assessment and test-retest reliability and maintained consistency in the results over time. The MBTI personality test stands strong on both aspects, exceeding the requirements for reliability and consistency. Additionally, the organization that publishes the MBTI test, the Myers & Briggs Foundation, has also released four editions of the test’s manual in the years 1962, 1985, 1998, and 2018, which provide a host of information and research-based evidence on the reliability and validity of the MBTI personality test. However, it is important to remember that personalities are constantly evolving aspects that cannot be measured explicitly, and the MBTI test, like all other aptitude and personality tests, should be used to supplement other methods for recruitment or development.


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The Myers-Briggs type indicator is not like other psychometric tests and is not recommended to be used solely as an eligibility criterion for recruitment. However, as the test offers insights into the strengths, weaknesses, and psychological preferences, it can prove to be a very effective addition to training and development initiatives at the workplace.

Mercer | Mettl’s psychometric assessment helps hiring managers find the best fit for job positions. It offers a detailed analysis of a candidate’s positive and dark personality traits, motivations, preferences, cognitive ability, etc. With this tool, organizations can gain insightful data related to the real-world performance of candidates.



1. What are the four types of dichotomies in the Myers-Briggs personality test?

2. How to read the results of the Myers-Briggs personality test?

3. Which are the three rarest MBTI personality types?

Originally published March 8 2024, Updated March 12 2024

Written by

Vaishali has been working as a content creator at Mercer | Mettl since 2022. Her deep understanding and hands-on experience in curating content for education and B2B companies help her find innovative solutions for key business content requirements. She uses her expertise, creative writing style, and industry knowledge to improve brand communications.

About This Topic

Personality assessments are a method of identifying candidates whose characteristics match the role and organization’s requirements. Personality assessments help HRs make effective people decisions by placing people in positions suited to their disposition.

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