Personalities change, but MBTI doesn’t

The Myers-Briggs personality test is past its prime, but a lot of companies rely on it anyway.

Martha Pietruszewski

My personality depends on the day. I could be easily annoyed at everyone, or I could be feeling like Pharell. … That’s “Happy,” in case you were wondering. So why is it that I’m expected to conform to one personality type?
 
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been around since work began on it in 1942, and it has been a mainstay in psychology curricula, businesses and government agencies ever since. It’s seen as a rite of passage — once you take the test, you finally have your place in the world. 
 
However, this thinking needs to change. The MBTI is an outdated test that is ineffective and disregarded by the scientific community. It’s also not accurate — 50 percent of people get a different result when they take the test a second time, even if it’s just a few weeks later.
 
If companies are so desperate to hire workers who are a good fit for them, then why don’t they just get to know employees better? The MBTI may seem like a cheap alternative to actually talking to people, but, surprisingly, it’s not. 
 
The test costs between $15 and $40 per person, and the organization behind the MBTI requires the person who administers the test to be certified. Of course, certification requires a $1,700 fee. If companies assume an employee will be the same personality type for the duration of their entire tenure, then they’re wrong.
 
Humans change often. I am no longer the same person I was two years ago. I’ve had more life experience and realized that it’s OK to be a little bit introverted. If I was put in a job that was right for me at one point in my life, and then my personality type changed, I might waste my time in a position I wasn’t suited for. 
 
Organizations need to realize this instead of relying on a test and letting individuals depend too much on personality types to shape their future. 
 
When I was 16, I took the MBTI in psychology class. The test told me I was an extroverted achiever. I then felt that, throughout the rest of high school, I needed to be this social butterfly who was good at everything. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t, and because of this, I had to do some soul-searching. Was it OK if I didn’t match the personality type that
the test told me to be?
 
Yes, it was OK. But I learned that strict adherence to the test’s expectations can damage one’s mental health.
 
I understand why companies use the MBTI — it’s a convenient way to get a feel for employees. Human resources departments may not have the time or the money to issue a better test or to conduct more thorough interviews. That’s OK for now but not forever.
 
New and innovative solutions need to take the MBTI’s place. Perhaps there could be a group case interview for each candidate, along with an individual interview. This way, companies could see candidates in different situations before they made a final hiring decision.
 
In case you’re wondering, I still don’t know my exact personality type. And you might get a different answer depending on whom you ask. But at least my mom loves me.