How to Use Personality Tests in Your Job Search

Job Search

Searching for a job — including studying and preparing for a job — can be a difficult task. For every person who has known they wanted to be a fireman or nurse since they were five years old, there are many more who need help honing in on a career. They also need some guidance in mapping out a long-term plan. The average worker in the U.S. stays at his or her current job just over four years.

What do you like to do? What field do you want to work in? What kind of jobs are available? What’s the job outlook for that field? The kinds of decisions you have to make can look huge, and the questions can seem overwhelming.

That’s why personality tests can be helpful in your job search. Personality tests can answer questions about what you like to do.

Identify Your Strengths and What You Enjoy

If you love talking to people, combine that personal knowledge with potential careers and long-term job outlooks. For example, from 2014 to 2024, one of the fastest-growing job segments will be health care. It’s projected to expand about 20 percent. If you want to move into this industry, factor in your personality to make a good career choice.

You might be happy as a nurse or dietician, who interact with people all day. A records technician, though, would be more involved with record keeping and might fit a quieter personality.

Knowing what kind of jobs mesh with your personality gives you a good roadmap for going forward: deciding on a career, preparing for it, finding a job and doing well in it.

Personality tests can help you discover your personality, and job, strengths.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

There are many personality tests used in job searches, but one of the most widely used in the U.S. is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The Myers-Briggs is loosely based on the work of one of the twentieth-century pioneers of psychology, Carl Jung.

Jung developed the theory that people were either extroverts, who loved being with people and sought out social situations, or introverts, who were quiet and happier being alone than at a party.

The developers of Myer-Briggs built upon his work and expanded it into a multiple-choice personality test that classifies people into categories.

If you feel you don’t belong entirely in any one of the categories below, don’t worry! “Ambiverts” make up about two-thirds of the population — meaning you have both extrovert and introvert characteristics.

There are four categories in the Myers-Briggs:

  • Favorite world – do you like the outer world or your own inner world best? If it’s the outer world (people), you’re an extrovert. Myers-Briggs uses initials as an abbreviation, so extroversion is known as E. If you prefer the inner world of your own thoughts, you’re an introvert (I).
  • Information – do you tend to get information through what you see, hear, smell? Then you get information through your senses (S). If you like to think about the information and interpret it, then you get information primarily through your intuition (N).
  • Decisions – do you like to look at data when making decisions? Do you tend toward rational decision-making based on facts? Then you’re a thinking (T) personality. Do you tend to look at the people and circumstances involved when making a decision? Then you’re a feeling (F) personality.
  • Structure – do you like to decide on matters quickly? If so, you’re a judging (J) personality. Or, do you like to stay open to new information coming in and revise as necessary? Then you’re a perceiving (P) personality.

Each type within the four categories is then combined into four-letter personality types. If you are an extrovert who tends to get information from what you see, and you make quick decisions based on data, you’re an ESTJ — along with about 8.7% of the U.S. population.

Are you more introverted? Do you use intuition to think about information and tend to consider decisions by thinking about the people involved rather than the every single fact? Then you’re an INFP.

Overall, there are 16 possible combinations. Taking a Myers-Briggs test will let you know what your specific combination is.

Using Myers-Briggs in Your Job Search

Once you know your type, you can start thinking about what jobs blend with your personality.

Pragmatic Jobs Work for STs

Do you like to get facts (S) and make decisions based on them (T)? Then look for jobs in which you need to be logical.

If you’re an extrovert (E), you could be an insurance agent or work in a bank. Both need to work with people all day, but their decisions are based on hard and fast numbers.

If you’re an introvert (I), your compatible jobs could be systems administrator or police officer. The reliance on data to make decisions is the same, but you’ll perform your job alone or in a small unit.

  • Job search advice: Use data! Did you increase sales 15% in a summer job? Then be sure to put it in your resume and mention it in the interview. Did complaints decrease 22% once you became the systems administrator in a part-time job? Make sure potential employers know it.

Caretaker Jobs Fit SFs

If you are happy with facts but prefer to make your decisions based on your perception of people, you’ll likely be happy in a niche where you’re a caretaker.

If you’re an E, you might be happy as a nutritionist or cosmetologist. They talk to people all day, and find out what makes them tick. Their decisions are very informed by the individuality of their clients.

If you’re an I, you might be a social worker or a veterinary technician. They too find out what makes people tick, but one-on-one.

  • Job search advice: Tell a story. Did you make sure the creative team all knew each other when you were their secretary? Emphasize your sensitivities toward other people when you’re interviewed — and how that helps your employer.

Theorist Jobs Are Best for NTs

People who use their intuition and make their decisions based on facts are often good at careers requiring them to think through data theoretically and then apply it.

If you’re an E, for example, you might be great as a manager or a real estate agent. You think about how the data works in a given company situation, or what the current real estate market is. Then you make your decisions about the people you’re working with based on data.

If you’re an I, you could be a great software technician or engineer. You think through the data carefully, and then apply it to a situation.

  • Job search advice: In your job interview, stress your thoughtful nature. Did you find the perfect home for a young couple on a tight budget? You used the facts of their finances, but added a nuanced search of neighborhoods to find a home they love. They’ve sent every friend and family member to you since. Tell prospective employers.

Empathic Jobs Bring Out the Best in NFs

If you use your intuition but make decisions based on feelings more than facts, jobs requiring empathy fit your style. Empathy, the ability to feel as other people feel about situations, can be very beneficial in job situations.

If you’re an E, for example, you might want to work in healthcare or a restaurant. In both, it helps to have a feeling for what your clients feel. If you’re an I, you might be an interior design professional or work in a library. You will utilize your feelings, but in situations with buildings or books rather than lots of people.

  • Job search advice: Did you work as a Candy Striper and discover that patients are much happier in a sunny common room than left in their beds? Craft a story that tells employers how much your empathy cut hospitals stays for older patients.

Personality tests such as Myers-Briggs can help you in your job search. They can point you toward certain professions, fields and courses of study. Use them as building blocks toward getting a job that’s a good fit for you.