True story: One of my former employers used to give a bunch of tests as part of the hiring process, including the Wonderlic test (you know, the intelligence test the NFL gives to all its players). The catch was, they scored your test and put it away in your personnel file AND NEVER REVEALED THE RESULTS TO YOU. I still do not know to this day whether I am a Pat McInally (Wonderlic test score=50) or a Morris Claiborne (Wonderlic test score=4).* Yes, I asked for my score a couple of times, and was shot down. I should have known then that an employer who keeps a secret intelligence and personality profile on you is no good. Anyway.
Another test they gave was the Myers-Briggs personality test. If you’re not familiar with Myers Briggs, it’s a psychological test that pinpoints 16 personality types. Employers often use it to see how employees will fit in with a company’s culture or within a specific job role. Or in my experience, maybe just to keep it in some secret file and never tell you why. But mostly for the former reason, I suppose.
Out of curiosity, I recently took a free online version of the test, and my result was “INFJ” which stands for “introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging.” I handed a description of this personality type over to my husband and he said it was “spot on.” Apparently we INFJs are inscrutable loner weirdos who are well-suited to doing jobs that further the greater good, and while we tend to be visionaries we also tend to follow projects through to completion. The descriptions I’ve found of this type seem to fit me. I also find it interesting that I switched careers in the past couple of years and I finally feel like I know what I want to do when I grow up -- non-profit fundraising. How very INFJ of me!
My dude also took the test and got “INTJ” which is introverted, intuitive, thinking, judging. “This is the worst personality type,” he said, “This test is stupid. I don’t want to judge anyone,” and then he closed his browser window and refused to discuss it further.
According to the Myers-Briggs people, there is no “right” personality type, and all are equal. The aim is to identify behavior patterns of one type and use it to understand how to interact with people of other types -- this is why it’s so popular with employers. It helps them to assess how people will work in a team environment.
But is it all bullshit? When we take these tests, or look up our horoscopes or read our birth charts, we tend to “play to type.” Interestingly enough, just days after I’d taken the MBTI, Lesley sent around this article about how Myers-Briggs is actually, probably, most likely a bunch of doo doo.
But I find all this fascinating, in the same way I find astrology fascinating -- I believe it can be used as a tool for self awareness, but I also don’t think it’s wise to let it limit me in such a way that I’m “playing to type.” For example, I’m a double Scorpio (sun and rising) with like five other planets in Scorpio, which should technically make me a nightmare person, but I try not to let that limit my ability to be a decent human being. In fact, I use these maybe-not-so-scientific tests in order to better understand myself and maybe work on the parts that I don’t find ideal -- like my lifelong struggle to feel comfortable in social situations. Which, by the way, is soooo INFJ.
Have you taken the Myers-Briggs test? What’s your type, baby? And is it all a bunch of pseudo-science garbage?
*I don't know anything about football, and I have no idea who these players are -- but the Internet says they had, respectively, the highest and lowest Wonderlic scores of all NFL players.
Somer is on Twitter: @somersherwood