Meyers-Briggs Personality Testing: Anecdotal Observations

August 23, 2007

Personality tests have always held a certain amount of fascination for me. I vacillate between thinking they have the same credibility as horoscopes and really believing they have some keen insights. I have blogged on personality assessments previously so I won’t repeat the legal issue.

Kris Dunn, at the hr capitalist has a great post on Hiring Jason Bourne via the Myers-Briggs Assessment. Kris concludes that Jason Bourne is an ISTP. I was wondering if this classification appropriately places him in his current occupation (CIA hit man). Furthermore, how would he fit in your organization?

Career and Personality Tests On-Line lists the following traits for many ISTPs in an organization:

[A] good job includes being rewarded for paying attention to what is logical, allows for hands-on experiences, and gives them freedom to do the work as they see fit. They often enjoy work that is project oriented and task focused, particularly if it involves immediate problem solving. Independence and autonomy are likewise important for ISTPs at work. Action is usually more important and interesting to them than long discussions. ISTPs often lead by example, and expect each person to contribute to the group effort. They can be quite expedient, finding the best solution for the moment. They usually dislike both giving and receiving close supervision. Many ISTPs can keep track of all kinds of detailed information and can become the source of "institutional knowledge" for an organization.

Some areas where ISTPs can have difficulties include taking shortcuts to get things done and skipping important steps. They might miss sharing information with others, who then assume the ISTP is uninvolved, unconcerned, and lacks interest. Sometimes, in their hurry to get things done, they can jump to a new task before the previous one is finished. Perseverance can be a problem. Likewise, goal setting can be difficult. The focus on the immediate can make it hard to look at the long term and plan accordingly, or even create a plan in the first place.

Based on this summary, I’m thinking Jason Bourne, Vice-President of Human Resource.   The Personality Page has a Geocities page that list the following occupations for an ISTP:

Police, detectives, forensic pathologists, computer programmers, system analysts, computer specialists, engineers, carpenters, mechanics, pilots, drivers, athletes, entrepreneurs, firefighters, paramedics, construction workers, dental hygienists, electrical engineers, farmers, military, probation officers, steelworkers, transportation operatives, hitmen. With the ability to stay calm under pressure, they excel in any job which requires immediate action.

Right now, I am in the camp of thinking these personality test are right on the mark.  But wait, how can hit men and dental hygienists both be ISTPs?  Now, I am vacillating again.  Jason Bourne, Dental Hygienist?  That’s why I’m not the Hollywood director.