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Personality Type Characteristics – Reference 1.1

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator© (MBTI©) is one of thousands of Instruments (as they are often referred to) that attempt to measure some aspect of an individual’s intelligence, personality, aptitude, etc. The MBTI is designed to measure your personality type characteristics and is the most widely-used instrument for that purpose worldwide. It has been updated and rigorously validated for over seventy years. The MBTI is commonly used in team environments to help individuals understand why they think the way they do and understand why others could think differently. It is often used to balance differing personalities in groups so they can work together more effectively.

Although not designed specifically for helping people to make better career choices, it is an excellent tool that can often help point people toward a generalized career direction that would be more natural for their particular personality style. Using it to make hiring decisions is an inappropriate use of the MBTI and in some locations it may even be illegal to use it for that purpose.

The MBTI measures four basic characteristics summarized as follows:

  • Introversion vs. extroversion – This is not what it seems. It measures where you get your energy – internally or externally.
  • Sensing vs. iNtuition – This is how you take in information. Either your senses tell you what is there or you think about possibilities, what ifs and alternatives.
  • Thinking vs. Feeling – This is how you tend to make decisions, based on your head or your heart
  • Judging vs. Perceiving – This is how you live your life. You approach situations logically and rationally or you are more flexible and spontaneous.

Putting the results together, the MBTI will give you a four-letter designation, like ISTJ or ENFP, who would be type opposites. ISTJs are commonly found in accounting and enforcement roles and ENFPs are often in teaching and counselor roles. Since some people test with a very clear type while others are much less clear, it often takes someone who is MBTI Certified to determine your natural and adaptive style.

In chapter 1 of 12 Steps to a New Career, a simple description lists the four characteristic and gives you an opportunity to see if you can clearly distinguish between the two options to see if you clearly fit into a particular type. The purpose of the exercise is to give you a feel for how you might think about your career options but please do not make career decisions based solely on this exercise. Knowing your type can suggest fields you may want to consider and which ones you might want to avoid.

Here are brief descriptions of each of the 16 different types:


Sensing Types

ISTJ – Planner Inspector – Guardian, Chart-the-Course
Snapshot: Quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic and responsible. Decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. Take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized—their work, their home, their life. Value traditions and loyalty.
Keywords: Organized, decisive, follows-through, gets things done, maintains existing framework.
Typical careers: Management and administration, law enforcement, accounting.

ISTP – Analyzer Operator – Artisan, Chart-the-Course
Snapshot: Tolerant and flexible, quiet observers until a problem appears, then act quickly to find workable solutions. Analyze what makes things work and readily get through large amounts of data to isolate the core of practical problems. Interested in cause and effect, organize facts using logical principles, value efficiency.
Keywords: Analytical, problem-solver, technical knowledge and expertise, adaptable, takes risks.
Typical careers: Technically oriented profession, engineer, lawyer, science, military, and law enforcement.

ISFJ – Protector Supporter – Guardian, Behind-the-Scenes
Snapshot: Quiet, friendly, responsible, and conscientious. Committed and steady in meeting their obligations. Thorough, painstaking and accurate. Loyal, considerate, notice and remember specifics about people who are important to them, concerned with how others feel. Strive to create an orderly and harmonious environment at work and at home.
Keywords: Organized, preserves what works, builds consensus, people skills.
Typical careers: Health care professional and support personnel, teaching, religious, and social services.

ISFP – Producer Composer – Artisan, Behind-the-Scenes
Snapshot: Quiet, friendly, sensitive and kind. Enjoy the present moment, what’s going on around them. Like to have their own space and work within their own time frame. Loyal and committed to their values and to people who are important to them. Dislike disagreements and conflicts, don’t force their opinions or values on others.
Keywords: Gentle persuader, craftsman, adaptable, people skills, builds consensus.
Typical careers: Service occupations in health care and business, skilled trades.

iNtuitive Types

INTJ – Conceptualizer Director – Rational, Chart-the-Course
Snapshot: Have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry it through. Skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance – for themselves and others.
Keywords: Strategic, analytical, problem solver, conceptual design, planning.
Typical careers: Executive, law, architect, computer professional, management consultant, engineer, scientist.

INTP – Designer Theorizer – Rational, Behind-the-Scenes
Snapshot: Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Theoretical and abstract, interested more in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained, flexible and adaptable. Have unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in their area of interest. Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical.
Keywords: Analytical, problem solving at system level, technical knowledge and expertise, adaptable, conceptual design.
Typical careers: Computer professional, architect, executive, social scientist, writer, artist.

INFJ – Foreseer Developer – Idealist, Chart-the-Course
Snapshot: Seek meaning and connection in ideas, relationships and material possessions. Want to understand what motivates people and are insightful about others. Conscientious and committed to their firm values. Develop a clear vision about how best to serve the common good. Organized and decisive in implementing their vision.
Keywords: Imagination, sense of purpose, creativity, organized, develops others.
Typical careers: Counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, religion, teacher, trainer, marketing, artist.

INFP – Harmonizer Clarifier – Idealist, Behind-the-Scenes
Snapshot: Idealistic, loyal to their values and to people who are important to them. Want an external life that is congruent with their values. Curious, quick to see possibilities, can be catalysts for implementing ideas. Seek to understand people and to help them fulfill their potential. Adaptable, flexible and accepting unless a value is threatened.
Keywords: Sense of purpose, creative, people skills, adaptable, gentle persuader.
Typical careers: Counselor, psychologist, social worker, artist.


Sensing Types

ESTP – Promoter Executor – Artisan, In-charge
Snapshot: Flexible and tolerant, they take a pragmatic approach focused on immediate results. Theories and conceptual explanations bore them – they want to act energetically to solve the problem. Focus on the here-and-now, spontaneous, enjoy each moment that they can be active with others. Enjoy material comforts and style. Learn best through doing.
Keywords: Entrepreneurial, crisis management, selling and promoting, adaptable, takes risks.
Typical careers: Marketing, skilled trades, sales, small business manager, law enforcement.

ESTJ – Implementer Supervisor – Guardian, In-Charge
Snapshot: Practical, realistic, matter-of-fact. Decisive, quickly move to implement decisions. Organize project and people to get things done, focus on getting results in the most efficient way possible. Take care of routine details. Have a clear set of logical standards, systematically follow them and want others to also. Forceful in implementing their plans.
Keywords: Organize people and tasks, analytical, problem solving at functional level, developing and running processes and procedures, decisive.
Typical careers: Management and administration, law enforcement, small business manager, technical teaching, purchasing, production.

ESFP – Motivator Presenter – Artisan, Get-Things-Going
Snapshot: Outgoing, friendly and accepting. Exuberant lovers of life, people and material comforts. Enjoy working with others to make things happen. Bring common sense and a realistic approach to their work, and make work fun. Flexible and spontaneous, adapt readily to new people and environments. Learn best by trying a new skill with other people.
Keywords: Adaptable, enthusiastic, high energy, motivate others, negotiation, consensus building, problem solving.
Typical careers: Service fields, health care, teaching, coaching, child care, skilled trades, designer.

ESFJ – Facilitator Caretaker, Guardian, Get-Things-Going
Snapshot: Warmhearted, conscientious and cooperative. Want harmony in their environment, work with determination to establish it. Like to work with others to complete tasks accurately and on time. Loyal, follow through even in small matters. Notice what others need in their day-by-day lives and try to provide it. Want to be appreciated for who they are and for what they contribute.
Keywords: Develop effective procedures, decisiveness, maintain and preserve what works, people skills, consensus builder.
Typical careers: Education, healthcare, personal services business as a small company or as a function in a larger organization.

iNtuitive Types

ENFP – Discoverer Advocate – Idealist, Get-Things-Going
Snapshot: Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.
Keywords: Ideas and possibilities, enthusiasm, high energy, people skills, adaptable, creative.
Typical careers: Counseling, psychologist, teacher, religion, artist, PR, musician, composer.

ENFJ – Envisioner Mentor – Idealist, In-Charge
Snapshot: Warm, empathetic, responsive and responsible. Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Find potential in everyone and want to help others fulfill their potential. May act as catalysts for individual and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership.
Keywords: Organized, develops human resources, consensus builder, people skills, high-energy, enthusiastic.
Typical careers: Religion, counselor, physician, designer, executive and leadership coaches.

ENTP – Explorer Inventor – Rational, Get-Things-Going
Snapshot: Quick, ingenious, stimulating, alert and outspoken. Resourceful in solving new and challenging problems. Adept at generating conceptual possibilities and then analyzing them strategically. Good at reading other people. Bored by routine, will seldom do the same thing the same way, apt to turn to one new interest after another.
Keywords: Creative, problem solving at systems level, analytical, technical, entrepreneurial.
Typical careers: Science, management, technology, arts, marketing, computer professional, psychiatrist.

ENTJ – Strategist Mobilizer – Rational, In-Charge
Snapshot: Frank, decisive, assume leadership readily. Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies, develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems. Enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in presenting their ideas.
Keywords: Organzation, problem solving at systems level, decisive, analytical, long-range vision.
Typical careers: Executive, management, leadership, consultant, HR, computer professional, physician, marketing.

If you would like to read more about each of the different types to see how they might relate to your career direction or to use a simple questionnaire called the Keirsey Temperament Sorter that yields a similar assessment, go to the career-related books relating to Career Strategy and Advancement.