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To Hire or Not to Hire?: Type and Application Screening

Deborah G. Thompson
(Georgia Association for Psychological Type Newsletter, OCT 97)

The Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT) occasionally hears from people who have been turned down for jobs because they were told, "You are the wrong type." This is an obvious misuse of the MBTI® or any personality assessment. Legally, a job applicant cannot be turned down for a position solely on the basis of type. Hiring criteria must be clearly linked to job performance.

In 1995, Mary McCaulley wrote in the Bulletin of Psychological Type, "Unless you can prove that MBTI scores relate specifically to performance in a specific job, it would be unethical and unwise to hire on the basis of MBTI." A review of the literature and informal interviews with type practitioners shows general agreement that the MBTI should not be administered to job applicants.

Some, however, believe that the use of assessment tools, including the MBTI, helps them make the best decision for their company and the applicant. These people also say that while the required set of job skills might seem best suited for certain types, they often hire people who do not report those preferences. They know that type is just another piece of information to be considered and never the determining factor in hiring. There is a world of difference in experience and maturity levels between a person who bases a hiring decision on type alone and one who realizes that type provides some generalized information, at best.

Yet, even if the applicant does not complete an MBTI, doesn't the decision maker's knowledge of type impact job screening, interviewing and, ultimately, hiring? Suppose a company needs a person to: oversee the day-to-day details of office procedures; keep track of information, people and resources in a timely and organized manner; interact with vendors, clients and office staff in a courteous, professional manner. Do certain preferences come to mind based on the skills required for this job? You might be surprised.

Psychologist William James said that at any point in time we are the sum total of all our experiences up to that point in time. From a systems perspective, once a person knows about type, that person can't not use it. One article, recommending against the use of the MBTI in hiring, described how an interviewer with a "job type" in mind could use behavioral interviewing techniques to "listen for evidence of type preferences needed on that job."

One concern of administering the MBTI to job applicants is that applicants are rarely given an opportunity to validate their type. Some qualified instructors believe that about 25% or more of the time, people validate a different type than their MBTI scores predict.

An even greater concern is who trains the people who turn away applicants that are the wrong type? I know of no CPP-sanctioned qualifying program that would knowingly promote this practice. We should all be more aware of what we might say or do to give someone else the wrong idea about the MBTI and its uses and misuses.

The bottom line: While some careers seem to attract greater numbers of certain types, there is no evidence to indicate that any of the sixteen types are incapable of performing any jobs.

© 1997-2006 Deborah G. Thompson

 

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