Myth 5: Assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) and Strong Interest Inventory® generate 100% flawless results.
So how can I vouch for them as a career consultant? The answer is that these assessments, including the MBTI are not intended to be used without the guidance of an experienced practitioner. Unlike a medical test, for example, that confirms whether a patient is carrying a certain virus, psychological instruments point to general tendencies. They are not designed to be provide a diagnosis! Rather, the responses on the instrument can serve as a lens through which to understand the client. I also advise clients to try to answer as though they are living in an “ideal world” to try to prevent responses that are provided because the client thinks that s/he “should” answer a particular way.
A Personal Example
For example, my wife took the MBTI as part of a requirement in a college course. When the professor scored the assessment and gave each student his/her profile, my wife did not recognize herself on the description. Then, the professor placed students into groups with their similar “type” so that they could find commonalities amongst each other. Again, my wife felt like a fish out of water in this group. For this reason, she did not hold much faith in the MBTI assessment at all.
Years later, she re-took the exam. This time, however, she tried to answer with the “ideal world” framework in mind. It revealed that one critical point of her prior results were inaccurate. With this correction, her entire profile changed, revealing a profile with which she really identified. It was a genuine “Eureka!” kind of moment. With these new results, she better understood why her current field of study and career prospects were not such a good fit.
Understanding Inaccurate Results
So why were her first results so skewed? That is a complicated answer, and it points to why it is so necessary to discuss results with an experienced practitioner. In her case, Western culture tends to exalt certain preferences – like logic, hard science, and rationality – above other preferences, such as empathy, cooperation, and emotion. When she answered the assessment the first time, it became clear that she was answering what she considered the right, university-approved kind of answers should be. She knew those initial answers did not reflect how she saw herself, but she blamed the instrument, rather than the way in which the assessment was administered.
This case is actually common. My goal for each client is to help him or her see how our world needs people who embody all of these types, despite what our culture tends to reinforce. In sum, no career assessment is intended to be fool-proof. Take your raw results as a starting point for a rich discussion about yourself. At EPIC Career, we are here to help.