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Executive Recruitment

Whether to use Myers Briggs®

Executive Recruitment is a competitive business, and executive recruitment companies seek to provide clients with a premium service, comprehensive information and high quality recommendations.

executive recruitment and mbti

In that context, it seems sensible to use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator questionnaire - one of the most widely used and researched 'personality tests' in the world.

Or does it?

Executive Recruitment Assessment

Executive Recruitment involves an extended process - from familiarisation with the client to persuading the right candidate to accept the job. It also requires a range of skills, such as understanding the culture and aspirations of the client organisation in order to identify the unspoken selection criteria and find a candidate that fits.

Assessment of the candidate is just one part of that overall process - though a key one. The quality of assessment is usually improved if objective assessment techniques are used to complement the interviews. And this is where psychometrics (personality questionnaires) can play a role: in providing better assessment of the candidate and giving useful information to the client.

Should the MBTI® instrument be used?

The ethical code of practice for MBTI practitioners says that the MBTI can be used in areas such as career counselling, but it should not be used for making recruitment decisions.

However, one might argue that the motivation for this statement is a rather idealistic one: a "soft and fluffy" argument that we have to be nice to everyone, or pandering to a small part of the community of MBTI users who mistakenly believe that the world should share their values of equality-for-all. In the "real world", so the argument goes, one has to accept the harsh reality of business life. No one may want to admit it but in certain jobs some types of people are more successful than others. In that context, it might seem to be important to provide some form of assessment of personality type.

This argument is based on the philosophy that "meeting the business need" is more important than sentiment. Perhaps the argument is akin to scientists developing the atom bomb against the wishes of pacifist Einstein. He produced the science on which the atom bomb is based, and although he was opposed to it, pragmatism and technological advance should take precedence over sentiment.

However, this argument is mistaken, because the imperative against using the MBTI in recruitment is not based on sentiment, but on business need. Using the MBTI in executive recruitment is not providing a premium service. On the contrary, it can lead to poor or even disastrous recruitment decisions, for three main reasons:

Whilst the MBTI questionnaire can be used for some applications that don't require these things (eg: personal development, team building, career counselling), it is not appropriate for those contexts that do (ie executive recruitment).

If you would like further explanation of the three points, above, read:

Executive Recruitment part 2
(more information on faking, validity and competence)

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