In my previous article, I discussed how you can leverage your preferences for either introversion or extraversion – preferences based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) – to present an authentic version of yourself during a job interview.
Today, I’ll dive a little deeper and talk about how to leverage the other aspects of your personality type to improve your odds of getting a job that is an excellent fit for you.
Before I begin, it’s important to remember the concept of “flexing” discussed in my previous article. Flexing is about honoring first and foremost who you are, but also flexing or stretching to the other side when a situation calls for behaviors that might be a little outside of your comfort zone.
Sensing vs. Intuition: The Kinds of Information We Like and Trust
Being aware of how you, and others, take in information can help you use the “right” words during an interview. Now, you likely won’t know your interviewer’s personality type preferences, but you can use both sensing and intuition language during the interview and then look for understanding from your interviewer. Remember, honor your preference and then flex as needed.
If you prefer sensing, you likely take in and present information in a sequential step-by-step way. As you are answering questions in an interview (or in life), watch to see how that information is received. If the person is tracking, they will likely give you non-verbal signals – such as nods – as well as a few verbal cues that they understand along the way. If the person is not tracking, you will likely see an impatient demeanor, which could indicate that you’re giving too many specifics in your answers. This may mean your interviewer prefers intuition and would rather you stop giving so much detail and summarize.
Quick Tip: Giving facts and details can serve you well during an interview. Start an answer with your top three points, and then ask the interviewer if they would like more detail.
If you prefer intuition, you probably take in and present information in a “big picture” way. As you answer questions in an interview (or in life), look for your interlocutor’s “elevens” (furrowed lines in the forehead) or questioning eyes. This could mean your interviewer prefers sensing and is not getting the sequential and practical answer they’d like from you. You may be jumping from theme to theme too much. This might be hard for someone who prefers sensing to track.
Quick Tip: It’s fine to start your answer to a question with a big picture summary. Be sure to also back up your summary with a few specific facts and details, either more or less depending on the response from your interviewer along the way. Avoid jumping from tangent to tangent too much.
Thinking vs. Feeling: The Criteria We Use to Make Decisions
Once you have taken in information, you typically then make a decision based on it. The criteria you use to make decisions is often a big part of the interview process. Some interviewers want to know if you can make decisions based on what the job logically requires, and others want to know if you consider how your decisions affect others. While most organizations favor the objectively logical approach (thinking), the empathetic approach (feeling) to decision-making is just as important in my opinion.
People who prefer thinking usually use objective logic to make their decisions. This can come across as appropriate for most jobs, but can sometimes seem a bit too critical for someone like me who prefers feeling. Of course, during an interview you want to adopt a business-first approach. Just remember, the interviewer may also need to know that you consider how your decisions impact others and the values you use to make your decisions.
Quick Tip: When you flex to the feeling side, remember to be genuine. In other words, don’t fake it until you make it. Faking will likely backfire.
People who prefer feeling typically use harmony and values to make decisions about the information they have taken in. In other words, they often can’t help but consider how their decisions are impacting others and/or how their decisions relate to their core values. I prefer feeling and usually come across as sensitive and considerate of others. When my values get stepped on, that can change pretty fast. This can mean I might take things a bit too personally. Imagine if that were to happen during an interview? That reaction might not make the best of impressions. Of course, you should honor those feelings, but you should also make sure you see what is really happening before deciding on how you will act.
Quick Tip: Don’t take things too personally. If the interviewer asks a lot of questions, that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like you or don’t think you’ll be a good fit.
Judging vs. Perceiving: How We Organize Our External World
How you organize your external world and how you present that organizational approach during an interview can make or break your shot at landing the job. Most organizational settings favor the “come to closure” approach. This is a preference for judging – which is not the same as being judgmental, unless you have a habit of coming to closure too soon. Those of us who prefer perceiving like to keep our options open before we decide. People who prefer perceiving may have to flex a little bit more than we would like to in order to succeed in many organizational settings.
People who prefer judging usually get a sense of satisfaction from coming to a decision and sticking to it. That approach can serve you well during an interview when you bring up examples of projects you have completed. Just be prepared to answer questions about what happens when things do not go as planned. These questions can be especially stressful for people with a judging preference, sometimes so much so that they come across as rigid.
Quick Tip: Being decisive is a good thing. Presenting examples during an interview of when you were able to work with change to create positive outcomes shows you know how to balance your judging preference.
People who prefer perceiving usually thrive when they are able to keep their options open and take in more information. This approach can be especially useful during an interview when you bring up examples of how you do not jump to conclusions and how that has led to success in past projects. However, you need to be prepared to show how you can come to closure on time. Remember, most organizations favor the judging approach, which means those who prefer perceiving (myself included) need to flex a little bit more to meet organizational expectations.
Quick Tip: Adapting to change is part of life. Offering examples of how you were able to work through major change in past projects while also getting things done may make you stand out from other candidates.
Interviewing is about more than luck, so I’m not going to wish you that. Instead, I hope you will spend time on understanding yourself. I hope you will be your authentic self in your next interview while also appreciating the importance of flexing as each situation calls for it. Remember, our personality type preferences don’t limit us unless we let them.
Michael Segovia is the lead trainer for CPP, Inc.’s MBTI Certification Programs. He recently presented a TED talk reflecting on how type theory has informed his understanding of his own life story.