Your Career Services Advisor here, writing to our students about my thoughts on “culture fit” and personality tests – only recently did it come to my attention that many people consider these two things inherently linked!
Quinisha Jackson-Wright wrote a compelling article in the New York Times a couple months ago about MBTI and her negative experiences with its being used in the work-place. Readers responded about a week later, highlighting their concerns regarding how Jackson-Wright’s previous employers used the MBTI.
Some key mentions from the article:
- “[Jackson-Wright’s] company made completing the assessment mandatory. When used ethically, the M.B.T.I. is never mandatory.”
- Employees should not be forced to share their types with their colleagues.
- In Jackson-Wright’s experience, her type did her harm by putting her in another “box” to be judged by. It doesn’t have to be this way.
We always encourage students to approach a job interview with a couple of solid questions about the job and organization to which they applied. I stand by it – you are interviewing the organization as much as your potential colleagues are interviewing you for the job. You want to feel confident that you will learn from that position, and hopefully enjoy it, too.
When I talk about “culture fit,” I am referring to how an organization’s mission and values align with a candidate’s mission and values. What is the purpose of the organization? What’s the end goal? How are employees treated as a part of reaching the end goal?
Most of us want to be supported by our supervisors and colleagues in the office space. That might look a little different depending on the organization’s values and resources, but at the end of the day, we all want to be respected for the work we get done and how we get our work done.
In retrospect it was a bit naive of me, but it came to me as a bit of a surprise that personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), would get ensnared in this concept of “culture fit.” Particularly when we discuss “diversity in the workplace,” different ways of thinking and approaches to problem-solving are extremely valuable.
The concepts of “culture fit” and “diversity in the workplace” have come to a clash, and personality has gotten wrapped up in the game of tug-of-war. You want to work somewhere where you believe in the mission, you feel valued as an employee, and you enjoy working with your colleagues. “Diversity” means a number of things outside of personality – race, gender, nationality, what schools you attended, whether or not you went to college, etc. – that won’t impact dedication to the mission of an organization. And personality as defined by tests shouldn’t either.