I was asked today at lunch, “What type of students do you attract?” I answered, “no one particular type”. The person asking wasn’t asking about personality type but it got me thinking again…
I have been a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) practitioner since 1993 and love that it can be applied to almost every interaction I have with people. Some of the most interesting have been observing my colleagues speak about students I know or have interviewed myself. The interaction almost always goes better when the interviewer and student share similar ‘type’ and have had an easy time establishing rapport. So much so, that I was inspired to offer an MBTI session at the SSATB Annual Meeting a couple of years ago to help admission professionals explore their own type to ensure that there wasn’t any personality type bias in their interviewing and admission processes overall.
The danger simply is that an extraverted or introverted interviewer may get along better with a like-typed student. More often I have heard extraverted colleagues speak about how difficult it was to get a student ‘animated’ in the interview or an intuitive type (future creative) trying to get a more sensing student (grounded in the present) speak about their future. Independent schools need all types just like in society.
Depending on their culture, schools can miss out on the quiet deep thinkers in favour of the more vocal spontaneous types or vice versa.
For prospective students, expect that the person interviewing you may not be just like you. Therefore a little advance preparation can’t hurt, think about things that typically may not be ‘you’ on a day to day basis:
- a subject you can speak about with animation
- something you care deeply about
- How you ‘feel’ about certain events, what you ‘think’ about different subjects
- how you have handled challenges in the past
- how/where you see yourself in the future
- how do you respond to structure, what do you do when there is no structure?
- what is your ideal environment for getting down to school work?
Having answers will help. What energizes you – action, people, ideas, rest; how do you take in information – through your five senses or from seeing patterns and possibilities; how do you make decisions – through logic or their impact on people; and what type of lifestyle do you prefer – structured or more go with the flow? Stephen Covey echoes the sentiment in his, “first seek to understand, then be understood”.
Just as in hiring an employee, MBTI should never be used for candidate selection purposes. If interviewers understand their own preferences, they will ensure that they are getting the best out of their candidates and all ‘types’ at their school.