- Personality indicators like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) analyze and categorize people’s personalities through a series of questions. It is based on the work of psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, Katharine Cook Briggs, and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers.
- The “Big Five” (NEO Personality Inventory) is another popular example of such a test.
The use of inventories is quite common, especially in the field of personal development. The MBTI is still one of the most popular personality instruments in use. It measures answers in terms of four opposing qualities that characterize a person. Every quality is represented by a letter. Alina may be profiled as INFP, which stands for introversion, intuition, feeling, perception. She is an introverted intuitive team player who wants to involve everyone and prefers to take time making decisions rather than acting quickly.
Joana may be type ESTJ, which stands for extraversion, sensing, thinking, judgment. When she feels sad, she calls her best friends and meets up with them. It is easy for her to find logical solutions to nearly every problematic situation. But when trying to find solutions in a team, she always becomes anxious and impatient.
These two types might not find themselves naturally in a common team. But it might also make sense for them to work together because of the ways their personalities complement one another. Inventories like the MBTI can increase our awareness of certain aspects of our behaviour. Like self-awareness and observation, they give us information about the importance of different attributes. Tests are based on experience with many people and make general statements that summarize statistical probabilities. Inventories are more useful for self-observation rather than exact description. They often lack precision or are ambiguous. 
Personality inventories are also used to profile applicants in businesses or participants in management trainings. But this is also where the problem of these tests’ lack of scientific reliability should be considered.
In interpreting information from an inventory, you should also be aware that feelings, predictions, and behavior vary from situation to situation. Individuals perform differently in different contexts. Last but not least, one can ask whether the use of clinical psychology inventories suit your purposes in a general way.
With these ways of organizing our thoughts about people’s personalities, we can also focus on people’s behavior in teams and understanding and influencing the group dynamics.
- Franc Coffield, David Moseley, Elaine Hall, Kathryn Ecclestone: Learning and pedagogy in post 16 learning. A systematical and critical review. Learning and Skills Research Centre, London 2004
- N. Zimmermann: /Mentoring Handbook - Providing Systemic Support for Mentees and Their Projects; Berlin 2012; MitOst; ISBN 978-3-944012-00-1