I’ll start by explaining the situation that has prompted me to think about this question.
I work in one-to-one language tutoring to adults in Japan, mostly businesspeople. At the high-end of the market, where I work, it’s a stressful job because if the students are paying a lot of money for a lesson, they are usually under intense the gun to improve their skills, and if you’re taking that money then you’re under pressure to get them to improve. Failure to produce these results means that the student will not renew their contract, which affects you because you’re working on commission. Success hinges on being able to do the following:
1) Learning as much as possible about each new student’s job/industry, in a limited time.
2) Getting to grips with a considerable amount of linguistic theory involving the English and Japanese languages, and how things are translated between the two.
3) Combining the knowledge referred to in #2 with the knowledge gleaned by #1, to illustrate a particular linguistic point with example sentences that your student could imagine themselves saying. This almost always needs to be done “on the spot”, because you can’t predict what questions etc. are going to come up.
I worked for 4 years in a very large company that specialised in this, and the vast majority of people who came in couldn’t keep enough students to survive, with over 95% of new hires quitting within the first few months. I can’t blame them for this because I could see both their earnings and the hours they were putting in, and they would have been better off working in a minimum wage job.
Yet, out of the hundreds of people who tried this job, there were about a dozen who did far, far better, and usually stayed for many years. Usually at any one time they would comprise less than 10% of a branch’s staff, but every month they would account for more than 90% of the contract renewals. The gap was very striking, with not a single person in between them and the rest. So from here on I’ll refer to them as the 90% and the 10%, even though the number would have been considerably lower than 10% due to the high turnover among the 90%.
The 10% came to the job from a wide variety of backgrounds. Off the top of my head I call recall that one had been a lawyer, one had been a car salesman and a few had backgrounds in science or maths. However what they had in common was that they were all either one of two MBTI types (a lot of tutors took the test together, and I was able to type the rest).
Most were ENTP, with a handful of ENFPs (who interestingly enough had all majored in maths at university).
What’s interesting is that, while there were some ENTPs and ENFPs among the 90%, they were a real mixed bag. I found people from every type among them.
When you think about it, it makes sense, because Judging types struggle with on the spot creativity, Sensing types struggle with the abstract linguistic theory, and Introverts will burn out from having to talk to people all day. Also, the trans-contextual thinking associated with Ne is absolutely crucial to the on-the-spot synthesis of ideas required for the job.
So now I’ve started my own business in this area and am thinking about recruiting staff. I keep reading that it’s “unethical” to make hiring decisions based on MBTI type, but I’m wondering why that is. Whilst there are some ENTPs and ENFPs that have failed in the role, the other types fail in the role every single time. So why shouldn’t I try to figure out the type of everyone I interview and weed out everyone except the ENTPs and ENFPs? Apart from it being bad for business, if anything I think it’s unethical not to do so, because if I hire other personality types then they’re just going to waste a few weeks or months of their time earning less than minimum wage, until they finally quit, at which point they’re dejected and bitter. Even within language teaching there are so many other different kinds of jobs that they’d be happier in.
And I can’t imagine that this is the only job which some or most types simply cannot do. I’m ENTP and I’m very grateful that my ISTJ accountant loves what she does, because I know that kind of work would drive me insane. And I don’t think I’m the only one because I’ve never met an ENTP in that job.