Emily Marsh June 20 2018

How to choose between Facet5 and the MBTI personality test

Facet5 and MBTI are two popular workplace personality tests used in organisations worldwide. But what's the difference between them? And which is the best solution for your company?

We can all be better at our jobs if we are aware of how to play to the strengths of our personalities, and how to mitigate against the things that could trip us up. And personality profiling provides a tactical solution for raising this self-awareness in employees.

But if you're considering introducing personality profiling into your organisation, you may be wondering which is the best solution to choose.

In this blog, we take a look at two of the most common personality profiling tools used by organisations worldwide: MBTI and Facet5.


MBTI, otherwise known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator,  is one of the oldest and most researched personality profiling tools available.

It was developed in the 1940's by Isabel Briggs-Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs, based on their work with Carl Jung's theory of personality types. The tool was first published in 1962.

MBTI is a type-focused, or ipsative tool, where individuals are identified as one ‘type’ or another. 

Individuals are categorised into one of 16 distinctive personality types that result from the interactions among their preferences for each of four psychological functions;

  • Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I) - where we get our energy from; the outside world or our own inner world.
  • Intuition (N) or Sensing (S) - how we understand and interpret information; focus on basic information or prefer to interpret and add meaning.
  • Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) - how we make decisions; based on logical and consistency, or people and special circumstances.
  • Judging (J) or Perceiving (P) - how we deal with the outside world; prefer to get things decided and planned, or stay open to new information and options.

When you put these four letters together, you get a personality type code. The different combinations make up the 16 possible personality types. For example, ENTJ, ISFP or ESTP.

The simplicity of MBTI makes it easy for people to understand and identify with. However, 'forcing' people into a type, e.g. ‘introvert’ or ‘extravert’, can present a myriad of problems in the workplace. There’s the risk that people will be typecast for certain roles and not given a chance to develop into areas outside of their natural comfort zone. Then there’s the risk that it will create tension and alienation between different personality ‘types’ within an organisation.

Learn more about becoming an accredited Facet 5 practitioner

MBTI has a re-test reliability of between .60 and .79. Simply put, if a person were to retake the test, they would have a 60-79% chance of getting the same result.

Accreditation involves completing a 4-day MBTI Certification course.


Developed by Norman Buckley in the 1980’s, Facet5 is one of the most modern and advanced measures of personality available today.

Facet5 was designed for the workplace in response to client demand for practical information to inform decision making at each stage of an employee's journey.

It is based on the five-factor model of personality (or ‘Big 5’), which is now widely accepted as the best way of describing the fundamental building blocks of personality. These five ‘building blocks’ of a person are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

The Big 5 theory is built on the belief that understanding personality isn’t as simple as Jung’s ‘type’ theory of personality. Instead, it defines personality as the unique pattern of enduring psychological and behavioural traits by which each person can be compared and contrasted to others.

This means that unlike MBTI, Facet5 is trait-focused. It measures ‘how much’ of a trait a person possesses, rather than forcing them into a type. For this reason, Facet5 and other trait-focused tools arguably provide a more up-to-date, accurate portrait of an individual’s personality.

Facet5 measures how much of each of the following factors, that correlate with the Big 5, are inherent in our personality:

  • Will - determined, assertive, independent.
  • Energy - enthusiastic, sociable, involved.
  • Affection - open, sincere, warm, generous.
  • Control - structured, orderly, self-disciplined.
  • Emotionality - this interacts with the other four factors and affects stress tolerance, confidence and emotional states.

An individual’s profile will show a score of 1-10 on each factor, and this builds up a picture of their overall personality.

Employees can also see which of the 17 different ‘families’ of similar profiles they belong to. Like the easy to remember types in MBTI, this gives people something to grasp and carry around with them.

Facet5 has a high re-test reliability, of between .79 and .86, making it one of the most reliable personality profiling tools available.

Like MBTI, accreditation is needed to use Facet5 in your organisation. This involves completing a 2-day course, run by a Facet5 training provider.

So what’s the difference?

First, let’s pull together how MBTI and Facet5 are similar;

  • Both require accreditation to administer
  • Both recognised by the British Psychological Society
  • Both help raise employee self-awareness
  • Both require employees to complete a short online questionnaire

Now, let’s look at the differences.

MBTI and Facet5 are based on two different theories of personality. MBTI is based on Jung’s type theory of personality, while Facet5 is based on the more modern five-factor model of personality.

Over the last two decades, it’s the broad dimensions that make up the five-factor model of personality that psychologists have been most commonly used to measure and develop a better understanding of individual differences.

By focusing on traits rather than type, Facet5 provides a more granular picture of an individual’s personality than MBTI. Facet5 also has a higher re-test reliability than MBTI. And it uses language that instantly mean something to people.

Which is best for my business?

Both MBTI and Facet5 are valuable tools for raising employee self-awareness, and for empowering people to perform at their greatest potential. Whichever tool you choose, this exercise of self-reflection can be extremely powerful for your employees, and as a result, for your organisation.

But while MBTI categorises a person into one of 16 types of personality, with Facet5, there are 1,000,000 possible noticeably different profiles.

Which of these do you think is a better reflection of reality; that there are only 16 types of people? Or 1,000,000 types of people?

MBTI types may be easy to remember, but the greater granularity offered by Facet5 provides employees with a more accurate reflection of their natural preferences and behavioural styles. And the more they can truly understand themselves, the greater chance you have of helping them to be the best they can be and of achieving your business goals.

Beyond the Personality Test

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