How to Redesign your Career to Avoid Burnout, Using Personality 

Whether you have resigned with a plan or without one, one thing is for sure, you don’t want to make the same mistakes as last time. You want to avoid joining a company with a culture or manager that doesn't understand you, or that doesn't allow you to be yourself.

There are a number of factors that contribute to burning out at work - one of which is not being able to work in a way that suits your natural style. You need an environment that matches your personality. You want to feel supported, challenged and engaged, not over-stretched with unrealistic expectations and people questioning your abilities.

We all experience burnout when one or more of the following things occur at work: 

  • Not having enough time to complete your work in a satisfactory manner
  • Insufficient support or communication from your manager
  • Unclear or shifting expectations about your responsibilities 
  • An unmanageable workload 
  • Being treated unfairly, whether that is by a manager, management or a co-worker  

Some of these things are outside your direct control. What is within your control is understanding what you need to thrive at work and learn how to identify an environment that matches those needs. Armed with that knowledge, we can ask the right questions in the interview and, as part of our due diligence, to see whether the job is likely to be a match. Remember, you are interviewing the employer as much as they are interviewing you! 

What to ask in an interview 

Once you have a good idea of what you need for your personality type, you can start to ask questions in the interview process to determine whether it’s a match. You are trying to determine how the organization works, what they expect of people, whether the manager communicates in a way that works for you, how the workload is managed, and whether job expectations are fluid or follow the job description closely. 

Some questions you can ask to gather this information are:

  • Tell more about the projects you and the team are working on.
  • What expectations do you have around your employees and team?
  • How does your team communicate with each other?
  • How frequently do you communicate with employees?
  • How do you manage unexpected changes to the project plan?
  • Are role responsibilities fluid or fixed? 

What you need in a workplace environment 

Our personality type can tell us a lot about what we want and need from the workplace. One insight it can share with you is about what you need in a workplace to feel like you can work in a way that feels natural to you. 

Write down your Myers-Briggs type, and circle the outer two letters. These two letters will give you some great clues about what you need as well as inspire some questions you can ask in the interview process. Here’s the breakdown. 

EP: Extraverted Perceivers need freedom to explore with their work 

In their workplace environment, EPs (ESTPENTPESFPENFP) need to feel free to move around the office whenever they want , whether that is an actual office or an at-home one!  EPs find it easier to work in short bursts, so they find some distractions helpful. They prefer to be able to speak to people as and when they need to, rather than having to wait for a formal meeting. And because they work in short bursts, they prefer tasks or projects with short timelines - anything too long just feels like it will weigh them down.

If you are an EP, ask yourself:

  • What is the ideal project length for me?
  • What sort of distractions do I find increase my productivity?
  • What makes me feel trapped or limited at work?

In an interview you could ask:

  • I do some of my best work while talking to people, is that something that is encouraged in your workplace?
  • What is the typical length of projects? How are deadlines managed?
  • What is your approach to managing people? 

EJ: Extraverted Judgers need organization around clear principles 

In their workplace environment, EJs (ESTJENTJESFJENFJ) need a sense of order, organization and control. They don’t need to be in charge, but they need confidence in the person who is. They want to be provided with an organizational chart that clearly shows where everyone sits in the hierarchy and what their role is. They also want to have a clear idea about what their role and responsibilities are.  

If you are an EJ, as yourself:

  • What makes me feel confident that an organization is organized?
  • What clarity do I need in my role?
  • What makes me feel confident I am doing what is needed?

In an interview you could ask:

  • What systems do you have in place to ensure a project runs smoothly?
  • What are my responsibilities and how do you determine success?
  • Who are the stakeholders I am responsible to? What do they expect of the person in this role?

IJ: Introverted Judgers need calm predictability 

In their workplace environment, IJs (ISTJINTJINFJISFJ) need an environment that is grounded, calm and quiet. A place that isn’t too noisy, that appreciates a methodical approach to tasks with clear deadlines. They prefer to have clear expectations without being overloaded with too many tasks. They prefer to work on a single task at a time and work in an environment with few distractions. 

If you are an IJ, ask yourself:

  • What makes me feel grounded at work?
  • In what way do I manage my own timelines?
  • How much stimulation can I tolerate in a workplace? 

In an interview, you could ask:

  • Do unexpected, last minute changes happen often? How do you respond to them?
  • Do you have regularly scheduled team meetings?
  • How do you communicate your expectations around tasks and projects?

IP: Introverted Perceivers need space to contemplate 

In a workplace environment, IPs (ISTPINTPISFPINFP) need a palace where they can be themselves; where they won’t be tied down by rules, structure or requirements. They need to be able to put all their time and attention into whatever problem they are trying to solve, and be able to go wherever they need to in order to solve it - whether that is inside their mind or into action to build something. IP’s really need a workplace that is genuine, honest and authentic.

If you are an IP, ask yourself:

  • What is my approach to solving problems? How can a workplace support that?
  • What rules or structure support how I work? What kind undermines it?
  • What feels authentic to me?

In an interview, you could ask:

  • How would you describe the way people work here in three words?
  • I take my time to really think through a problem before I provide a solution, is that an approach people support here?
  • What would you say are the blindspots of this organization? What aren’t they very good at?  

Final thoughts

The key to finding a career in which you feel able to be yourself and do whatever you shine at, is by getting a clear sense of who you are and how you want to spend your time. You will have several skills and interests that you want to focus on. Then by understanding your personality, you can articulate to yourself, and prospective employers, how you work. 

The clearer you are on what you want and need, the more likely you are to find your way to a workplace that fits just right. In our course, “Unlocking the Power of your Personality”, we go into more detail about what each type needs from an environment, their communication style and how they respond to change. You might find that it's just what you need to help you find a job that aligns with the true you. Learn more here.

Samantha Mackay

Samantha is the Lead Trainer at Truity and will shortly be a certified Enneagram Coach. She believes our personality is the key to navigating life's strangest hurdles. Despite her best efforts Samantha is an ENTP and Enneagram 7, who is always surrounded by a pile of books, a steaming cup of tea and a block of her favourite chocolate. Samantha is currently studying with Beatrice Chestnut and Uranio Paes of CP Enneagram Academy undertaking their Professional Enneagram Certification. Currently located in Auckland, New Zealand. Find her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samanthamackay/. Check out her course "Unlocking the Power of Your Personality" at www.truity.com/training

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THE FINE PRINT: Myers-Briggs® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., which has no affiliation with this site. Truity offers a free personality test based on Myers and Briggs' types, but does not offer the official MBTI® assessment. For more information on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, please go here.

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