One of the key tenets of the Enneagram is the concept of self-typing. This means that even as an Enneagram expert, I can’t tell you your type. You need to identify yourself.
Self-typing is an important and foundational aspect of the system because your Enneagram type describes a habit of attention and core motivation. I can observe your behavior and give my opinion about what occupies your attention but only you know what motivates you. You are the only person who truly knows what goes on inside your head.
That said, we all have blind spots in our personality and ways we misunderstand ourselves. This is where having the assistance of someone trained in the art of Enneagram typing can be really useful. People who offer Enneagram typing interviews typically have a deep understanding of the Enneagram as well as a rigorous, standard process they follow to help them reach a conclusion. It’s one part art and one part science, and this blend can offer useful insights to help you find your type.
People come to Enneagram typing sessions with a mix of emotions including excitement, nervousness, curiosity, trepidation, and sometimes skepticism. A lot of these feelings are due to the fact they don’t know what to expect.
But after the session, I get feedback like:
“That was really insightful!”
“That was much more fun than I was expecting.”
“I feel like you know me…”
Below I offer a step-by-step guide to demystify the Enneagram typing interview process and to help set expectations should you decide to have one of these sessions yourself.
My Enneagram Typing process follows a very clear structure that is broken into six parts.
- Introduction and guidelines: I spend a couple of minutes explaining that I’ll ask you a series of questions to help you uncover your type. I confirm that everything you say to me is confidential, and describe what to expect in the typing process.
- General overview: I start the interview with some open-ended questions to help me understand your view of your personality. I ask you to give me four or five words or phrases you would use to describe yourself. I ask what you like the most about your personality and also what is most challenging. I ask how your friends and family might describe you.
- Type specific questions: Next I walk you through a series of standard questions to help me understand what you pay attention to and what is important to you. Each of these questions was created with one of the nine Enneagram types in mind. Because we do a dynamic interview, I can ask follow up questions and dig a little deeper if the questions seem to resonate or align with your thought patterns. I’ve developed these questions over my eight years of doing Enneagram typing interviews and because I’ve consistently asked the same questions, I’ve been able to see trends and notice patterns.
- Interview wrap up: I close the interview portion with a few concluding questions including “What are you most proud of in your life?” and “Can you give me four or five words to describe your personality when you were 25 years old?” These questions serve to give me final clues about your habit of attention and your core motivations.
This closes the first half of the interview where you, the interviewee, has done most of the talking. This usually takes between 45-60 minutes.
For many people, this is the first time they have described to someone else what they think about and just this part of the interview alone can be an exercise in self-development.
- Elimination process: For the second half of the interview, I take the lead. We begin with an elimination process where I start with the types I am guessing you are not. I briefly describe the Enneagram type and then explain what I heard or observed that makes me guess you do not have this habit of attention. We discuss my impressions, and each type goes into a “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe” category.
We narrow this down as far as we can, sometimes landing on one type or sometimes narrowing it down to two or even three types.
- Closing: In the last part of the interview, I focus on the Enneagram type (or types) that we think you might be in greater detail. I describe the subtypes, the arrows, and so forth. You get to see the many aspects of the type or types that align with your answers. This is where you decide what resonates, and my goal is to “introduce you to yourself.”
What about online tests? People often ask what I think of online tests and how they compare with a live typing interview. I think online tests can be useful data points, but I don’t consider them conclusive.
Most of the test questions in online tests focus on behavior, but the Enneagram is really about motivation. Taking a test can be interesting, but I encourage people to “keep a light touch” on the results. The test conclusion may be wrong.
For example, I just took an excellent subtype test developed by a leading teacher. It got me exactly wrong, indicating that my dominant instinct is self-preservation when in fact self-preservation is my repressed instinct. I’m very clear about my type and instinct but if I wasn’t, this would have confused me. An online test can give you clues, but it may give you the wrong conclusion.
I prefer typing interviews because they give you a chance to discuss the results with a trained professional. Many people come to me after they’ve taken an online test but weren’t convinced of the results or because they had taken several tests and gotten different results. The Enneagram is a complex system, and it is hard to capture all the nuances in an automated way.
Enneagram typing interviews are also available via gift certificate–these make wonderful holidays gifts. Message me for more information or to schedule your own session.