Understanding the 4 Personality Types: A, B, C, and D

Each person is a unique combination of four personality types. Over the centuries, these basic categories have gone by several names and designations, but for our purposes, they are known as the director, the socializer, the thinker, and the supporter. As shorthand, though, we refer to those personality types as A, B, C, and D, respectively. Learning how to identify people by personality type can bring a higher level of understanding to interpersonal relationships and team building, especially for employers looking for ways to improve employee hiring and reduce turnover. Indeed, a good personality test may be the most valuable tool in a hiring manager’s toolbox.

Understanding the 4 personality types

What is a Type A personality?

Type A personality

A Type A personality likes to be in charge and be in control of their environment and their lives. They’re normally not very detail-oriented, choosing to delegate details to others. They’re usually very goal-oriented and practical in their solutions. And arriving at their solutions and goals will entail a no-nonsense, bottom-line approach.

What are other names for the Type A personality?

Personality Tests & Approaches Type A Personality Name
The Hire Success® System Director
Hippocrates Choleric (bodily humor: yellow bile)
Plato Guardian
Jung Sensor
DISC D; Direct/Controlling
Insight Blue
Enneagram Adventurer/Achiever
PSI Controller
Biblical character Paul
Cartoon/comic characters Lucy (from Peanuts) / Rabbit (from Winnie the Pooh)

What are Type A personality strengths?

  • Embraces change
  • Take-charge
  • Fast-paced
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Direct management style
  • Ambitious
  • Works well independently
  • Passionate
  • Demands maximum freedom
  • Dominant
  • Good administrative skills
  • Highly competitive
  • Good delegation skills
  • Multitasking

What are Type A personality weaknesses?

  • Stubborn
  • Workaholic
  • Impatient
  • Abrupt
  • Tough
  • Easily angered
  • Insensitive
  • Ill-tempered (short fuse)
  • Intolerant
  • Domineering

What motivates a Type A personality?

  • Money
  • Opportunity
  • Freedom/independence
  • Favorable risk-reward ratio
  • Challenges
  • Urgency
  • Success
  • Leadership

What are some common words or phrases that motivate or grab the attention of the Type A personality?

  • “Let’s get it done.”
  • Fast
  • Results
  • Immediate/today/now
  • The bottom line
  • “What do you think about ___?”
  • “The best (newest, cutting-edge, etc.)”
  • Take the challenge
  • Great return on investment

What are the turnoffs, dislikes, and fears of the Type A personality?

  • Touchy-feely things
  • Long explanations or descriptions
  • Explaining things in emotional terms or more than once to the same person
  • Looking soft or vulnerable
  • Falling into routines
  • Being taken advantage of
  • Losing

Which jobs attract a Type A personality?

  • President/CEO
  • General contractor
  • Salesperson or sales manager
  • Business owner
  • Politician
  • Entrepreneur
  • Police/military officer
  • Manager
  • Executive

What do Type A personality traits look like at work?

People with Type A personalities can typically be identified by the following traits:

  • Goal-oriented
  • Risk-taking
  • Good under stress

Type A personalities don't like a lot of restraints or restrictions placed on them. Instead, they prefer to work independently and set their own schedules. Since they often tend to be workaholics, it’s not unusual to see them put in whatever time and effort it takes to accomplish their goals. They may seem impatient at times, especially if they believe someone is spending too much time going over details with them or impeding the successful completion of whatever goal or project they’re focusing on at the moment.

Don't be surprised to see this personality type in a supervisory position or management. Having an entrepreneurial streak, they may be a business owner or strive to own their own business someday. The Type A personality is not easily discouraged and will normally exude confidence.

If a Type A personality sees their day-to-day job as routine or repetitive, they’ll get bored easily and won’t enjoy the work. They’ll want others to view them as tough in these situations, but internally they may be miserable if the job is too routine. In keeping with their dominant traits, Type A personalities will do whatever is necessary to prevent themselves from falling into patterns or routines and seek freedom and independence instead. They’ll also be very dissatisfied if they believe someone is trying to take advantage of them or hold them back.

A Type A personality may not be very good at recognizing coworker's feelings and needs. It’s not necessarily because they don't care; rather, they’re extremely focused on achieving their goals and may not notice. If you're looking for someone who works well under pressure and seems to excel in high-stress situations, the Type A personality is probably what you're looking for.

What is a Type B personality?

Type B personality

The Type B personality is a very outgoing, energetic, and fast-paced individual who likes to be around people and enjoys being the center of attention. They’re good relationship builders, and most people like them right away. Their driving need is for approval, so they try to like everyone in hopes everyone will like them too. Compliments, acknowledgement of their achievements, words of admiration, and even applause from groups will be the most important thing you can do for them.

What are other names for the Type B personality?

Personality Tests & Approaches Type B Personality Name
Hire Success® System Socializer
Hippocrates Sanguine (bodily humor: blood)
Plato Artisan
Jung Intuitor
DISC I; direct/supporting
Insight Green
Enneagram Helper/romantic
PSI Promoter
Biblical character Peter
Cartoon/comic characters Snoopy (from Peanuts) / Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh)

What are Type B personality strengths?

  • Enthusiasm
  • Fun-loving
  • Persuasiveness
  • Easily liked by most people
  • Friendliness
  • Charismatic
  • Idea person
  • motivator
  • Dreamer
  • Lighthearted
  • People-oriented
  • Spontaneous
  • Faster-paced
  • Self-confident

What are Type B personality weaknesses?

  • Too self-involved
  • May try to do too much at once
  • Impatient
  • Sometimes unrealistic
  • Trouble being alone
  • Doesn’t finish what was started
  • Short attention span
  • Arrogant or cocky
  • Easily bored
  • Self-indulgent
  • Prone to sweeping generalizations
  • Impulsive
  • Procrastination
  • Whimsical

What motivates a Type B personality?

  • Public recognition
  • Awards, plaques, certificates
  • Having picture taken with celebrities
  • Succeeding, especially beyond peers
  • Being the center of attention, public speaker, director, etc.
  • Acceptance
  • The latest styles and/or trends

What are some common words or phrases that motivate or grab the attention of the Type B personality?

  • “You look great.”
  • “You’re the best ____.”
  • “People love you.”
  • “This will be fun.”
  • Entertaining

What are the turnoffs, dislikes, and fears of the Type B personality?

  • Public humiliation
  • Being unappreciated
  • Appearing uninvolved
  • Nonsocial types
  • Appearing unattractive
  • People and things that distract attention
  • Appearing unsuccessful
  • Appearing unacceptable

Which jobs attract a Type B personality?

  • Public relations
  • Salesperson
  • Entertainment
  • Personnel interviewer
  • Professional host(ess)
  • Politician
  • Recreation director
  • Party planner
  • Customer service/relations

What do Type B personality traits look like at work?

People with Type B personalities can typically be identified by the following traits:

  • Relationship-oriented
  • Outgoing
  • Enthusiastic

Type B personalities love to talk about themselves. Some may view that as self-centered, but a Type B’s real motivation is to be liked. For an extreme (and funny) example, think of the character played by Bette Midler in the movie Beaches, when she invited an old friend up to see her lavish apartment and told her about her great success. Then she said to the friend: "Enough about me. Let's talk about you. So, what do you think of me?"

The Type B personality’s biggest fear is being humiliated in public, since that might make many people disapprove of them, and the thought of that would be devastating. The B personality doesn't want to appear unattractive or unsuccessful either, so they’ll make sure their appearance is impeccable and will always give the impression of being very successful at whatever they do, whether they are or not.

Some of the strengths you can count on from the Type B personality are their enthusiasm, outgoing behavior, friendliness toward others, and their ability to persuade even the most skeptical of people. They tend to be dreamers and can often turn those dreams into very practical ideas in the workplace. Type B personalities are normally spontaneous and use their quick wit and humor to make people like them. They aren't very good about hiding their own feelings either, so if they’re hurt or disappointed, you'll probably be able to read it in their mannerisms and overall disposition.

Some of the natural weaknesses that are associated with the Type B personality include being impatient, having a relatively short attention span, and not being very detail-oriented. In business, Type B personalities may tend to oversocialize and not spend as much time doing their work because they strive for the social interaction. During the hiring process, they may be inclined toward unstructured, rambling interviews rather than structured ones, and bad interviews can lead to bad hires. Despite their natural tendency, many Type B personalities have learned to keep their counterproductive impulses in check while benefiting from the positives of having a social nature.

What is a Type C personality?

Type C personality

The Type C personality is a very detail-oriented individual who likes to be involved in things that are controlled and stable. They’re interested in accuracy, rationality, and logic. People who can't seem to control their emotions will bother them because Type C personalities believe being emotional makes objectivity difficult or perhaps impossible. They also dislike being around people who are full of hype, since they desire facts, accuracy, and logic. Other people's emotions may not be a priority for them, as they tend to strive for the facts and let the chips fall where they may.

What are other names for the Type C personality?

Personality Tests & Approaches Type C Personality Name
Hire Success® System Thinker
Hippocrates Melancholic (bodily humor: black bile)
Plato Scientist
Jung Thinker
DISC C; indirect/controlling
Insight Gold
Enneagram Asserter/perfectionist
PSI Analyst
Biblical character Moses
Cartoon/comic characters Linus (from Peanuts) / Eeyore (from Winnie the Pooh)

What are Type C personality strengths?

  • Accuracy
  • Creative
  • Dependable
  • Imaginative
  • Independent
  • Detailed
  • Follow-through
  • Plays by the rules
  • Organized
  • Intelligent
  • Analytical
  • Critical thinker
  • Quality control
  • Thoughtful

What are Type C personality weaknesses?

  • Worry about progress
  • Can appear unsocial
  • Critical behavior
  • Likes to do things their own way
  • Detached behavior
  • Can see the glass half empty
  • Skeptical, disbelieving
  • May never have personal expectations met
  • Disengagement

What motivates a Type C personality?

  • Control
  • Opportunities to be independent and analytical
  • Challenges
  • Problem-solving

What are some common words or phrases that motivate or grab the attention of the Type C personality?

  • Perfection
  • “How does that work?”
  • Quiet, solitude
  • “Tell me more about ____.”

What are the turnoffs, dislikes, and fears of the Type C personality?

  • Uncontrolled emotions
  • Irrational acts
  • Indecision
  • People who are self-centered, or self-aggrandizement
  • Loss of control
  • Being subject to control or supervision by people they don’t trust or respect
  • Distractions or distracting people

Which jobs attract a Type C personality?

  • Forecaster
  • Troubleshooter
  • Critic
  • Investigator (police, crime scene, private, etc.)
  • Engineer
  • Technical support
  • Research scientist
  • Game designer
  • Data analyst
  • Pilot
  • Programmer/analyst
  • Artist
  • Actuary
  • Musician
  • Accountant/auditor
  • Inventor

What do Type C personality traits look like at work?

People with Type C personalities can typically be identified by the following traits:

  • Detail-oriented
  • Logical
  • Prepared

Type C personalities tend to be quite controlling, both of themselves and others. They don't like things to get out of hand and may not appear very expressive at times because they don't really want themselves to display a lot of emotion. They’re very outcome-driven and will be sticklers for following procedures and protocol in getting the job done.

They’re careful, resourceful, and, above all, excellent thinkers who will look at all aspects of an issue before taking a stand. Once they take a stand on an issue, though, they’ll have the facts to back it up, so anyone who challenges them better be prepared. If you have a Type C personality on your job candidate shortlist, you’ll want to prepare some thoughtful interview questions if you don’t want a carefully rehearsed response.

They like their jobs to be clearly defined and want to know exactly what’s expected of them. Knowing those facts, they will be able to prioritize their tasks and see them through to completion.

When in decision-making roles, they’re cautious and logical, requiring many details and facts before they make a decision. People who try to sell them something by trying to get them emotionally involved usually fail; the Type C personality would consider such an effort to be hype and would wonder what facts the other person is trying to hide.

In more public roles, the Type C personality will strive for originality, cleverness, and uniqueness in all things. Because of their detail orientation, they’re meticulously prepared to defend their decisions against any possible objections. Many accountants and lawyers, for example, are Type C personalities. They’re excellent for any job that requires creative thinking based on patience, facts, and accuracy.

What is a Type D personality?

Type D personality

A Type D personality takes a slower, easier pace toward their work and life in general. They seek security and longevity on the job and are very happy doing a repetitive task, day in and day out. The repetition allows them to become very skilled in what they do. Likewise, they won't like it if the rules change a lot, as that’s contrary to their desire to minimize change and stick with what they know works. For the Type D personality, even though the current way may be unpleasant, they worry that the unknown may be even worse.

What are other names for the Type D personality?

Personality Tests & Approaches Type D Personality Name
Hire Success® System Supporter
Hippocrates Phlegmatic (bodily humor: phlegm)
Plato Philosopher
Jung Feeler
DISC S; indirect/supporting
Insight Orange
Enneagram Peacemaker/observer
PSI Supporter
Biblical character Abraham
Cartoon/comic characters Charlie Brown (from Peanuts) / Winnie the Pooh

What are Type D personality strengths?

  • Low-key
  • Caring
  • Sincere
  • Compassionate
  • Stable
  • Fair and equitable
  • Calm
  • Unimposing
  • Looks approachable
  • Dependable
  • Appearance of strength
  • Trusting
  • Minimal mood swings
  • Self-confident
  • Reliable
  • Consistent
  • Observant
  • Good at routines or repetitive tasks

What are Type D personality weaknesses?

  • Not speaking up
  • Easily used by others
  • Going along when they don’t agree
  • Uncomfortable with constant change
  • Going along to avoid confrontation
  • Less assertive
  • Gets hurt feelings
  • Shy
  • Resistant to change

What motivates a Type D personality?

  • Stability
  • Benefits
  • Security
  • Low risk
  • Routine
  • Team/group opportunities
  • Calm work atmosphere

What are some common words or phrases that motivate or grab the attention of the Type D personality?

  • “Help others in need.”
  • Relaxed atmosphere
  • Logical
  • Rational

What are the turnoffs, dislikes, and fears of the Type D personality?

  • Risks
  • Pushy people
  • Change (especially frequent change)
  • Instability
  • Disorganization
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Disruption in routine
  • Surprises
  • The unknown
  • Conflict

Which jobs attract a Type D personality?

  • Secure team position
  • Administrator
  • Financial services
  • HR manager
  • Social worker
  • Bureaucrat
  • Family doctor/nurse
  • Assembly line worker
  • Residential/community services
  • Mechanic
  • Teacher
  • Counselor
  • Personal assistant/secretary
  • Minister
  • Insurance agent
  • Supervisor
  • Librarian
  • Security guard
  • Customer service representative

What do Type D personality traits look like at work?

People with Type D personalities can typically be identified by the following traits:

  • Task-oriented
  • Stabilizing
  • Cautious

They seek the respect, sincere admiration, and acceptance of others. The Type D personality will gladly work hard to please the people they work for as long as they feel appreciated and receive plenty of reassurance that they’re needed. They need that sense of security. Type D personalities often think the Type A personality is crazy for taking so many risks and not showing much concern for security and longevity.

Type D personalities are usually very organized; being around a messy environment or disorganization will bother them. They’re also good at playing a very supportive role with others and are normally very caring, thoughtful, and compassionate. They are patient, tend to be good listeners, and will persevere when all others have given up. They especially like working in a group or on a team and will be a stabilizing force in these scenarios.

Although they may not be as fast as others, they’re accurate and thorough. They’ll usually keep their feelings to themselves and are reluctant to express themselves, even if a more assertive type seems to be taking advantage of them. They tend to go along to get along.

To attract the Type D personality in a job ad, be sure to talk about the company benefits package and the long-term growth potential within the company. Having a secure, stable environment will be very important to the Type D personality.

What is a Type X personality?

Type X personality

Whenever two or more personality types are equal in strength within a person, that person is considered a Type X personality. For example, if an individual's two highest-strength personality types were A and B, they might be identified as AX and BX. In the extremely rare event that all four personality types were identical, that person would be considered simply as a Type X personality.

Type X personality traits

The X indicates a cross, or an intersection, of two or more types. It’s not unusual to see the X between two of the four personality types, and it doesn’t necessarily have to include the primary (or strongest) personality. However, when it does include the primary personality, the individual in question may have a tendency to be like one type in one situation and the other type in another. And when all four types are very close in strength, the individual may seem like a chameleon of personalities.

This can be beneficial for many jobs, especially when it’s important that the person gets along with almost everybody, such as consultative sales people for example. The Type X personality tends to change personality "colors" as needed based on who they may be with. Although somewhat unpredictable at times, this rare combination could be an important asset if utilized fully.

How to use the 4 basic personality types: A, B, C, and D

The descriptions above are the same, or similar, to what you will see printed on the Hire Success® Overview Report. Each applicant is instructed to respond to the Hire Success® Personality Profile form based on how they are at work, and the results will indicate which of the four personality types they draw from most, and to what degree. The system automatically provides a description of the primary personality at the beginning of the Overview Report. Variations of the above will be printed if the test taker is a combination of more than one personality type, or a Type X. You can compare the results against the baseline you developed to help speed up your hiring process.

In the Summary Report, a bar chart is provided along with a percentage, or strength, of each of the four personality types. The higher the percentage, the more dominant that personality type. When two or more personality types are close, or the same, in strength, the applicant may be characteristic of both types equally.

These Type A, B, C, and D personality descriptions are classic descriptions designed to provide you with some background information about a particular personality. The Hire Success® system uses these descriptions for contrast to the specific descriptions and values found in the traits section of the report. In many cases, the applicant's individual traits may differ, at least to some degree, from what you may see described in the overall personality description.

The Hire Success® system determines traits independently of the personality calculation and doesn’t base trait information on what might be expected from a particular personality type. The inclusion of these expanded traits is one of the ways the Hire Success® system differs from other systems, like Myers-Briggs®, and opens the door to highlight those differences that make the applicant a unique individual — not one squeezed into one of four boxes. If and when you see a trait differ from what might be described in the personality overview, it’s not a mistake. Quite the contrary, it’s most likely the true trait you can expect to see from the applicant on a day-to-day basis and not just an expectation based on a traditional Type A, B, C, or D personality description.