ISTJs are great people. Under their reserved exterior, lie very strong convictions and a powerful work ethic. In the Keirsey system, they are called Inspectors and this name suits them well for several reasons.

Quiet seriousness

Inspectors usually exhibit a very classic and neat appearance. Every outfit is well suited for each occasion but not over the top. They are rather quiet individuals who don’t like to attract attention to themselves and often look absorbed and serious, and serious, they are indeed.

A great sense of practicalities

If you want something to get done well and on time, you best put an ISTJ on the case. Inspectors are very practical and have an amazing knack for remembering details missed by others. Along with other people sharing the SJ letters in their type, Inspectors share what Keirsey calls a logistical intelligence : they know how to get what is needed, where it is needed, when it is needed. In the process, they will make sure that quality is maintained and that everyone stays in line with the procedures.

Honouring their commitments

Due to their strong sense of duty, Inspectors work very hard to keep their word. They are also very committed to the groups they belong to and treasure the traditions of these groups. They remember anniversaries and birthdays and stay in touch with loved ones.

The flip side of the coin

Our strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin and very much depend on circumstances. What is a strength in a certain situation becomes a weakness in another one. Inspectors need to be aware that some of their strong points can sometimes disserve them:
- their willingness to stick to schedules and procedures in normal times is a great asset for an organisation. If on the hand, novel action is needed, this behaviour can become a lack of flexibility
- their reverence for tradition can result in them discouraging much needed innovation.
- their need to honour their commitments means that they rarely say no to additional responsibilities which causes them to become easily stressed and overworked. It is worth noting that their co-workers will generally hardly notice this because Inspectors are so quiet and don’t like to make a fuss


Type psychologists have always tried to predict which personality would get on better with which one. I would however be very cautious about this, especially for romantic relationships. When it comes to such personal matters, you should be careful about who you entrust your heart to.

David Keirsey says for example that ISTJ Inspectors would be “most compatible” with ESFP Performers. The idea is that the Inspector would be giving the Performer a solid home whilst enjoying the spark of the Performer’s spontaneity.

However, bear in mind that the success of a relationship cannot be predicted on type alone.

Studies and career

For young people interested in choosing a career or working adults interested in changing theirs, I strongly recommend that you acquire a great book by Paul Tieger and Barbara Baron: Do What You Are . This book explores, for each of the 16 types, the kind of profession that should allow you to make the best use of your strengths and suit your personality better. Here is for example a very short list of professions that the authors advise for ISTJs:
- Auditors
- Efficiency expert/analyst
- Real estate appraiser
- Chief Information Officer
- Fire prevention and protection specialists
- Credit analyst
- School principal
- Construction Manager
- Technical writer
- Database administrator

A word of caution: there is no guarantee that a particular career path will suit you even if it is recommended for your type. Indeed, your type is not enough to predict your success. You also need to take into account your own abilities, personal interests, dedication to your goal, professional environment, state of the economy...

So no guarantee but a good place to start looking!

Self esteem

Liking who you are is of prime importance, and yes, knowing your type can even help with this! Here is another great book that people should get: Portraits of Self Esteem by Bonnie J. Golden. She explains that self esteem is a combination of self-worth and competence in the life areas of intelligence, relationships, physical self, emotional self and work.

In a nutshell, the more competent you are in all these areas, the more likely you are to feel good about yourself even if something bad happens in one of them.

About ISTJs, she mentions the fact that they feel particularly good about themselves when:
- They know what is expected from them at work
- They are living up to their full potential
- Their superiors are pleased with them
- They receive an award
- Things go according to plan

Return from ISTJ to Myers Briggs Personality Types

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