The Engineer

Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Perceiving

The INTP personality type is intellectually curious and enjoys the more complex and theoretical problems, often for their own sake. Practical application has little interest for them, preferring to identify the solutions and then leave someone else to plan the work. They do however like things done properly and have very high standards. The routine, the detail bores them rigid and they will put off completing tasks, especially those that they see as unnecessary, preferring to 'blitz' them nearer the deadline. For the INTP follow-through does not come naturally, and completion will be via huge bursts of energy at the last minute but it will be done.

INTP Characteristics

intp Personality Type

INTPs are extremely independent, of thought and action, and will value trait that in others. They can play the team game, but then prefer to go and get on with it, working in sporadic bursts of energy. Although quite deep and private, the INTP can at times seem totally outspoken because of their directness of communication and economy of words. The INTP is blunt, to the point and would not be easily side-tracked. Other people may assume that the INTP says very little, but this is only when there is nothing to say. General chitchat or conversations with no purpose will bore them so they prefer to speak only about areas that interest them, things they consider important. There is an expedient side to the INTP character, and this means they will focus on their own interests and will immerse themselves in such activities. Their boredom threshold is low and once the activity becomes mundane, maintenance or about follow-through, the INTP will once again disappear into their own world of ideas, possibilities and the complex.

The INTP is intellectually curious and enjoys the more complex and theoretical problems, often for their own sake. Practical application has little interest for the INTP, who prefers identifying the solutions and then leave someone else to plan the work.

They do however dislike sloppy work or sloppy thinking or illogical arguments or poor enunciation. They are flexible, do not like to be fenced in but have very high standards. INTPs are cynical individuals, (they prefer to call themselves ‘realists!’), intensely logical, analytical and detached, they believe solely in the power of logic, finding it difficult to express or even to ‘do’ emotions. Rarely intimidated the INTP will work through even the most apparently momentous problems with the same logical demeanour and furrowed brow that they would display when doing Sudoku. Any problem is simply a problem and it will have a logical answer. Try and flatter an INTP and they will become very suspicious. Give an INTP a compliment and they’ll think, ‘what’s s/he after!’ They are very good at evaluating, seeing the flaws in any argument or the downside in any situation and their cup is always half empty, never half full.

INTPs are thoughtful, analytical characters. They may disappear so deeply into thought as to seem detached, and often actually are oblivious to the world around them, and the people in it. Precise, formal and proper, INTPs will often correct others should any shade of meaning be even slightly ambiguous. They may not want to do ‘it,’ but if it must be done then it should, indeed must, be done properly, according to agreed protocols, the INTP protocols.

The INTP is so independent of thought and in vehemently arguing a point they may very well be trying to convince themselves as much as the opposition. Getting to the heart of 'the truth' is extremely important to the INTP but will be as far as they will probably want to take it. Knowing ‘the truth,’ knowing they can back it up with logic is enough for them and they do not feel any need to prove it or to go further and demonstrate it to other people, indeed that would not be the INTP way.

Knowing they are right is all the INTP needs and then they can turn their thoughts privately to other logical, and interesting, activities. One INTP friend will only have lunch if it means sitting down with a ‘proper’ knife and fork, with ‘proper’ being the key word for him, obsessed with the ‘right’ ways of doing things and ‘right’ can be defined as what the INTP has concluded after much logical deliberation.

INTP Careers

Linking ‘type’ and ‘careers’ would be easy if it was just about listing specific jobs that perfectly fit specific personalities. However in truth it is more difficult than that as ignores other, more important issues, such as the organisation, the values and the culture, which are far better determinants of suitability than a job title. Also individual jobs vary widely from industry to industry, organisation to organisation and person to person. Therefore our focus on ‘type’ and ‘careers’ will be far more on you: your personality, your aptitudes, interests, likes, strengths and weaknesses and then matching these to the sorts of environments, cultures and norms within organisations that will allow you, given your character, to thrive grow and flourish. We spend a lot of our time at work and so it is important to get these issues right or we could spend a lot of working time unhappy, unproductive and unfulfilled.

Difficult challenges and devising new ways of doing things stimulate the INTP and they will work tirelessly in such an environment to get things done.

INTP Strengths

INTPs have extremely high standards of competence, they like things done correctly. They can quickly assimilate and make sense of even the most complex data and make decisions based on logic and empirical data. The INTP has excellent long-range vision and can see things that others don’t and come up with solutions that are genuinely innovative. They are happy in their own company and can work for hours alone, quietly and need very little in the way of people interaction. They tend to work in short burst of energy, then withdraw, thinking deeply about things and needing very little in the way of external stimulus. This means the INTP is superb at plate spinning, multi-tasking and remaining calm when the going gets tough. Very little will faze the INTP, unless an agreed rule is broken and then they can become very animated and uncharacteristically vocal. The mundane and detail tends to bore them and they perform such tasks in a flurry, getting it done so they can contemplate and work on more complex issues at which they will excel at finding the easiest route through complexity. Difficult challenges and devising new ways of doing things stimulate the INTP and they will work tirelessly in such an environment to get things done and they will require very little in the way of motivation or stroking.

INTP Weaknesses

INTPs are private individuals who rarely let even close friends or family into the inner sanctum, which contributes to their slightly detached persona. This trait also means that they are not natural communicators as they inhabit quite a complex world of ideas and possibilities so that providing a simple rationale or ‘quick and dirty’ explanation is not easy for the INTP. In input terms the INTP will grasp, synthesise and process information very quickly but may get quickly bored once the activity becomes workaday as their energies are driven by the complex and, once the issue, problem or project is sorted/solved they will withdraw looking for the next ‘big’ issue preferring others to carry the issue forward to workable solutions. They can therefore show frustration with those who are not quite on the same page. INTPs also do not like structures or and prefer to work in their own way at their own pace which is sporadic, full on then full off. INTPs are blunt and to the point and speak with the same economy with which they work and so ask for an opinion then it will be honest, to the point and often bone-jarringly direct which may cause some debris. This is never done with any other intention of telling the truth in the most economic way possible. INTPs may struggle with small talk or indeed any talk that does not stimulate their interest.

INTP Best Work Environments

INTPs value independence, of thought and action and therefore tend not to fit into typical organisational structures. They need their space: to think and to be free from other people. They don’t like facts or figures preferring the broad-brush stroke approach and too much detail can cause them to withdraw. Go to an INTP with too much detail or without thinking through the issues and you may get a very short answer. The simple, the obvious the concrete bores them rigid and anything they see as trivial or unimportant will be pushed away which can make them appear slightly arrogant by those who like the detail. So organisations that allow and value independence, where the INTP can work in their way, to create ideas and come up with different ways to solving problems is one where they can thrive. They like to continuously improve, their work, themselves and so prefer intellectually stimulating projects (and people) and environments where they can immerse themselves and not follow rules and protocols that they see as adding no value and which hold them back.

INTP Worst Work Environments

INTPs do not like to be constrained, preferring the freedom to work in their way and so environments which value predictability, tradition and set rules would not be for them. Work requires some meaning to the INTP and this for them means something that interests them that stretches them and allows them to think deeply. Noisy, people-centric organisations that are emotional and require lots of interaction will sap their energy. INTPs also require intellectual stimulus and the opportunity to stretch and grow and so more mundane environments where the emphasis is on production with no opportunity for creation would not bring out the best in them. Being micromanaged or having set tasks and deadlines would not work for the INTP, as they need the freedom to think deeply and then to work in sporadic short bursts of energy. They need challenge and the opportunity to bring their brains to bear on complex problems rather than ploughing through detail or the obvious. Environments which set great store by everyone doing what they are told and management by rote would not suit the INTP.

INTP Best Careers

As INTPs value both freedom from constraints and intellectual pursuits and also they do not really understand or have any time for emotional issues and so they tend excel to in scientific or consulting roles where they can be valued for their intelligence and contribution. We often find INTPs in engineering roles, especially those that require innovation and solving complex problems, and where the outputs are based on logic and empirical data, with no woolliness or ambiguity, with in an environment that values extremely high standards of competence.

The INTP is superb at analysing problems and evaluating ideas and suggestions so the team is better placed to make balanced decisions.


intp Personality Type

In a work setting the INTP will use their love and store of knowledge to bring a clear explanation of how and why things happen, using empirical data and evidence, hypotheses and rational thinking. The INTP may not be the most vocal, but when the discussions enter the arena that holds their interest, they will become quite outspoken and very clear thinking. The INTP will be the one who points out the downside, the one who protects the team from self-deception, and the one who can see the follies of ideas quickly and focus the group on a new direction. The INTP is a great critic, and will be blunt in the assessment. Typical pessimists a major concern for the INTP is the scary sense of potential failure and so they are excellent at seeing the potential pitfalls in any plan.

The INTP personality type is superb at analysing problems and evaluating ideas and suggestions so the team is better placed to make balanced decisions, given their serious, unemotional and prudent nature. They have great judgement, discretion and hard headedness. They also see, and are happy to point out, the downside and so protect the team from omissions, errors and heading off in the wrong direction.

High critical thinking ability and a capacity for shrewd judgements that take all factors into account means the INTP is seldom wrong. They are best suited to analysing problems and evaluating ideas and suggestions and weighing up the pro’s and con’s of options. Others may see the INTP as a little dry and over-critical but the INTPs capacity for seeing the flaws can be invaluable to the team.

INTPs need those around them to be proactive and not keep coming to them with questions. They like arguments and actions to be well thought through and will excel at ensuring this is the case.

INTP Relationships

INTPs are deep, private and independent, rarely forthcoming, especially emotionally as they don’t really ‘get’ emotions as they are just so logical, and emotions don’t really compute. Getting close to an INTP would take a little time, as although they’re friendly enough, they are quite formal and too much people time, especially if that is small talk or chitchat, would irritate them and they will withdraw. INTPs also love immersing themselves in complex problems, thinking things fully through and coming up with innovative solutions and so in those times, they will rarely surface and may even get annoyed if anyone, as they would see it, ‘intrudes’ on their space and they will close it down. So, this makes INTPs difficult to know, especially initially, as they will relate in sporadic bursts. They certainly won’t relate at a more emotional level and will value rational argument and evidence and dismiss feelings as a bit woolly.

INTPs tend to be full on or full off in that if they’re interested in something they will engage and actually become talkative and animated, often surprising those who have had experienced their minimalistic approach. Debate and discussion, on topics that are of interest will stimulate them, but if it’s more tedious issues they’ll withdraw. They are quite formal and, although they will break rules, that will be other peoples’ rules and they will have a deep set of personal values which if crossed would bring out a very sharp response. They are blunt to the point of being bone-jarringly direct but this is not for its own sake but because they prefer, and demand, absolute clarity and if you ask their opinion, you’ll get it, raw and unvarnished, in the most ‘economic’ way possible, short and to the point.

INTPs like to think things through and chew them over, so if you demand an immediate answer it may well be “no!” They love complexity and seeing patterns in things and will come up with some genuinely ground-breaking innovations. But it all needs to be thought-through and that takes time, and quiet private time at that so any noise or distractions or chatter would interfere with that process would be dealt with, swiftly. They have immense powers of concentration if they are interested in something. Once they have arrived at a decision it will usually be the right one as a great deal of thought will have gone into it. Those less close to the INTP may well see a decision as a snap decision as they won’t have experienced all the effort that has gone into it. It’s like when we learn Math at school and we get the answer right, but the teacher wants to see how we got there, all the workings out, and that’s what you won’t get with the deep thinking, private INTP, but boy when they decide, they decide and get on with it.

INTPs quite like a bit of conflict, not for its own sake but because it clears the air more quickly and means they can get on again, but in private. The idea of endless conversation or skirting round an issue would incense the INTP who doesn’t have time for, as they’d see it, “such niceties,” get it said in the fastest time frame possible and get on. So, is an INTP overly blunt, well, yes, but not to harm anyone or to cause upset, though they wouldn’t really mind if they did as they don’t tune into feelings, that would be a bit of an alien concept to the INTP, it is more about keeping chat to a minimum and not getting distracted. INTPs are also a little sceptical, some say cynical, and too much chat or hanging around would make them think: “what are they after?”

How do INTP's compare to other types?

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