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28/11/2018 Why understanding personality styles can be key to recruiting the right people

You’re thinking of recruiting. What’s most important in your ideal candidate? Skills, qualifications, experience? No doubt, you’ll be looking for a mix of all three and of course, it’s vital to hire someone who can actually do the job but there’s another crucial factor and that’s their personality. You want someone who is going to fit in with your culture and gel with the rest of the team, which is why you shouldn’t recruit on skills alone. After all, you can teach new skills - you can’t train someone in personality.

What’s wrong with just hiring for skills?

There’s an old saying ‘hire on aptitude, fire on attitude’. If you don’t take time to assess someone’s personality and how they’ll react in certain situations, you could easily end up with someone with the right skills but the wrong mindset for your business. They might not necessarily have a bad attitude - they could just turn out to be a ‘square peg in a round hole’. Skills on their own won’t be enough to ensure high performance. Remember, you’re recruiting a whole individual. People aren’t cogs in a machine - they all have their own characters.

What’s wrong with the interview process?

An interview can undoubtedly give you valuable clues about a candidate’s personality. You can make sure you ask probing behavioural questions as well as skills and competency based questions. However, there is great potential for false positives and negatives in the artificial context of an interview, given that some candidates will talk a better game than they can play, while others won’t give the best picture of themselves due to nerves.

What’s the alternative?

Hiring on gut instinct can be just as perilous as looking at qualifications on a C.V. Instead of relying on your intuition, though, you can take advantage of scientifically valid selection tools. Many forward-thinking employers are turning to psychology-backed assessments to uncover candidates’ true personality types and traits. The main characteristics that are tested, known as the Big 5, are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion-introversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

One example of this type of psychometric test is Belbin’s team role theory. His research in the 1960s and 70s showed that the best teams had people playing different roles, such as the gregarious ‘chairman’, the impartial ‘monitor-evaluator’ and the lateral-thinking loner ‘plant’ etc. Gaining a greater understanding of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses will help you put stronger teams together.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) is another type. The essence of this theory is that behaviour can be explained due to the different ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment. Some will prefer to focus on the outer world while others will prefer their own inner world. Some will focus on basic information while others will want to add or interpret meaning. When making decisions, some will look to logic and consistency while others will look at people and circumstances. When dealing with the outside world, some will prefer to get things decided while others will stay open to new information and options.

By getting your candidates to complete one of these tests, you’ll get a good idea of their main characteristics and what sort of environments they’ll do best in. Being equipped with this information will not only help you to recruit the right people but also increase the likelihood of them fitting in, staying and performing to a high level.

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