The Cult of Personality: Part 1 – Should we pay more attention to Applicants’ Character Traits?

Posted On: February 3rd, 2016 By Helen Main No Comments »


When you begin the process of filtering through applicants’ CVs, chances are you use key experiences or qualifications as your preliminary filters.
You probably leave examination of an applicants’ personality until you’re at the interview process, which makes sense – it’s hard to establish someone’s character from a few paragraphs on a screen, and there’s much debate about the accuracy and relevance of personality tests (more on that later).
While the interview itself is a great place to assess an applicants’ personality, it is often still pushed to the side in favour of asking questions that re-examine the information that is already known. This means skill sets and experience are still prioritised over personality, and  hiring based on skill set alone leaves you open to the risk of mis-hiring for your business.

So without further ado, here are three key reasons why increasing the emphasis on the importance of personality could help improve your hiring practice.

Your Team’s Personalities need to Complement Each Other

When it comes to any teamwork, personality becomes doubly important. A team made up of experienced people who clash or cannot work with each other will never do as well as a team of less experienced people who support and challenge each other effectively! A team with personalities that gel well will be more productive and positive than a team that clashes, and while no office can be entirely free of disagreements, it’s important to have a team that can coexist comfortably. Obviously it is impossible to assess from a single interview whether someone will fit with your team, but personality tests, or group interviews can help measure the fit of your candidates. You can even get the ball rolling early on in the selection process by requesting a brief video introduction from your candidates.

Skill Sets can be Taught

These days, there is little that is done in business that can’t be trained on the job, with the right employee. But no matter how up to date your new employees skills are, or how much experience he has in similar roles, if he doesn’t mesh well with the team he will never be an asset to the company. Sales roles don’t require people who have indepth knowledge of sales approaches and 15 years experience, if they don’t have a passion or enthusiasm for the job! It is better to hire someone with minimum experience and maximum interest in honing their skills for the role, than it is to hire someone who thinks they’ve done it all and is essentially bored with the whole thing!

A Positive Attitude Dictates Success

When it comes to which employees are predicted to be more successful, between those with a positive resilient attitude and those with a complete list of desired skills and experience, you may be surprised at the results. Carol Dweck, a psychologist who’s entire career focused on studying the relationship between attitude and performance, showed that attitude was a better predictor of success than IQ. A positive attitude has other benefits beside resilience however. When it comes to an enjoyable working environment, one of the biggest contributing factors isn’t the number of bean bags or games rooms, but the attitude of your peers and managers. If you feel good about the people you work with, you will work better as part of the team simply because you will do more for people you like and gel well with.

Remember, this is not to say that skill levels and experience should be overlooked in favour of positive motivated people, but rather that you should be attempting to pay attention to both aspects of the candidates in front of you.
Keep an eye out for the next instalment in our Personality series, where we’ll look at personality traits you should be hiring for (and some you should avoid!)






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