Why Personality Profiles Will Help You Hire Better

Guest Blogger —  December 12, 2012 — 5 Comments

“In the interview he seemed like Brad Pitt, but once I hired him he was more like Danny De Vito.”

Business owners, I love you – but you don’t know how to hire.

You interview a candidate for a couple of hours or maybe even take him out for a meal. And if you are really thorough, you call a few of his references. While he’s got a few quirks, you hire him and hope to work alongside him for years to come.

personality profiles

Now come on! Do you buy a house that quickly? Or a car? When you think about it, the hiring practices of business owners are kind of crazy!

The challenge is that you can’t “test drive” your job candidates. You need to fill a job, and they need to get a job. The window is (hopefully) short for both of you. So how do you “get to know” a candidate really well in a short period of time? How can you more quickly learn who this person is and how they will fit with your team?

The only way I have found to do this is to conduct a personality profile assessment. This assessment, usually taken online, asks questions about a candidate’s temperament and personality and then delivers a report outlining the candidate’s profile. When you compare the candidate’s profile with the profile of your other team members, you can see whether the person is a fit or not.

I rarely see a profile that’s “bad” or “wrong for the position.” Instead I’m asking, “What are the risks and opportunities in hiring this person?” Sometimes a team needs a diversity of personalities to get the work done, but knowing how different people think can head off problems. For example:

  • When hiring for a role on a very fast-paced team with a lot of team members who like to give verbal direction, I saw a qualified candidate who was process-oriented and loved detail. This candidate would be a terrific fit, if the team could find a way to accommodate the candidate’s need to process new information and desire to get things in writing. This profile prompted a discussion that eliminated a lot of misunderstanding and confusion.
  • A very visionary, strong-willed client is hiring an assistant whose personality profile reveals that he is very concrete and pragmatic. How will the assistant get the detailed direction he needs? Will the manager be willing to slow down in order to answer all of his questions? If not it’s a disaster — if so he can really fill in a weak spot that the manager has.
  • An introverted finance person joins a team of highly extroverted salespeople as a pricing analyst. How will the team accommodate his need for greater analysis time? How will the introvert accommodate the team’s strong desire to brainstorm and problem-solve verbally?

These are real issues that come up all the time during the hiring process. Using a reliable, accurate, and well researched tool can help to head these issues off at the hiring stage and pave the way for a more successful hire.

What kind of tools do you use to make your hiring more successful?


Brad FarrisBrad Farris is a small business advisor with Anchor Advisors, Ltd. in Chicago, IL. Since 2001 Anchor Advisors has been helping creative professional firms to grow, by helping them clarify their purpose, get the most from their people, keep their eye on key performance measures, and implement consistent processes. Brad is also the author of 3 e-books and managing editor of EnMast, a business owner community. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter.

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5 responses to Why Personality Profiles Will Help You Hire Better

  1. Hummmmm – would be very careful using personality tests for hiring purposes. They can run afoul of discrimination laws including culture, national origin and ADA…..

    • You are correct that you have to choose your personality profile vendor carefully to make sure that they have tested their instrument and make sure that it doesn’t have a racial bias. But if the traits you are evaluating are relevant to job performance then using the test is perfectly legitimate and you should not run a-foul of any discrimination laws.

    • You are right, Karla. Companies should use care. Here’s a link to the adverse impact study recently published by TTI Performance Systems, an assessment company that we use: http://www.ttiassessments.com/latest_thinkings

      Using care doesn’t mean, though, it can’t be done at all. As part of a hiring process it can provide powerful information, another piece of the puzzle. We say that the results are “illustrative” not “definitive.” Use the behavior and motivation assessments to have richer conversations with job candidates, not to determine who to interview or hire.

      I’d like to hear from others about this as well…

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