Look for Work Behaviors When Hiring – NOT Personality Traits

Leora Baumgarten —  April 16, 2012 — 2 Comments

While personality assessments are reliable, at NewHire we often start by talking about work behaviors and attitudes. It is not complicated to identify specific work behaviors that lead to success in a particular job. It can be much more time consuming to try to figure out which type of personality will be successful on the job.

work behaviors and attitudes mean more than other indivators

We like to start with work behaviors because we can screen for applicants with desirable work behaviors during the application process and save the costly personality assessments for the finalists.

Here’s an example:

A promotional products company is hiring a fulfillment specialist. This person will be responsible for receiving product details from account managers, contacting vendors with the specs and managing the fulfillment and on-time delivery. Knowledge of vendors, products, production and delivery times is a must. The owner explains that the most successful employees in this position are gregarious, hard working and detail oriented.

Gregarious, hard working and detail oriented are personality traits. But which work behaviors are actually key factors for success in this position?

Start by matching up personality traits to work behaviors. Here are some specific work behaviors that relate to these perceived personality traits:




Stays in touch with the vendor and builds relationships

Hard working

Enjoys a fast paced work environment with a variety of duties

Detail oriented

Has a system for tracking details and follow-up schedules

How do you find out what their work behaviors are?

Create screening questions to help you determine what their work behaviors are. Here are a couple examples of effective screening questions that can help identify people with these specific work behaviors. Notice that the applicant can’t just search the internet to find the right answer.

1. To ensure on-time order fulfillment from third party vendors it is best to…

a. Establish your authority with the vendor
b. Build a relationship with the vendor based on mutual understanding of benefits and obligations
c. Follow-up just before the delivery date to ensure the order is correct
d. Change vendors often

2. What type of work environment do you prefer? I prefer a work environment…

a. with a regular set of daily duties in which I can learn to excel
b. with a fast pace and a wide variety of duties and people to work with
c. where I can juggle a few on-going projects that each require time and attention
d. where I get to solve problems

Use these types of questions during an interview, or better yet, use them in a pre-employment application when candidates first apply for your job. This helps streamline your recruiting process so you only speak to candidates who meet these key criteria for employment.

Leora Baumgarten


Leora is Vice President of NewHire and a pro when it comes to hiring & recruiting for SMBs. When not at the office, you can find her swimming in Lake Michigan or spending time with her family in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Connect with her on Google+.

Get more recruiting tips via email. Straight forward. No spam.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. How to Interview & Select Non-Skilled Employees | NewHire - Recruiting Tips & Advice - April 3, 2013

    […] to start building a replacement workforce. When previous experience doesn’t exist, think about hiring for behaviors and teaching […]

  2. 3 Ways to Attract Top Talent With Out a Big Paycheck | NewHire - Recruiting Tips & Advice - May 6, 2013

    […] […]

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>