More and more businesses are focusing on personality traits and prospective cultural fit when hiring by using interview tactics designed to uncover who applicants are, as opposed to simply what they are capable of doing.
In fact, some companies will even prioritize a candidate with a “winning” personality over someone with the proper “hard skills” who seems like a bad cultural fit, especially if the hard skills in question can be learned on the job. This may sound revolutionary; however, it makes sense when you think about how a person may be able to master new skills, but not take on a whole different personality.
Before you go digging around in candidates’ personalities, it’s important to understand the kind of culture you already have, and what kind of person thrives in that culture.
For instance, if you are a small family-owned business, you want to hire candidates with the social skills needed to fit into a tight-knit community. If you are a growing midsize or large company, you may be more concerned about professionalism and passion than simply good people skills.
Also, look at your most effective employees and figure out the personality traits they have in common. There’s a good chance someone else with these traits will also thrive at your organization.
Finally, if you look at your company or department culture and you don’t like what you see, don’t try to hire your way out of the situation. People who don’t fit into a dysfunctional culture will only get chewed up and spit out. It’s better to take internal steps toward fixing cultural issues, rather than hire new employees and hope they will fix your problems for you.
Many companies are reporting a high degree of success in using personality tests to evaluate applicants. A downside to using these tests, however, is the fact they add one more layer to the hiring process, which means more time and energy spent both administering the tests and evaluating the responses.
Instead, you could simply adjust your interview questions and understand something about the personalities of your job candidates. Open-ended questions about a person’s interests and disposition can often yield valuable information that might be used to determine cultural fit. For instance, you could ask someone what their last Facebook post was about or what they did last weekend.
When candidates respond to these open-ended questions, try to pick out signs of the various traits you are looking for in a candidate. For instance, a hiring manager from a family-owned business might want to hear a candidate say they have a strong sense of family and spend a considerable amount of their weekend going to family cookouts.
Keep in mind some applicants will be more open than others in a pressure-packed interview setting, and other applicants may find it unnatural to talk about themselves. In both instances, a person’s true personality may not emerge until they are actually in the job.
A skilled interviewer should be able to use effective tactics to find out if a candidate’s personality is a solid fit for the company.
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