“Having the most talented people in each of our businesses is the most important thing. If we don’t, we lose.” –Jack Welch while CEO of GE

“If you don’t invest the time to do it correctly today, you will spend more time and money in repairing mistakes tomorrow.” – Don Paullin

Would you describe your employees as Google-y, Apple-ish or Microsoft-esque? In other words, what do you know about the personalities that drive performance in your workplace? Studies on personality assessments as predictors of job performance consistently demonstrate their merit, confirming a significant improvement in job match when a personality assessment is administered. Companies that invest in personality testing are some of the most successful in the world. One Internet search giant, for example, tests for “Googliness” through a battery of 300 questions. Despite the proven success of personality tests, many hiring protocols still do not include them.
Do you ever ask yourself, what are the ideal traits for your company or for a particular job?

A typical hiring process goes something like this. A vague job description is written, applicants respond, screening takes place (usually by someone with little or no training in how to do it and with no pre-scripted questions), in-person interviews are conducted, and an applicant is hired. The trouble is, the applicant has about a 50% chance of being a great hire.

A better hiring process goes something like this:

  1. A desired personality is crafted using a personality assessment. If possible, successful employees in the same position are assessed and the benchmark is created using their results.
  2. A clear job description is written and includes the skills and competencies required.
  3. Resumes and applications are screened.
  4. Careful recruiting begins with meticulous attention to the desired competencies, skills and personality traits required.
  5. Telephone screening is done using carefully scripted interview protocols designed for the position.
  6. Applicants chosen for interviewing are asked to complete a personality profile to see how they will fit with the culture of the company and the position.
  7. Profiles are scored and applicants are scheduled for interviews.
  8. At least two interviewers are involved, and sometimes a panel of interviewers is used.
  9. Components of the interview include:
    • introductions and rapport building;
    • a careful resume review, which means looking carefully at education and job history using a structured interview protocol carried out by well-trained interviewers;
    • a review of the personality profile to verify its accuracy and deepen understanding of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses, and to see how close they come to the profiles of people who are currently successful in the position; and
    • discussion with the candidate about the job and any questions they might have.
  10. The final team meeting to choose the best candidate takes place. Further interviewing might be required to clear up any questions or concerns.
  11. Carefully scripted reference interviews are conducted.
  12. An applicant is hired.
  13. The applicant has about an 80 to 90 % chance of being a great hire.

Overrule the results of the profile at your own risk:

It is more common than not after a new hire does not perform well that the hiring team looks back and sees things which they missed or ignored in the profile.

John was the lead candidate for a VP Sales position with a salary of $130k plus bonuses. He had good experience (verified) as a salesperson and some experience as a sales manager (not well verified). Nonetheless, he made it through the screening steps and reached me for a final review of his personality profile. He did not quite fit the well-designed benchmark we created for a sales manager but did fit a sales-only benchmark. Specifically, he came out as relatively impatient, not attentive enough to analytic thinking, not very detailed, and pretty poor at managing his time and priorities – traits often found in sales people but usually derailing characteristics in a sales manager. Here was one of the cautionary notes in his profile report: “May not pick up on other employees’ moods, wants or needs; may not be patient with others or tasks; may tend to procrastinate; may not follow through with paperwork.”

This sales recruit’s personality match was only 70% for the success benchmark we used. However, the team loved him and was anxious to fill the position and move on. John was the best candidate they had, and they chose to hire him rather than continue their search. Within four months, it was clear that the profile (and interview verification) was correct. He was simply a mis-hire and our coaching was not enough to compensate – not all salespeople make good sales managers. We threw away a ton of money, made the hiring team look bad, demoralized the sales team, and John had to look for another job; all because we did not pay attention to our well-devised protocol.

It is almost always a bad move to settle for a mediocre fit. You would not choose a spouse based on ‘so-so’ compatibility nor should you choose an employee, with whom you may work for decades, based on a so-so fit. Everything you do should be to get the best possible hire for each and every position.