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null Prioritising personality in your hiring process


In my previous blog I told you about one hiring dilemma I recently faced when building my Global Hays Talent Solutions team – that of whether to hire externally or promote internally.

But that wasn’t the only dilemma I faced. I needed to build a cohesive, well-functioning unit in which the members all complemented one another, not just in terms of capability, but also in terms of personality fit. I wanted a team made up of people who recognise the value of working together for the greater good, as opposed to just pursuing individual success.

Too often it’s the candidate with the longest list of accolades and widest array of qualifications that gets the job, without any consideration for how this individual might fit into a team. However, I believe that skills can be taught and mastered, whilst personality and character often cannot.

The big risk with focusing so heavily on someone’s achievements is that you often overlook their attitude. In one study of 20,000 new employees, nearly half (46%) had failed at their job within the first year and a half. Nearly 90% of the time, this was because of the wrong outlook, rather than a lack of skills. The right personality fit is often the hardest thing to find in a new hire, and so I conducted my hiring process with this in mind.

Assessing ‘we’ before ‘me’

Whether recruiting one hire or a whole new team, it’s important that you’re always aware of the overall team dynamic. You might be hiring the best person for each specific role, but without team cohesion there’s no guarantee of success – just look at Real Madrid’s Galácticos and their barren decade 2002-2012; having the best individual players in the world was no precursor to their team success and attainment of trophies.

With this in mind, here’s a checklist that I used when building my team:
1. Introspective reflection – As a leader you need to build your team around your vision and your personality. If you’re going to drive this team towards success then you need a group who complements your style. To understand what your team requires you first need to conduct a self-assessment – make sure when you do that you’re honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, and what you need to fill the gaps.
2. What makes a good team? – Ask yourself what sort of team dynamic is conducive to success, bearing in mind your specific goals and ambitions. If your team is going to be operating in a highly pressured environment in a global marketplace then patience and good communication skills would be top of the priority list, for example.
3. Social cohesiveness – Social connectedness is key to your team’s success. This can be easily assessed during the interview by watching out for: how much credit the candidate takes for team accomplishments, how much they resent their former employer and team, how frequently they use ‘me’ over ‘we’ and also whether their future goals are individual or collective ones. Before anything else, if both of you are able to make the interview feel like a conversation rather than an interrogation then this is usually a good sign that you have good rapport.
4. Candidate personality assessment – There are many personality assessment tools you can use to determine group compatibility, I used one called ‘Predictive Index’. I first assessed the roles, profiles and attributes of the pre-existing team members. I then mapped each new candidate’s personality profile against that of the pre-existing team’s to ensure group success and team fit.

Mix it up

Your hiring process doesn’t have to be as rigid as this checklist is, however. I would encourage you to use different colleagues to interview different candidates, especially if these colleagues are going to be working with the new hire on a regular basis. Making sure that your existing team is involved in the hiring process is a quick win towards ensuring team cohesion.

Each interviewer should then assess different facets of each candidate with different methods, such as psychometric testing. This level of unpredictably guarantees that the interviewee won’t be able to just recite well-rehearsed answers to common interview questions; their real personality will be encouraged to shine through.

Be realistic and honest at all times with each new potential hire. If you’re not upfront about the candidate’s role and what you expect of them then this could be another contributor to them falling out with the rest of the team.

It’s often not until after the candidate joins your team – and even then not after a couple of months – that you know how good a fit they are with all the other members. Therefore it’s important that your interviews are as dynamic and varied as your team members. This way your hiring process isn’t just an assessment of how capable the candidate is at fulfilling their role, but it’s also an assessment of how well they’re going to fit in.

Reaping the rewards

I can personally attest to the success of the above method of team-cohesion focused team building – my team is three months old and we are getting stronger and closer every day.

Using the above process, I’ve successfully built a team based on trust and confidence. It’s great to see how they are confident enough with one another to express their honest opinion, whilst also trusting enough to know that the other members’ focus and feedback is always with the greater good in mind. This is key – constant and open feedback is an integral part of this dynamic, as well as recognition of others almost at the exclusion of oneself.

The key takeaway for you here is to concentrate on recruiting people who, don’t just have the right skills, but can also build and maintain social capital.


Matthew Dickason
Global Managing Director, Hays Talent Solutions

Matthew is the Global Managing Director for Hays Talent Solutions, having joined Hays in 2005. Previous roles held at Hays include Business Director in the UK and Chief Operating Officer for Asia Pacific. He is now responsible for leading the global business of Hays Talent Solutions and investing to ensure clients retain a competitive advantage in talent acquisition from the delivery of Hays MSP, RPO, technology and modular service solutions. For more information about Hays Talent Solutions, visit our website.

Prior to joining Hays, Matthew worked within Engineering, Research, Operations and Commercial areas at Johnson Matthey and Corning Inc. He has formal qualifications in Organisational Psychology and Industrial Engineering.