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Split (on) personality: Why you should recruit based on character

June 13, 2023
Multiple faces connected

Picking the right person for the right role can be  stressful. Even if you’re given a list of candidates as long as your arm who could all potentially do the job, figuring out who can do it best is not an easy task. More and more employers are opting out of the traditional methods of recruitment — CVs or standalone interviews — and considering a more holistic approach to hiring the best talent, which includes looking at a candidate’s personality as well as experience, education, and skills.

Why is personality important for recruitment?

Personality — or the traits that determine the typical way a person acts, thinks, and responds to situations —  is one of the most vital factors in making the right decision when hiring. But why is this the case?

1. Personality never changes

Skills are obviously important when it comes to performing a job. However, they can be learnt. With practice, people can hone new skills. But, as we all know, personality is pretty fixed. While you can learn to act better, develop yourself in certain areas, and minimise your weaknesses — the inherent traits of your psyche are there forever, even if you can work on them.

That means that if you have a candidate who possesses all the right skills for the role, but whose personality is not suitable for the job or your culture, they will likely be a worse option that a candidate who isn't as skilled but has the right attitude and qualities — you can polish this diamond in the rough, teach them the skills, and train them to become a star employee. A candidate with the wrong personality isn't going to suddenly become right: you can't train someone to have resilience, creativity, or work ethic, unless they put in the work themselves.

2. Personality is important for culture

In today’s world, there’s no two ways about it — culture is king. While there are many actions businesses can take to improve and cement their culture, at the end of the day, it relies on individuals, and specifically, individuals’ personalities.

If your ideal company culture celebrates innovation and creativity, hiring a stickler for rules as a manager might impede your efforts. Whereas, a company that relies on its hierarchical structures for organisational success would benefit from a person with an impeccable work ethic, but could inject chaos into their processes with a hire who is free spirited and doesn’t care much for authority — no matter how skilled they are.

3. Personality creates heterogeneous teams

If you want everyone in your company to be the same, you may as well just use ChatGPT to do the job. Seeing as teams are not made up of robots (at least not exclusively), thinking about individuals’ personalities — and especially how they mesh together — is crucial for your success.

Note that we didn’t say ‘similar personalities’, but rather how they work alongside each other. An exceptional team would have people with different strengths and weaknesses, creating a mosaic of personalities that complement each other rather than more of the same. By hiring people with attributes that are missing from your current team, you can breathe fresh air into it. Having the right mix of characters is especially important in small businesses.

4. Personality is good for diversity

Diversity and inclusion has been a top priority for many companies. It’s not just because it's nice to have (although it definitely is), but also because diverse teams have been proven to outperform their competitors time and time again. Hiring for personality is a great way to ensure you’re not letting your unconscious biases kick in.

Those from a poorer background might not have the same education or skill set that their richer counterparts gained earlier on, but their personality might be suitable for learning these quickly, for example. The traits of a person, rather than their gender, ethnicity, or any other factor that may cause bias, can be a great way to know for a fact you’re making the right choice, not the most mentally comfortable choice.

A lightbulb with a brain

5. Personality can indicate role suitability

It’s not just about having a mix of strengths and weaknesses, or providing an opportunity for people from different backgrounds to get through a screening process. Personality is also one of the most representative elements indicating job suitability, with 78% of professionals agreeing it’s the most crucial factor when hiring.

When you think about it, it’s pretty straightforward. If you’re creative, you’d do better in creative roles; if you are bold and confident, you’d do better in leadership roles; and if you’re diligent and careful, you’d do better in compliance roles. It’s not rocket science (but there are still traits that would make you more successful if that’s the career you chose — for example, adaptability and persistence). Hiring someone with the right personality is hiring someone who is more suitable for the job.

6. Personality affects performance

Beyond suitability, the right personality also indicates high performance. Almost half of new employees quit their jobs or fail within the first 18 months, 89% of which occur due to attitude misfit. Being interested in doing your job makes you better at it, stops you from getting bored and wanting to leave, and adds an element of pride that paves the way to success.

Personality impacts every aspect of your employees’ performance, from day-to-day tasks to reactions to situations that may occur. The right personality will lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and engagement — all indicators of performance and retention.

Why personality tests are important for recruitment?

So, we’ve established that involving a candidate’s personality in your hiring decision is a no-brainer. However, how do you measure something as vague as personality without working alongside this person for a good while?

The answer? Personality assessments! These are a fantastic way to ascertain what traits a candidate possesses, where their weaknesses lie, and how they’d fit into your company culture. However, not every personality test is suitable for recruitment, and even those that were built for this purpose aren’t necessarily valid from a scientific standpoint.

How can Thrive help?

Thrive’s simple, low-cost platform provides you with market-leading personality and ability assessments, developed by occupational psychologists, that have been completed by millions of candidates from all backgrounds — giving you a benchmark for the role you are hiring for. Thrive scientifically determines which traits are most important for your role, but also allows for personalisation, so that you add the qualities that you find particularly important in the context of your company culture.

Once a candidate has completed an assessment, Thrive’s team of psychologists provides a personality report which includes interview questions to understand how your potential hire handles their specific weaknesses, and also helps you develop and onboard them based on their personality, increasing retention.

If you’re interested to learn more about how Thrive can help you assess candidates, book a demo with us today.

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