Do you know who you want to hire for your new opening?
Do you really?
Often, we think we’ve nailed down all the requirements of the job—they should be competent at using the relevant equipment, they should be responsible, they should be able to meet deadlines—but haven’t given much thought to the right personality beyond, “This person shouldn’t be a jerk.”
But personality fit can make or break someone’s success on your team. Before you hire your next employee, it’s worth thinking about the personality that would lead that person to feel comfortable and confident in their work, resulting and both an employee and a team that will thrive as a result.
What personality isn’t.
Despite the claims of a million people’s dating profiles, there’s no such thing as a “good personality.” While there are probably personalities out there that are unsuited to any job (extreme avoidance of responsibility and the desire to inflict pain come to mind as personality traits to avoid at all costs), most personality traits aren’t moral judgments, but rather indicators of suitability for one environment over another.
Similarly, there are a lot of things that we consider “personality” that are so vague as to be unhelpful, at least in the context of work. We might appreciate someone for being funny. That’s a personality trait, right? But one person might have a dark, dry sense of humor, one might love pranks, and another might be fond of puns and wordplay.
While all three might have a personality that makes them inclined to add levity to stressful social interactions (which can absolutely be an excellent quality in a social media manager, for example), it’s no guarantee that their particular brand of humor is going to be an asset. Clever responses to tweets is something you could test for ask a skill, rather than assuming “funny” people will naturally succeed in this kind of role.
What personality is.
Personality is, in some ways, a description of our preferences and our responses to stress when those preferences aren’t accommodated.
If you’re most comfortable when you have time to reflect and think about what you’re doing before taking action, that’s a part of your personality.
If you tend to run with the first solution that comes to your head, knowing that whatever follows is usually overthinking, that’s a part of your personality.
If you panic when something messes with your daily routine and then run around to set everything back to rights as quickly as possible, that’s part of your personality.
If you’re easily distracted and bored when asked to focus on a single task for an extended period of time, that’s part of your personality.
If some of these seem more positive than others, imagine them in different contexts. That routine-oriented person might be an amazing safety manager, inspecting the same equipment repeatedly on a daily basis and hustling as quickly as possible to get back on track if anything has gone awry. That easily-bored employee might be ideal in a role where they’re tackling new situations every day and jumping from one task to another multiple times in a given hour.
What’s the best personality for this job?
This requires a thorough understanding of the job itself.
What are the daily tasks of the job itself?
Is the work mostly self-managed or done in collaboration with others?
Does the job require more logical or creative thinking?
Does the job require intuitive or methodical problem-solving?
Does the work involve multitasking or frequent interruptions, or long stretches of focused work?
Is the work predictable or does it vary wildly?
Questions like this will lead you to an outline of the personality profile of your ideal employee.
Perhaps you need a receptionist who is comfortable having conversations with a large number of strangers every day, both on the phone and in person. They need to be assertive about the rules while also keeping their cool under fire. They should be able to respond to people on the spot, and keep track of meeting times despite constant interruptions. The person who is happy in this position gets a rush from meeting new challenges and people each day.
On the other hand, perhaps you’re looking for a data analyst. This person needs to be able to give their entire focus to one project at a time. Their reports must be impeccable before being sent out; they should be checked and double-checked. The reports are all similar, and while some creative coding to make them more user-friendly is appreciated, consistency comes first. The person who is happy in this position is excited about identifying new ways of looking at data that can improve efficiency or increase profit margins. And they’ll continue to be excited about working towards this every day.
What kind of personality profile is happy and successful in the role you’re in now?
What kind of personality profile is happy and successful in the opening you’re looking to fill?
So what happens once you’ve got your ideal personality mapped?
For more information about uncovering the personality traits that matter most in job candidates, download True Match: Hiring for Personality. This free offering will walk you through the process from creating a job description all the way through reflecting on the success of your hire.