SelectOne Blog

The DISC Profile and What it Tells Us About Job Suitability


There are many different methods for looking at and analyzing personality. Among these is the DISC profile, which can be a useful tool in understanding people’s underlying values and preferences when it comes to the work they do. In the workplace, this can be especially helpful in understanding how an individual approaches their job on a day-to-day basis. It can also be useful in diagnosing problems in team dynamics, especially when the people in question work well as individuals, but seem to have trouble when functioning together as a unit. When hiring, it can make sense to look at both the work itself and the work environment in which a new employee will be expected to function. The DISC profile is one tool that can help you think about whether a candidate might find it easy to succeed in the position.

What is the DISC profile?

Developed by American psychologist William Moulton Marston (better known as the creator of Wonder Woman), DISC theory states that a person’s habitual emotions and behavior can be described on two axes: whether they feel positively or negatively about their environment, and whether or not they feel in control of that environment. He named the four possible combinations Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance. While he published this theory in 1928, he never developed an assessment based on personality type.

Hiring for Personality Guide - free download

Today, this model has been refined somewhat, and there are a number of different assessments developed in order to help people identify their DISC type. The modern DISC profile is as follows:

  • Dominance: The dominance personality sees that their environment requires changing and feels empowered to change it. They desire to overcome challenges in order to get results. Positive impressions of dominant personalities include boldness, decisiveness, and confidence. Negative impressions include impatience, hyper-competitiveness, and insensitivity.
  • Influence: Influence personalities see their environment as needing change, but feels that this change is most likely to come about through the actions of others. Thus, they strive to exert influence rather than create change through individual means. Influence types may be positively viewed as welcoming, collaborative, and convincing, and negatively viewed as indirect and needy.
  • Steadiness: Someone with a steadiness personality works within existing conditions rather than trying to change them, and strives to do so in collaboration with others. On a positive level, steadiness types are seen as humble, patient, and accommodating. They can also be viewed negatively as indecisive, overly non-confrontational, and lacking in vision.
  • Conscientiousness: Conscientiousness personalities see value in the existing conditions and feels personally empowered to continue to uphold them. They are seen as being deliberate, analytical, and consistent, but also as having trouble learning to delegate, take risks, or compromise.

Variations within DISC types.

Within any given personality type, you’ll see people with inclinations in a secondary direction. For example, it’s common for someone with an Influence personality type to show a number of signs of Steadiness as well, or in the opposite direction towards Dominance. Within each type there are also varying degrees of extremity. One person might be exceedingly dominant, while another might have similar leanings, but on a much milder scale. In the end, everyone has some aspects of all four types. It would be a mistake to say that Dominance personalities can never show any signs of Steadiness, or vice versa. Rather, it is a general inclination towards particular attitudes and behaviors. People will tend to feel most comfortable in their own unique range.

How does one’s DISC profile affect job suitability?

Because people are naturally more comfortable with a particular style of work, it is worth thinking about what kind of approach is best suited to the job you have in mind.

  • Are you looking for a proofreader who will not get distracted by trying to make editorial decisions? This is an ideal position for someone with a Conscientiousness personality type. You can trust that they’ll do their absolute best with regards to spelling and grammar without telling you this brand manual might be more fun if written as a series of haiku.
  • Hiring a baker who can create and test innovative recipes with relatively limited oversight? This is a fantastic job for a Dominance personality type. They will feel excited by the prospect of continually outdoing themselves by taking new culinary risks, keeping your cakes exciting and your employee fulfilled.
  • Crisis PR is a high-stress job, but an Influence personality is the sort of person who is most likely to take it in stride. They love bringing others around to seeing your organization’s side of the story, managing people’s fearful, angry, and confused emotions to help accomplish a particular goal.
  • If you need a tutor to implement a specific curriculum as part of a literacy development program, a Steadiness personality is a solid bet. They’ll work sensitively with students, taking their various needs into account without getting sidetracked away from the lesson plan.

While there are certainly stereotypes about each personality type (All leaders should be dominant! All accountants should be conscientious!), it’s worth giving thought to the actual work involved, rather than a vague historic idea of what a position should look like. You may find that you’d rather have a leader whose default method is consulting their team’s experts before moving ahead with a new project, or an accountant who can dream up new ways to communicate complex formulas with clients so that they are more clear and easy to understand.

How can DISC profiles affect teams?

Do you have a team with big dreams that plans and plans and plans … but doesn’t actually accomplish much? One that will go along with what they’ve been doing for years, only to be surprised and a little annoyed when an outsider points out that there was a more efficient method all along? How about a team where everyone is so busy trying to outshine one another that they totally fail to operate as a unit? You might have a team that is struggling with lack of diversity in the personality department.

The best teams have a more balanced mix of personality types so that that there is some degree of compensation for the weaknesses each personality type tends to exhibit. Then when you run into a crisis, instead of everybody trying to do the same thing on top of everyone else, you have someone quickly organizing others, another person following the plan they created for just such a circumstance, another person making sure everyone’s feeling okay, etc.

Learn more about how personality can impact hiring decisions.

DISC isn’t the only way of looking at personalities. To learn more about how to think strategically about personality types when hiring new employees, download your free copy of True Match: Hiring for Personality.

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think