how-to-assess-personality-in-an-interview

The successful hiring and retaining of new employees is an art form that has evolved significantly over the last decade.

The relationship starts at the interview process and is the defining moment when you will either cost the company or add value, based on your choice of the “best” person for the job. It all boils down to a personality fit to both the job requirements and the company culture. But are you spending enough thought on the structure of the interview that will yield accurate results?

Old Tricks Interview Styles

The worst thing you can do is ask generalized questions that can’t illicit information crucial to assessing the candidate’s personality. The standard, “tell me about yourself” is a broad, unspecified question that tells the interviewee they are in unstructured interview territory and are about to be asked “which superhero would best describe their personality”.

You are also going to antagonize your applicant and legally endanger yourself if you ask illegal interview questions. The applicant is also interviewing you and is looking to match their skill set with a company that resonates with integrity and competency.

A Structured Interview Is Key

When you structure your interview process, the assessment of personality becomes a designed process. Every question has been carefully chosen to assess the the candidate’s skills and knowledge.

During the interview process candidates will all be asked the same questions and their answers will then be rated using a quantitative scale. This minimizes error and significantly reduces interviewer bias. The types of questions that are being asked in interviews today show how companies have learnt from the mistakes of going on gut feelings and are investing in specificity instead.

While you can process an enormous amount of information on an applicant from their etiquette, manners and timeliness, you also must ensure that there is more to them than merely dressing the part.

The Behavioral Backpack

While it is generally pretty easy to accurately judge whether someone is an extrovert or introvert based on observed traits, they seldom correlate with self-reported personality factors. What does this mean? You need to increase your accuracy by asking a combination of behavioral and knowledge revealing questions. You want to know the applicant’s track record of past work experiences, personality traits and specific information on the skills in their current backpack.

You are looking at how agreeable they are in the workplace, ability to work with a team and ability to work with deadlines. These job-related questions and insight delivering past behavior indicator questions yield data that helps you make a more informed choice.

Company Culture Club

A new employee’s energy has the potential to significantly modify a company’s culture.

Perhaps you are looking for a perfect match to your existing culture club but you could also be looking to shake up the status quo to move the company culture forward. You must be sure of the strategy around culture before you start the hiring process so you can include questions targeted to this topic. If the company culture is too risk-averse you might be looking to add risk taking candidates into the mix. It’s also important to know the sub-culture in the different departments so that your interview questions can be structured accordingly.

Manners Make It

Your first impressions of a candidate and their interview etiquette must also be noted as integral factors in judging personality. Ask yourself the following questions to be sure the applicant is starting on the right footing:

  • Was the candidate on time?
  • Did he/she greet you as Ms. or Mr., showing respect?
  • Did they ensure their mobile was switched off completely?
  • Did they make eye contact and have a congenial smile?
  • Did the candidate have a firm handshake?
  • Is the candidate talking too much and not letting you take the lead in the interview?
  • Is the candidate trying to finish your sentences?
  • Does the candidate display good posture, sitting straight up?
  • Is the candidate taking important notes on a notepad? (shouldn’t be taking notes on an electronic device)
  • Did the candidate send a thank you note after the interview?

Double whammy

Many companies are choosing to use a combination of face-to-face interview techniques with a psychometric assessment to assess personality. This two-pronged approach is assisting companies to attract and retain talent. These new tactics are helping recruiters to really uncover who the applicant is and not just what they can do.

Making the right choice the first time around saves a big spend on replacing a non-performer or one who will flee at the first whiff of the next big thing.

Psychometric tests can really get to the heart of your candidate’s personality through over 200 questions that deliver specific evaluations. They are standardized so everyone gets to answer the same questions. While candidates can charm the interviewers, they can’t charm a personality test.

You can’t fake the test; it is cheat-free. It is very easy to gauge if people are giving answers they think the manager wants to hear. Here are some examples of aptitude tests so you can get an idea of psychometric tests used by employers in many different job application processes.

The Choice

You may be looking to assess a personality who is rich in truthfulness, strong work ethic, who is responsible and has a forgiving spirit. Someone who is teachable, is able to keep commitments and can meet deadlines in a timely manner.

In short, you are likely seeking an individual who is able to resonate with the company’s culture. The rest is in the body language, impressions and etiquette of a candidate.

When you have the right questions, in a structured interview with assessment tools to assist with making the best choice –you empower yourself and the candidate to excel.

 

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