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How to gauge applicants’ personality traits


Pre employment assessments can help HR managers as they work toward finding candidates with the necessary hard and soft skills.

Proven hiring strategies like using a pre employment test, conducting background checks and asking tough questions during interviews are all effective ways to measure a prospective hire’s skills, but what about the more subtle attributes that can make the difference between a proactive employee and a disengaged worker? According to an article in Harvard Business Review, it comes down to who they are as people.

The piece, written by CEO of venture capital firm Cue Balle Anthony Tjan, gives some tips for employers concerned with choosing new hires whose personalities lend to both company culture and the job role.

During the preliminary hiring process, managers may want to pay attention to how much a person talks versus the time they spend listening. If they’re all chatter and seem to have a short attention span when it’s your time to talk, Tjan wrote that this may be a red flag. Additionally, professionals should take note of a person’s attitudes and reactions. Oftentimes, it’s best to go for a candidate who seems both positive and proactive in his or her demeanor.

If you get a chance to spend some time with applicants, Tjan suggested talking to them about what they’re currently reading. Whether they list a number of credible hard news sources or the name of the latest novel they’re engaged in, this factor could tell you a lot about who they are. Also, an individual’s spouse or close friends may give some indication of the candidate’s personality.

Get a taste of their personality before the interview
An article in Inc. Magazine lists 10 hiring tips for managers, and one includes a few questions that employers can include in their postings. Entrepreneur Vanessa Merit Nornberg told the news source that her job descriptions typically aim to get answers from applicants on these questions: “a) What drives your principle motivation?; b) Have you ever played a sport and, if so, which position? If not, what competitive activity have you participated in?; c) If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?”

Nornberg said failure on the part of candidates to answer these questions often results in a rejected application. Conversely, answering these inquiries in a way that demonstrates motivation, competitiveness and originality may be what lands them an in-person interview.

The entrepreneur added that hiring managers may also get a glimpse into an applicant’s personality by presenting hypothetical scenarios and asking them how they’d handle the situation. Clearly, what people say they will do and what they actually do may not exactly align, but putting a person in a position where he or she has to think quickly and creatively may yield some revealing responses.