Research repeatedly shows us that hiring decisions based on interviews alone are wildly inaccurate. There are a number of reasons for this. One of the major contributing factors is that hiring decisions are often based on what a candidate appears to do and what their experience tells us they can do, but they don’t focus on what candidates will actually do on the job.
Candidate appearance can matter at a superficial level. Things like expressiveness and overall presence certainly can be important in some roles. Likewise, understanding what they can do based on their experience, education and training is also important. But when you're trying to improve the efficiency of your hiring process, the most impactful factors for hiring the right person are the temperamental tendencies that are particular to that individual – in other words, what the individual will actually do.
Why Temperament Is Important
We all have a unique natural temperament, a personality that comes with a set of strengths and weaknesses. We really can’t change who we are at the core. We are who we are, for better or worse.
But, in fact, there is no such thing as better or worse when it comes to personality. There is, however, such a thing as being a better or worse fit for a particular role. And that’s why temperament is so highly predictive of on-the-job success. Certain jobs have certain temperamental demands. This means that certain people will fit more naturally into certain roles. If we hire a natural, there’s a much higher chance that we’re truly hiring the right person.
What's The Ideal Temperament?
Every job has a unique set of demands, so there’s no single “ideal” temperament. But it’s important to really define the requirements of the role at a deep level, in order to find candidates who may succeed more naturally in the position. We need to get beyond job tasks; start thinking about core traits that would define on-the-job success. For example, will being assertive and competitive be an asset? Or would it be a better for someone in this role to be deliberate and careful? It all depends on the position. If we’re hiring an Outside Sales Rep, then being assertive and competitive would certainly be characteristics that drive success. If we’re hiring a Database Administrator on the other hand, hiring the right person probably involves someone who’s more deliberate and careful.
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How To Assess Temperament
What’s the best way to assess qualities that are seemingly intangible? During the hiring process, the key lies in developing strong behavioural interview questions. In the candidate’s answers, look for behaviours that relate to the core traits of the role. A high-quality assessment tool can help compare candidates against the ideal job profile, offering a deeper understanding of how they align and where areas of development might exist. This can help to guide your interview and make sure that you’re uncovering the information you need for hiring the right person!
If we focus our assessment on matching the demands of the role to an individual who has those natural strengths, we’re making better hiring decisions – and we’re setting our candidates up for greater success.
I’ll end with an analogy: If the task at hand is gathering acorns, I might be able to train a turkey to climb a tree and get it done. But why wouldn’t I just hire a squirrel?
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