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Understand which traits make the right fit

Published on Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Brett Ireland

Hiring an employee is like making an important investment decision. The candidate represents the capital, in this case “human capital” and, as with any decision that can have big financial implications, it is important to make the right choice. If you can do that consistently and correctly, finding the best people for each position from the available talent pool, it makes a significant contribution to the overall success of the organisation.

When the hiring and on-boarding process runs well, it leads on naturally to better teamwork and higher rates of retention. This translates directly into better returns for the company. In contrast, if an effective system is not in place, it can result in costly hiring mistakes and the unwanted consequences of constant staff turnover.

Especially now, with the effects of globalisation, market volatility, and heightened corporate competitiveness, hiring people who are the right fit for the organisation is more critical than ever. It is those employees who will drive performance in the years ahead and bring about the change, innovation, and efficiencies that define progress in every sector or industry.

In identifying suitable recruits, many factors come into play. It is never just a question of background, skills and experience. In fact, personality traits and perceived “cultural fit” can be even more important in deciding who is right for a job, not simply qualified on paper to do it.

So, while the traditional steps in the hiring process are still essential, employers are increasingly interested in adopting newer profiling techniques. The basics like résumé screening, face-to-face interviews, and the checking of references will remain integral to the standard recruitment process. Many of those favourite questions about strengths, achievements, ambitions, and salary expectations will continue to be asked. But to supplement them, there will be a new focus to minimise the risk of taking on people who say all the right things at interview, but will struggle to impress when part of the team.

Perhaps surprisingly, managers often overlook personality traits and how individuals will adapt to a new working environment. This, though, is still a major cause of staff turnover in Hong Kong and the reason behind many “unexpected” departures.

Behavioural assessment profiling is one of the best ways to reduce the risks associated with hiring. It offers an effective method of understanding the types of behaviour required for success in your company. The starting point is to analyse the key personality traits of your top performers in each role. Those profiles then provide a basis for future hiring.

Behaviour on the job and success in a role are obviously influenced by personality. To see that, just consider the top performers on any sales team. Certain personality traits – being outgoing, personable, resilient – clearly contribute to success and job satisfaction. And profiling makes it possible to pin down the skills, knowledge, characteristics, and decision-making abilities needed to do well in your business environment.

After assessing the qualities of top in-house performers in key areas, you can develop a benchmark personality profile. Then, when interviewing short-listed candidates, their individual personality traits can be matched more easily against the benchmark. This will enable more effective hiring and increase the certainty of finding candidates with the right skills and traits for the position and what it promises.

Remember that a personality profile is not a test. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to such analysis. Different traits are simply a tendency to behave instinctively one way or another, and what works in one company may not fit the next. But profiling does provide employers with valuable information for making key decisions and ensuring that new hires can integrate and contribute more quickly.

Brett Ireland is general manager of Drake Overload, a member of the Drake International Group. He uses profiling techniques to help companies recruit

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