The Personality Factor

Richard Branson revealed that personality forms the basis of his hiring strategy: “Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality”.  As companies increasingly look to carry out their recruitment internally, more emphasis is being placed on the person behind the CV, while expertise and qualifications are coming in at a close second.

So, what do companies really mean when they say they are looking for personality?  Shane Atchison, the CEO at Possible, expertly sums it up: “Work personality is not the same as regular personality.  It’s not about how you behave at a party, but how you fit into a team”.  Evidence shows that teamwork can increase productivity and improve employee retention, so there is a business aim behind the buzzword ‘personality’ after all!

Personality Profiling…

Yet evaluating a candidate’s personality at the recruitment stage poses a significant complication, since subjectivity can seep into the equation.  In response to this, many organisations make use of psychometric testing to evaluate personality quantitatively.  As part of pre-interview screening, candidates are often asked to sit a variety of online questionnaires asking how they would respond to certain statements, such as “I enjoy meeting new people”.  These answers are then analysed, allowing the company in question to accurately weigh up the candidate’s cultural fit in the organisation.  Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), arguably the most popular personality tool used by around 80% of Fortune 500 companies, claims there are no right answers to the questions and that cheating is not possible.

Alas, if there is no winning technique to tackling these tests, then how can you score more highly in the personality stakes?  Answer: respond honestly to the questions and focus instead on improving your interview performance.

It’s Showtime…

The better your performance in the interview, the more agreeable your personality will seem to your interviewer.  The etymology of ‘performance’, deriving from the 17th Century, means the “action of performing a play”, in other words, a trade that can be practised and polished.  It’s probably common sense, but think of this when preparing for your interview: the more you rehearse prior to curtain-up, the more comfortable you will feel in your role as interviewee.

All in all, bear in mind that you can’t transform your personality and that there would be no point in doing so (you want the company to be a good fit for you too), but with more research and practice you can definitely give a more polished performance.

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