Hire for success (by prioritizing personality)

Hire for success (by prioritizing personality)

Originally published by Hays Canada

There are many boxes to tick off when choosing someone to hire, but there’s one that I find many hiring managers overlook – personality. When I hire, I’m considering how I need to build a cohesive, well-functioning unit in which the members all complement one another, not just in terms of capability, but also in terms of personality. I want a team made up of people who recognize the value of working together for the greater good, as opposed to just pursuing individual success.

Too often it’s the candidate with the longest list of accolades and widest array of qualifications that gets the job, without any consideration for how this individual might fit into a team. After all, most skills can be taught and mastered, but personality and character often cannot.

The big risk with focusing so heavily on someone’s achievements is that you often overlook their attitude. In one study of 20,000 new employees, nearly half (46 per cent) had failed at their job within the first year and a half. Nearly 90 per cent of the time, this was because of the wrong outlook, rather than a lack of skills. The right personality fit is often the hardest thing to find in a new hire, and so I conduct my hiring process with this in mind.

Assessing ‘we’ before ‘me’

Whether recruiting one hire or a whole new team, it’s important that you’re always aware of the overall team dynamic. You might be hiring the best person for each specific role, but without team cohesion there’s no guarantee of success.With this in mind, here’s a checklist you can use when building your team:

1. Introspective reflection – As a leader you need to build your team around your vision and personality. If you’re going to drive this team towards success, you need a group who complements your style. To understand what your team requires you first need to conduct a self-assessment – make sure when you do that you’re honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, and what you need to fill the gaps.

2. What makes a good team? – Ask yourself what sort of team dynamic is conducive to success, bearing in mind your specific goals and ambitions. For example, if your team is going to be operating in a high-pressured environment in a global marketplace, patience and good communication skills should be top of the priority list.

Manchester City are a prime example of hiring people according to your team dynamic. Omar Berrada, Chief Operation Officer explains: “Football clubs are the same as any ambitious organization. We work in a competitive environment and we always want to get better. So much of the time, that’s driven by having the right people, who share our objectives and values, are driven, goal-focused, and strive to improve. If you want to build a successful organization then you always have to start with your people.”

3. Social cohesiveness – Social connectedness is key to your team’s success. This can be easily assessed during the interview by watching out for: how much credit the candidate takes for team accomplishments, how much they resent their former employer and team, how frequently they use ‘me’ over ‘we,’ and also whether they have future individual or collective goals. Before anything else, if both of you are able to make the interview feel like a conversation rather than an interrogation then this is usually a good sign that you have good rapport.

4. Candidate personality assessment – There are many personality assessment tools you can use to determine group compatibility; I used one called ‘Predictive Index.’ I first assessed the roles, profiles, and attributes of the pre-existing team members. I then mapped each new candidate’s personality profile against that of the pre-existing team to ensure group success and team fit.

Mix it up

Your hiring process doesn’t have to be as rigid as this checklist is, however. I would encourage you to use different colleagues to interview different candidates, especially if these colleagues are going to be working with the new hire on a regular basis. Making sure that your existing team is involved in the hiring process is a quick win towards ensuring team cohesion.

Each interviewer should then assess different facets of each candidate with different methods, such as psychometric testing. This level of unpredictability guarantees that the interviewee won’t be able to just recite well-rehearsed answers to common interview questions; their real personality will be encouraged to shine through.

Be realistic and honest at all times with each new potential hire. If you’re not upfront about the candidate’s role and what you expect of them then this could be another contributor to them falling out with the rest of the team.

It’s often not until after the candidate joins your team – and even then not after a couple of months – that you know how good a fit they are with all the other members. Therefore it’s important that your interviews are as dynamic and varied as your team members. This way your hiring process isn’t just an assessment of how capable the candidate is at fulfilling their role, but it’s also an assessment of how well they’re going to fit in.

Reaping the rewards

Using the above process, I’ve successfully built a team based on trust and confidence. It’s great to see how they are confident enough with one another to express their honest opinion, whilst also trusting enough to know that the other members’ focus and feedback is always with the greater good in mind. This is key – constant and open feedback is an integral part of this dynamic, as well as recognition of others almost at the exclusion of oneself.

The key takeaway for you here is to concentrate on recruiting people who, don’t just have the right skills, but can also build and maintain social capital.


Rowan O’Grady is the president of Hays Canada.

See also:
Is playtime over? The rise and fall of the “cool” office
5 ways to avoid losing top talent to a higher paycheck


– Subscribe to the Hiring Insider newsletter
– Follow Workopolis_Hire on Twitter
– Listen to Safe for Work, the Workopolis podcast
– Post a job on Workopolis now



Previous Post What to do when you’re asked for a reference (but don’t want to give one)


Next Post A lesson from Stephen Hawking that every leader should remember

Scroll back to top