Talent Acquisition

How Behavior Trumps Personality In Recruitment

Have you ever considered the impact of behavior in your business? Often the areas of biggest concern and challenge in a business are related to people and their behavior, but during the recruitment process, businesses tend to focus on the personalities of their team members instead of their behavior.

When looking at pre-employment testing, personality profiling has traditionally been chosen over forms of behavioral assessment and whilst the insight into someone’s personality may be interesting, the fact that personality is static, means it is very difficult to do anything with that information. Behaviour, however, is something that can change, but people do tend to have dominant behavioral patterns. To put it simply – personality is intrinsically who we are, whilst behavior is how we do something.

Dr. Robin Stuart-Kotze, professor at Oxford says: “It has been maintained that personality becomes virtually fixed at about age five.” From a very small age, it is extremely difficult for people to change elements of their personalities, who they are, however they can more easily alter their behavior, how they do things, to flex according to the needs of a situation.

Behavior impacts all aspects of our performance, everything from how we react to certain situations to how we handle feedback and how we use our energy throughout the day. You need different behaviors to be successful in different roles. Being able to understand and identify certain behavioral traits and pair them with the right job roles leads to increases in productivity, performance, and ultimately satisfaction, for both the employee and employer.

It helps to first understand what kind of behaviors would be best suited to the job role you are recruiting for before you start the interview process. Key traits to consider ahead of and during the interview, to fit with the job role, might include reviewing if the candidate is process driven, or if they like flexibility and options. You might want to review what they are driven by – is it achievement, opportunity to take charge or affiliation with the people around them? Other things to consider might include reviewing if the candidate looks for the big picture or are they detail focussed? Are they solution focussed or more of a problem solver?

Once you have established what behaviors would complement the role you are recruiting for, the questions you would usually ask during an interview are likely to change in line with this approach, to ensure you find the right addition to your team. There are many different behavioral patterns, but asking the right questions will help you to establish how each candidate would approach and carry out their work and how their dominant behaviors would fit in with the rest of your team.

It is much easier to change how we do things than to change who we are. Firstly, you need to find and appoint someone with behaviors that fit a particular role, that will enable them to perform to their areas of strength, then couple this with skills, knowledge, and experience. If you recruit people with the wrong behavioral traits for your business, this could go a long way to explaining culture or performance issues.

If you continue to hire people based on their personality and experience, which so many businesses are still doing, you may find yourself recruiting for the same position again in six months’ time. Whereas, if you focus on building your team around their behaviors, you will see a difference throughout the business.

Your people and their dominant behaviors contribute to your business, and if they are a good behavioral fit for their role, this will drive increases in productivity, performance, retention, and revenue, all of which are key for business owners when running (and growing) a healthy business.

About the author: Laura Weaving is the Founder and Managing Director of Duo Global Consulting, a behavior focussed consultancy that works with scale-up businesses in the UK and internationally to lead and navigate strategic change by creating cultures that attract, engage and retain high performing people. Laura has an extensive background in organizational culture, recruitment, people and HR strategy for growth focussed businesses.

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