Talent Acquisition

4 Personality Traits of Star Performers

Let’s be honest, finding (and keeping) star performers is a real challenge. I know that earlier in my career I made a number of mistakes when looking for these top performers. I looked at their experience, their track record, their suitability to the role and, if everything else checked out ok, then I hired them.

Thankfully, many worked out just fine, but some didn’t, and after a time I invested some time in analyzing why this was the case. I really felt that there was something missing in my approach to recruitment and I needed to do something about it.

If you have always hired the perfect candidate, then you can stop reading now! But, if you are like me, and don’t have a 100% success rate, then this may help:

After much soul searching and analysis – along with some expert input I realized that I needed to have a different criterion – I came up with 4 personality traits and decided to put it to the test. The new criterion is as follows, and is in this order:

  1. Emotional intelligence
  2. Their values
  3. Attitude/cultural fit
  4. Work ethic

So, let me take them one by one:

1) Emotional intelligence:

The definition I ascribe to for Emotional Intelligence is – the ability to identify, assess, control and manage emotions.

I can certainly get a good sense of someone during the interview, but I do not rely on that – I use a test, Trait EI, that has worldwide recognition as an expert tool in this space, and insist that all candidates complete this.

Emotional intelligence is critical and would have a far heavier weighting for me than IQ. Their EI will let me know a lot about how they will behave and how well they are able to manage their emotions, and the emotions of others. It also gives  me a good sense of their level of happiness, their adaptability, their drive and passion. All this information is fundamental before you decide to hire.

READ MORE: How To Use Emotional Intelligence in Recruitment

2) Their values:

This can be difficult to ascertain in an interview, but you can get a pretty good idea by asking various questions about what motivates them, what inspires them, how engaged they are in their community.

  • Do they give credit to others for successes and achievements they have?
  • Who are their role models?
  • What do they want to be?

You also get a lot by observing their body language during this part of the conversation. Are they engaged with their own answers? Are they struggling to find answers? All good pointers.

3) Attitude/cultural fit:

The obvious prerequisite here is that I must be clear what I am looking for here – what sort of attitude am I looking for? What is the culture I want them to fit into? I don’t assume the answers to those questions are obvious – I have come across many organizations that struggled to answer them clearly!

Assuming I know what I am looking for I will get a very good handle on the candidate by the way they respond, their tone of voice, their passion and level of enthusiasm.

4) Work ethic:

I want someone who has a strong work ethic – you can find out about their ethic by questioning what they do when not at work.

Do they just do nothing and laze about or are they active? When they were studying did they do part time work or were they dependent on their families?

Is there attitude to work that it is something you just have to do to earn a living, or is it part of achieving their mission.

Focusing on these traits really helped me recruit (and retain!) the sort of star performers I was looking for.

Did I have 100% success rate after? Well – no! But I certainly got more people that fitted into the team and the team performance improved significantly as a result. I was certainly happy with the result.

What criterion do you use when hiring? Would love to hear.

By John Murphy

John Murphy is founder of JohnMurphyInternational, a specialist online coaching business. John specializes in advising and mentoring entrepreneurs and senior executives on how to build their business and be effective as a leader and manager.

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