What, if anything, could a hiring manager say negatively about a job candidate that was exceptionally achieving? How about a candidate exhibiting high levels of conscientiousness or sociability? Surely no objections could be made about a cooperative or accommodating candidate!
In their quest to find culturally fitting job candidates, recruiters and hiring managers often yield to the results of behavioral assessments which paint either a positive or negative picture about the candidates’ potentials. Of course specific traits are more favorable for certain roles than others. For example, a quiet, unsociable candidate may not be suited for a sales or customer service role but may be perfectly suited for a role such a programming. Some traits, however, are considered so universally positive that hiring managers may ignore the negative aspects of such traits that could manifest in their candidates after they are hired.
Achieving, for example, is a personality trait that suggests few drawbacks. High achievers are often sought after for being dedicated, ambitious, and dynamic. Yet, have you considered that an exceptionally achieving worker may also be unscrupulous, self-seeking and ruthless in their pursuit of their personal goals? A candidate who already likes to bend the rules and also exhibits the dark aspects of achieving could potentially be an organizational problem.
Candidates who are sociable/outgoing with warm, friendly demeanors may not often be turned away in favor of quiet, less sociable candidates, but every trait has a dark side. These candidates may be excessively talkative, boisterous, or even uninhibited to the point that they are disruptive and tactless.
Here are a few more outwardly positive personality characteristics and their dark alter egos.
· Confident – Arrogant, smug, patronizing
· Bold – Reckless, unprepared, brash
· Assertive – Overbearing, blunt, dominating, forceful. Combine this with confidence and boldness and you are liable to hire a Wolf of Wall Street type.
· Accommodating – Submissive, passive, pushover
· Tenacious – Obstinate, inflexible,
· Disciplined – Fussy, obsessive, dictatorial
· Decisive – Opinionated, impetuous, trigger happy
As shown above with assertive, many of these negative characteristics, when coupled with corresponding traits, may be amplified. A person with a high level of confidence and moderate levels of assertiveness and or boldness may not be an issue, however high levels of each may produce a toxic performer. My earlier post on this subject showed that parting ways with toxic employees, even if ranked in the top 1% for productivity, saved a company more in expense than what the company earned from the superstar’s production.
So, when you are looking to hire your next Jedi, be careful whether you are hiring an individual who wants to destroy the Death Star or who wants to build a Death Star. You may end up with a bold, confident Vader over a bold, confident Luke!