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!
According to the volume of content on the blogs and news sites I frequent, becoming successful and a leader must be the two most sought after goals in humanity. Every week I see the same content rehashed over and over. “Seven way to be successful”, “Nine traits of a successful leader”, “Ten of the most successful CEOs share their ten traits on successfully leading yourself to success.” That’s a bit overdone but you understand my point. Continue reading “Personality and Success: What Trait Leads You To The Top?” »
The argument continues over whether employers should hire for cultural fit or for skills. Many say skills because hiring for cultural fit inevitably gives way to discrimination. Others say hire for cultural fit because poor cultural fit leads to employee turnover and the high costs associated with it. Lately I see more and more articles pointing to the significance of hiring for cultural fit over talent. This recent sports story highlights how highly we value cohesion in the workplace. Continue reading “What Matters Most To Your Team, Talent or Personality?” »
Of course you need skills to get considered for employment but to land a job one could argue they aren’t nearly as important as you think. Cosmetics giant L’Oreal recently began assessing sales people for emotional intelligence (EQ) during their hiring process. They found that those with a high EQ score outsold their peers by $90,000. Additionally turnover among those with high EQ scores was 63% less than those hired through traditional methods.
Naturally I’m sure the final pool of people from which L’Oreal chose their next sales person all had prior sales experience. Can we not deduct from this case study though that the most experienced candidates didn’t always get the job and that someone who had less experience but a high EQ score did?
Beyond the EQ score used in hiring, we find further evidence that a high level of skills is not the determining factor for employment. Business Insider recently ran an article featuring the favorite interview question of 9 CEOs. I have included the questions below and ask for you to tell me how many of them relate directly to someone’s skills.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you?” Tony Hsieh, CEO – Zappos
“Tell me about the time you realized you had the power to do something meaningful.” Simon Anderson, CEO – Dreamhost
“How would you describe yourself in one word?” Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO – YWCA
“What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?” Ashley Morris, CEO – Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop
“Tell me about the last person you fired.” Marc Barros, CEO – Contour
“Tell me about your failures.” Jenny Ming, CEO – Charlotte Russe
“What was the last costume you wore?” Dave Gilboa & Neil Blumenthal, CEOs – Warby Parker
“Tell me about your crowning achievement.” Lou Adler, CEO – The Adler Group
“Tell me about your last project. Who was involved and what was the biggest challenge?” Jane Eggers, CEO – Spreadshirt
I suppose that while detailing how one would survive a zombie apocalypse a job candidate might list the skills necessary to ensure their survival but sandwich making and customer service is probably not one of them.
Many of the questions above have no right or wrong answer. They are asked simply to learn more about the candidate’s personality and potential cultural fit, not their skills.
Moving on, a three year study conducted by LeadershipIQ involving thousands of hiring managers and employees revealed that of the 46% that failed within the first 18 months of being hired, 89% failed for attitudinal reasons, not for skills.
So here’s my question to you the hiring manager. If higher emotional intelligence leads to greater performance and less turnover and if 46% of employees fail within the first 18 months because of their attitude and not skills, how are you going to evaluate your job candidates going forward?
Here’s my question to you the job candidate. If higher emotional intelligence leads to greater performance and less turnover and if 46% of employees fail within the first 18 months because of their attitude and not skills, how are you going to answer questions during your next job interview?