Hiring the Right Person(ality)

I was once interviewed by a Japanese magazine on the topic of managing creative personalities. Apparently the personal, emotional side of assessing unique personality traits, beyond the basics like trust and tangible skills, was a foreign concept in their business culture.

For me, it’s the first thing I talk about when working with my HR team. We discuss the importance of hiring a creative thinker driven by curiosity, the value of the person having a wide range of interests beyond the role, and the ability for a candidate to merge their own views and ideas with the business. I want someone who makes the brand better through their uniqueness and I want them to push the team—including me.

Finding this type of personality upfront could mean testing, like Meyers-Briggs, to get a better understanding of an individual’s characteristics. Or it might mean the old standby of “going with your gut.” No matter the technique, it has to be driven by the hiring manager, understood by the interviewing team, and defined with the HR representative.

Discussions need to center on the personalities already on the team and what unique traits could augment or improve the group. If one has a quiet and reserved team, what is the likely response (good and bad) to bringing in an outgoing jokester? This is not a thing easily uncovered by an interview, so to prepare properly we try to focus on three things:

1. Don’t try to answer the question “who fits best with my team personality-wise?” Answer the question of “what personality traits will push us to be better?”
2. Be honest with your team members throughout their employment about the value of each of their personalities, including any weaknesses, so they understand when they are evaluating future candidates how certain traits may make sense to add to the team.
3. Let your people be themselves. You didn’t hire them to fit in; you hired them to stand out. Protect their uniqueness.

When we hired for fit and skill alone, we kept hiring. When we shifted to fit, skill, and the want to work with unique talents, we built a consistently stronger team.

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