How Personal Should Employers Get with Their Candidates?

The old saying “looks aren’t everything” means that a person’s personality traits are also important. While employers aren’t allowed to discriminate against candidates based on looks (even though some do,) many are now adding personality to the list of qualities that a candidate must possess in order to get hired. The thinking behind this trend is that, while the candidate can perform the role competently and has a demonstrated history of being able to do so, will he or she fit in? Will he or she jibe with other employees? Is the candidate likely to jump right in and get to know the team or will he or she be reserved?

SEE MORE: How to Keep Bias Out of Interviews

How Personality Affects the Workplace

Personality in the workplace can do a lot, both positive and negative. Someone with an introverted personality may bring down a team of extroverts, while someone with an extroverted personality may be a distraction in a group of introverts. Morale can then be affected, and with that, productivity may be lost. As productivity drops, so does your company’s bottom line. Then, human resources may need to get involved and feelings may be hurt all around. By this point, the employee may have to be let go, and the individual who interviewed the candidate and/or made the final hiring decision may also find themselves in hot water due to their decision.

How Personal Should You Get During the Interview?

One of the biggest challenges to adding personality to the mix in an interview is how personal should you get. There’s a fine line between asking professional questions and digging too deep. A candidate who feels that you are being too intrusive may clam up or even get up and leave. Also, think about how you’re getting your information.

If you simply ask a candidate questions like, “Do you make friends easily?” he or she may just tell you what you want to hear: yes. But, what you need to gauge is how the candidate makes you feel. Do you feel like becoming friends with the candidate? Does he or she come across as genuinely friendly? The real test is not in the repetition of canned answers; it’s in the demonstration of the answers.

Is Personality Everything?

As mentioned earlier, personality is certainly an important part of who a person is, but don’t let it be the only thing you experience about the candidate. Even with the most winning personality, if the candidate can’t perform the work or doesn’t seem like he or she can learn the skills necessary to do the work, then all the charm in the world won’t help. Yes, concentrate on the personality as a key selling point, but don’t let it blind you. Use traditional interviewing techniques and criteria to figure out if the candidate is someone you want to hang out with or whether he or she is someone with whom you want to work.

In addition to personality and skills, what else should employers analyze during interviews in order give them a better idea of a candidate’s fit for their organization?

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