We hear it all the time: Looks aren’t everything. But personality? That’s a different story. A candidate’s personality will make or break things. However, it isn’t quite that easy.
Personality fit depends on organizational culture. And you can't seek to understand how a job seeker will fit in with the team without first knowing what kind of personalities play well within the company.
The following five qualities are fairly universal among the personality traits that every company says they want in a job seeker and hire.
A job seeker can’t expect to achieve long-term success by lying their way through the interview process. The job seeker has to be honest about their strengths, weaknesses and personal narrative. Transparency is key—and a good recruiter can spot a slippery candidate. If someone isn’t transparent in the interview process, odds are that will only get worse once you’ve hired them.
The job seeker needs to be self-aware. You need to ask questions that probe how self-aware they really are and assess their responses. For example, what do they say are their areas for improvement? Further, throughout the interview process, gauge whether the job seeker has a negative outlook on their job search or their previous company(s), if they display arrogance or humility, and their level of professionalism. Try to identify whether they’re assertive and inspired (great), or overzealous and aggressive (not so great).
Multiple questions can get to the root of what drives a job seeker. What gets them out of bed in the morning? What do they feel most passionate about? What are they most proud of? You can also ask about job history, including why they made different moves and the criteria the job seeker focused on to make those decisions. Their answers should illuminate whether they’re title and/or money-driven. If they’re not able to articulate a clear and concise reasoning for their motivations and moves, this may reflect that they’re trying to hide something, they don’t really know what they are looking for or they aren’t really serious about making a move. This is also about doing your job as a recruiter, however. You need to understand how you will determine what motivates a candidate outside of merely asking them “what motivates you?” Otherwise, you risk getting a lot of stock answers. It also helps to determine motivations during your first conversation with the candidate, because they will have more clarity about the available opportunities when they can see how their motivations align with them.
A core trait of all good co-workers (and good people) is kindness. Nobody enjoys working with jerks and so when we have to work with people who are rude, bring negative attitudes to the office or publicly undermine you in meetings, even showing-up for work can feel unbearable. Push to hire people who understand that their actions have an impact on others and strive to be a great colleague.
Companies want to hire people who communicate well and this takes many forms. Were they able to write a cogent cover letter? Can the job seeker tell their story in an articulate manner? Do they ask good questions? Are they responsive to communications pertaining to the job search itself, following-up when they’re expected to and doing so in a professional tone and manner? Can they write a personalized note that recaps details from the interview and how/why they are interested in the opportunity? Strong, proactive communicators are essential to success in all organizations. Sniffing out those that are not early, will avoid a lot of headaches down the line.
In the end, it’s your job to educate the job seeker at all phases of the hiring process and set them up for success.