Chances are, if you’re on any kind of social media platform, you’ll have come across a personality quiz at some point.
You know the ones I mean – an online questionnaire with an intriguing heading: ‘Your Personality Type In 20 Questions!’ A bit like Hogwarts’ sorting cap, they promise to place you in a category – this type of person, or that.
As humans, we’re drawn towards explanations for our behaviour; it’s understandable that we want to learn a little bit more about who we are and what makes us tick. Knowing ourselves – strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, blind spots – is powerful stuff.
And in a recruitment scenario? It’s more than powerful – it’s essential.
You see, there’s a dangerous habit in recruitment at all levels, from functional roles to MD and CEO-level. It’s where the person doing the recruiting hires people just like them.
Psychologists have studied our fixation with finding something in common with the person we’re interviewing – where we don’t find it, we unconsciously reject the candidate long before actually saying the words “they’re not for us” in the post-interview discussion.
And where we do find some similarity, we focus on it – often without realising it – until it becomes the most important factor to consider: the fact that they’re like us rather than they’re right for the job. In psychologist-speak, it’s known as unconscious bias.
In our roles as headhunting specialists, we’ve encountered all kinds of businesses and senior teams. And profiling – a more sophisticated, science-based version of those online personality tests with clickable titles – is a critical tool in understanding why a business might be standing still.
When we’re looking for a senior executive for a company, we often begin with psychometrically profiling the rest of the Board or senior team to see the kinds of personalities, skills and gaps already present. And time and time again, we see the same issue: we’re dealing with a senior team that’s essentially made up of clones.
A strong-willed CEO might have overseen the recruitment of several other similarly strong-willed individuals. As we complete our profiling (at Red Diamond, we use an independent profiling company which garners astonishingly accurate results), a dominant personality type emerges: one that’s authoritative, task-orientated and logical.
The CEO has managed to hire a team that looks, psychometrically at least, just like him or her.
‘Where’s the problem?’, you might be tempted to ask. The CEO is obviously successful – why not try to replicate that success by hiring a team that thinks and acts in the same way?
But we all have our foibles and, unfortunately, we’re not always aware of them. A typically ‘strong’ personality type might not have the diplomacy, tact or relationship-building skills needed in, for example, an HR role. Or, arguably, needed to bring some balance to any team.
An effective recruitment process begins long before a candidate walks into an interview. It starts with an analysis of the existing team, skills, knowledge, experience, personality types – and an analysis of any existing gaps. Psychometric profiling is a key part of this process.
From there, we write a comprehensive job description and a carefully considered person specification. It’s only once we truly understand the kind of person the business needs rather than wants – and that the role requires – that we set out to find that individual.
And we remain accountable throughout, reminding the key players of the gaps present in their senior team and the skills, experiences and personality type needed to take their business to the next level.
More often than not, we’re also present at interviews to observe behaviour and dynamics and to challenge and guide. Psychometric testing may be a science, but an exceptional executive search process is more than a clinical, box-ticking exercise: it’s also an art.
Red Diamond’s professional executive search service has supported hundreds of organisations in making critical appointments. You can read some of our client testimonials here – and if you’re looking for a senior executive to complete your team, why not get in touch to schedule a chat?