How to Check a Job Candidate’s Personality

September 28th, 2009 by lewis

Nick Corcodilos asks: “Managers, how do you check a candidate’s personality?” Interestingly enough, several posters mention personality tests. Here are ways to check without using personality tests:

Behavioral interview questions
For those of you who aren’t familiar, behavioral interview questions “asks candidates to recall specific instances where they were faced with a set of circumstances.” Here are a few examples from Wikipedia:
  • “Tell me about a project you worked on where the requirements changed midstream. What did you do?”
  • “Tell me about a time when you took the lead on a project. What did you do?”
  • “Describe the worst project you worked on.”
A single behavioral interview question can reveal a candidate’s personality. During a recent interview, I asked a candidate about his work, using the behavioral interview question technique. From his response, I deduced that he has had difficulty influencing others, can give up easily, and usually gets comfortable with the status quo.
Reference checks
References are a great way to verify a job seeker’s personality. Yes, references can be coached. However, I’ve found that most references aren’t coached, and those that are coached aren’t coached well. Contrary to popular opinion, references (even those that a candidate nominates) can be truthful. Straightforward questions like, “What’s his or her biggest weakness?” can offer surprising insights into a candidate’s personality.

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One Response to “How to Check a Job Candidate’s Personality”

  1. September 28, 2009 at 11:44 am, Kris said:

    These are great questions. Thanks for the list!

    When to ask them seems to be the tough part. A lot of time you can measure the personality of a candidate based on the way they approach a conversation compared to a resume. What's costly is checking that personality late in the interview game.

    We've found that if you can somehow analyze the personality (and then culture fit) earlier in the process, the cost-per-candidate can be reduced pretty quickly.

    Anyways, we're really interested in this part of the interview process, and our product VoiceScreener tries really hard to help recruiters in this area.

    Thanks again!