Unless you’re looking for hard-to-find technicians with narrow expertise, then you can afford to evaluate applicants’ personalities in more depth before you hire them. This doesn’t mean playing amateur psychiatrist. Rather, you can structure the interview process so candidates get a chance to let down their guard and reveal more of themselves. Here’s how:
Stage group meetings. If you’ve got the luxury of sifting through dozens of qualified applicants for an opening, don’t just hold a boring succession of one-on-one interviews. After your initial screening round, invite six or seven promising candidates to attend a “group interview.” Ask them to give a one-minute speech on “My Dream Job,” “My Proudest Moment” or “My Hardest Fight.”
The benefit of assembling the group together is that you can see how they relate to others, especially to competitors who covet the same prize. You’ll also get a sense of their poise and ability to express themselves extemporaneously.
Apply the PAL formula. Before you begin the hiring process, decide whether you want someone who’s passive, active or a leader. (Don’t assume you always want leaders; a surprising number of positions are best filled by relatively pliant personalities who take orders well.)
Once you’ve identified the appropriate category, then ask questions that help you classify the candidate accurately. Examples: Can you describe an experience where you exhibited skills? What kind of bosses have you admired most from your experience? Also ask references to categorize the candidate using the PAL formula.
Clone winners. Study the personality of the stars within your organization, and hire people who share the same characteristics. By first listing the key attributes that your most productive employees exhibit—and then framing your interview questions to see whether applicants possess the same attributes—you can infuse your company with the kind of people who thrive in that environment.