When you go through the interview process for a job, you go to great lengths to demonstrate that your skills are a great match for the position. Common sense, right? What if everything you thought about the hiring process was reversed? Rather than spend time talking to them about your experience, maybe you should spend time on how you think and feel.
People are hired for their experience and skills, but they’re most often fired for not being able to fit into the corporate culture. Mark Murphy, author of Hiring for Attitude, said in a 2012 Forbes interview: “When our research tracked 20,000 new hires, 46% of them failed within 18 months. But even more surprising than the failure rate, was that when new hires failed, 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and only 11% of the time for a lack of skill.”
Skills do matter, of course, but they can be learned. What can’t be learned are things like coping well with stress or being creative. Those are inherent personality traits, and they’re an important part of what makes people successful – and happy – on the job. Brett Goodnough works for Culture Index, a company that has developed a tool to measure an individual’s style, demeanor, character, drive, and energy level. These characteristics, when compared to a company’s profile of what a job requires, can help prevent turnover and help executives manage performance.
The tool is licensed to companies to help them select, hire, manage and promote workers based on fit with the company culture and the job duties. It’s designed, Goodnough says, to reduce the chance of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, always a painful process for both the peg and the hole.
You’ve probably experienced the pain at some point in your career. If you’ve ever been hired into a corporate culture that just wasn’t a fit, you know how miserable you feel. Being the only risk taker in a group of detailed perfectionists, for example, or being the only introvert in a team of strong extroverts could make you dread coming to work every day.
The Culture Index tool is designed to develop a personality profile for specific jobs within the company. Candidates and workers within the company take the index to determine how their personalities line up with the job requirements. Goodnough says that candidates who are a good match for the job profile have an 88 percent success rate. That matches almost exactly the statistic Mark Murphy cites above: attitude is 89 percent of why people succeed or fail at the job.
I took the Culture Index assessment, which is not generally available to the public, to get a feel for how it assesses candidates. The tool asks you to choose terms that describe who you are, and then to choose terms that describe the traits you need to have in order to succeed on the job. (A large gap between the two can indicate how stressful your current job is, since when you’re suppressing your strongest personality traits, your stress level skyrockets.) The profile that emerged pegged me as an independent decision maker with lots of creative ideas. Good with the big picture; better leave the details to other people. (The guys in accounting would heartily agree.)
When you start thinking in terms of personality instead of skills, you start to think about the interview process in a whole new way. Employers can ask behavior-based questions that probe for personality traits, which Goodnough explains are set by the time you’re twelve years old. Candidates can ask about the culture or management style of the team to get a feel for how well they’d fit in.
Next: How to ask about culture.