When it comes to hiring, experts say that we hire the right people and not the best people. Yes, the best people may not be the right one for your company. That is the reason why we always look for fit and qualified candidates. They also tell us to watch out for personality, attitude, and motivation. While this is a fundamental basis for every company, this should not be the standard at all.
Why Personality, Attitude, and Motivation Are Flawed
Depending on what theory or exam you took, the answer here differs. There is the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Then there is another exam that would yield results of a Powerful Choleric, Perfect Melancholy, Popular Sanguine, and Peaceful Phlegmatic. Another theory suggests a Big Five Personality Factors: Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Openness to Experience.
Why is this a flaw? Looking for the right personality for a specific job already puts a lot of people at a disadvantage. Personally, I am a natural introvert. Does that mean I am not qualified or fit to be in a marketing position (which requires people to be out-going and friendly)?
Scholarly definitions suggest that attitude consists of a cognitive and affective component that influences us to do the things we do. We have our own beliefs and opinions about something (cognitive) and our emotions are also involved (affective).
Why is this a flaw? Can you honestly tell what a person is thinking or feeling at any given moment? When we say to other people the reason why we do not want to hire this person, “he has a bad attitude.” It does not provide anything concrete. It does not add value. What is bad attitude anyway? If someone tells me I am rude or that I have a bad attitude, guess what my answer would be.
“I’m motivated to work.” or “I am willing to do more work.” – typical answers we hear from the interview question, “Why should we hire you?” It does not really provide us more insights on why we should hire this person.
Why is this a flaw? Most interviewers assume a person is motivated, because they see other stuff in the resume – head of the family, single parent, studying MBA. Can you honestly tell a person is motivated just by looking at her? During the interview process, will you be able to see the person’s motivation? If I sit around in the office all day just staring at my computer, can you say that I am motivated – even if I am the sole provider of income in my family? This, by the way, cannot be observed during the interview.
Behaviors Are Your Answer
Behaviors, according to Mark Horstman – co-founder of Manager Tools, are either of the following:
• Words you say
• How you say them
• Facial Expressions
• Body Language
• Work Products
The biggest flaw in personalities is that it tells you who you are. I am an introvert. I am doomed for marketing jobs. Does that mean I am confined to accounting work because it does not involve dealing with people? I certainly do not think so. However, in behavior, you can choose to behave otherwise when you think about it. If you are a loud person, you do not exhibit that while in church. You modify your behaviors. You do not change who you are.
When someone tells me I am rude, I will answer them, “No, I’m not!” But if someone tells me “when you crossed your elbows, rolled your eyes while she is speaking, and sighed ‘whatever’ during the meeting” (which are all behaviors by the way), I cannot refute them. I did those behaviors. I did not do rudeness. That is impossible!
Lastly, motivation cannot be seen unless you look at behaviors. You say a person is motivated because he exhibited behaviors – arrives to work early, prepares for meetings, and submits reports before deadlines.
Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. We have no way of looking into the future. We definitely cannot look into the candidate’s mind. We are not a good judge of other people as well. So stop making assumptions. Focus on behaviors.