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5 Psychology-Backed Techniques
That Will Help You Find the Right Talent
Choosing the right talent for your organization can be immeasurably rewarding. Choosing the wrong talent, however, can cripple your organization.
Various studies have shown that having the wrong people (nasty, lazy or incompetent) can negatively impact performance in your organization. In fact, one study found that having just one slacker in a group can reduce team performance by up to 40 percent. It isn’t difficult to imagine the damage that could be caused by having many slackers in a group.
Another study of 1,700 people in the healthcare industry found that 53 percent of employees are concerned about a peer’s competence and 75 percent of employees are concerned about a peer’s poor teamwork.
As the CEO of a growing startup and as someone who has ran multiple companies, I've learned to refine my hiring approach based on psychology-backed principles.
These five psychology-backed techniques will help you find qualified talent for your organization:
Find Out a Potential Hire’s Grit Level
If you were asked what the biggest determinant factor for success in life is, what will your answer be? Surely it must be talent or IQ? Social intelligence? Good looks? Physical health? Or, oh, a glossy certificate?
According to Angela Duckworth, professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, grit is the greatest predictor of success. In fact, her research found that grit influences success over intelligence, leadership ability or physical fitness. More importantly, Duckworth found that being smart can be counterintuitive, as smart people were found to have less grit than peers who scored lower on an intelligence test.
When hiring, you want to have people with a “can do” attitude on your team. Not necessarily the smartest people with the glossiest resume. You want people who are determined to achieve set goals, no matter what. You want to recruit for potential instead of credentials. So it is very important to make grit one of the factors you consider in potential hires.
The tricky thing, however, is knowing how much grit someone you only know from an interview session has. The solution: have them take the grit test a group of psychologists created to measure grit level.
Conscientiousness Still Matters a Great Deal
Another factor you want to look out for in a candidate you’re contemplating hiring is conscientiousness.
Simply put, conscientiousness is a personality trait that influences someone to be thorough, careful and vigilant. Conscientious employees are more likely to accomplish goals, behave less impulsively and care about other members of the team. Not only does this factor make them more committed to the goals of your organization, it also increases their chances of being a team player.
A host of studies have been conducted that establish the role conscientiousness plays in job success. In fact, a study by the American Psychological Association found that conscientiousness is the greatest predictor of success in sales reps. Other studies have established that conscientious people live longer, have fewer health problems and eventually enjoy higher salaries. This is because conscientious people are highly organized and responsible, they are achievement oriented, they are responsible and they are very good at controlling their impulses - all traits you want in an employee.
Ensure Your Potential Hire is Emotionally Healthy and Stable
For a very long time, organizations have succeeded in separating the personal lives of employees from their professional lives, but a growing body of research has shown that the personal stability - specifically, emotional health - of your employees can impact their work performance.
In fact, a 2003 study found that emotional stability is the second most important trait to look for when hiring a candidate. Specifically, you want to look for candidates with a low neuroticism score.
An emotionally stable candidate will be calm, relaxed, even-tempered and able to deal with stress without exploding. These traits will eventually reflect in the employee's work at your organization.
When interviewing your next candidate, it might be a good idea to get a bit personal; ask questions that can reveal a candidate’s emotional state, and let that influence your decision of who to hire.
Look for Agreeableness in a Candidate
Thanks to revolutionaries like Steve Jobs, we now celebrate the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in square holes.
Being willing to try new things without regards for what others think has definitely helped innovation a great deal, but it’s definitely not the kind of trait you want in an employee - especially if the employee will be a part of a team.
No matter how good an individual candidate is, it is important to realize that the candidate won’t be working in a vacuum. The success of your organization is highly reliant on the effectiveness of your teams and, as indicated earlier in the introduction of this article, research shows that a single wrong team member can reduce team performance by up to 40 percent.
A 1991 study shows that agreeableness is a major predictor of job performance. Agreeableness basically indicates cooperativeness and altruism in a person, and it is especially important when the job you’re recruiting for requires a lot of teamwork.
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Pay Special Attention to “Self-Motivation” in an Employee
At the end of the day, you don’t want to spend all day micromanaging and moving employees like a robot.
Research shows that there is a positive relationship between employee motivation and the effectiveness of an organization, and a study by researchers at the University of Rochester found that success is linked to motivation.
While it is essential to implement measures to motivate and encourage your employees to put their best foot forward, and you definitely want to put a system in place to ensure employee efficiency, it is just as important to ensure you hire employees who are self-motivated.
A self-motivated employee will always take initiative without having to be micromanaged. You don’t want an employee that has to be told all the time to perform his/her tasks; instead, you want an employee who is aware of what to do and that does it without external impetus from you.
About the Author
John Stevens is a regular contributor to Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Adweek and other top publications.