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How To Cater For Personality Types When Hiring Employees

By Ken Sundheim
14 Comments

A different hiring process is going to unfold each time you need to bring a new employee on board. One of the most crucial things to consider is the personality type you can manage best.

As someone who is 30 years old and owns a fast-growing business, I have had only one other job out of college in which I was not a manager of some form. Therefore, I’ve learned by mistakes and still do every day.

While many simply associate the job of a manager or leader with a bigger paycheck and a job that is more mentally engaging, those who do so are (just like I was at 25), very off base.

I don’t think there is a certain personality type that fits everybody. Entrepreneurs and managers alike have to understand that an employee, regardless of what you’re paying him or her, is a foundation that with the manager’s help can either become a skyscraper or an undeveloped lot.

The hiring manager has to determine what personality foundation best suits him or her for building on. What background and personality type can that manager leverage to build a “skyscraper”.

Don’t Hire Based On Paper

Over the years, my biggest internal hiring mistake was hiring people solely based on their background and educational credentials.

As a kid from Fordham University with an okay GPA, I thought it was cool to have employees from Columbia, UVA and NYU who graduated with honors.

For a small business, that policy turned out to be a bust. As a manager, you want people who are willing. I will take someone half as effortlessly talented and turn them into three times the producer if they care, are engaged and want to learn.

I just don’t have time for people who fight growth and fight learning, whether because they believe there is only one way to grow (such as academically), or because they feel they have already finished with their learning, or for any other reason.

You want to find people who are going to respect your work and your authority as a boss. The secret to successful management is staying away from the Sirens when recruiting. These are the people too concerned with themselves to ever make a true impact by giving 110%. Unfortunately for many these are too hard to spot until you’re in mid-dive off of the boat. Time, patience and consistent learning will help any manager spot these individuals from a mile away.

Despite the fact that you will have to figure out (probably through trial and error) the personality type and background that you manage best, and whom you can best help progress in a career, there are definitely a handful of tried-and-true rules to apply across the board when hiring.

Don’t Hire Someone Who Is Passive In Nature

Think A-type personalities. Anything less will drive you nuts when attempting to achieve goals, regardless of the person’s position in your company or your team.

That is not to say that every hire you make must be a metaphorical pitbull: not everyone comes across as relentless, and that’s a good thing. But thoughtful, introverted hard workers come across very differently in an interview process to people who will be content putting in an average-level effort and just going with the flow, rather than ever contributing above and beyond.

Hire Someone Who Is Interested In Your Company and Industry

I used to hire theatre graduates as interns years ago. They drove me up the wall. We were a recruiting firm and it sucked the air out of the room (we worked out of an apartment) when there was audition talk.

Complainers are very difficult to deal with as well. I tell my clients to stay away. The best way to spot these individuals is that these are job seekers who will negotiate the smallest, most trivial aspects of their offer.

Even if they are good, hard negotiation prior to coming on to a job (unless you are at the C-level) shows that they are your typical complainer and fail to have empathy for the plight of a leader or manager.

Empathize With Your Employees

It is best that you begin to understand the mentality of employees. This is a steep learning curve for many entrepreneurs and failure to do so can result in a consistent turnover rate, which only stagnates a company.

Employees think differently than entrepreneurs and, although they like upward mobility, they cherish stability, a good paycheck and respect from their boss. As an entrepreneur, you must understand that employees are not going to get as excited about your business as you and this is something that you will have to deal with.

I have made as many mistakes with employees as times I have been correct. True leadership is learning from your mistakes and doing your best to have nothing short of pure empathy for your employees.

As a leader, understand that you work for your employees just as much as they work for you. Treat them with respect and take it as your responsibility to grow them as both individuals and employees of your company.

A Rule Of Thumb

If a potential employee’s personality doesn’t mesh with yours, then you should probably stay away from them, especially during the start-up phase when you have daily involvement with them. Job seekers who have a type of demeanor that clashes with yours – whether good or bad workers – should be avoided.

Not every date turns into marriage, but that doesn’t mean that you should continue dating the same type of people if it doesn’t work out.

Follow the above rules and you’ll have a growing business with loyal, effective and happy employees.

Ken Sundheim

About Ken Sundheim

At age 25, Ken Sundheim started KAS Placement Recruitment and Staffing from a studio apartment in New York. With no industry experience nor contacts, Ken learned the staffing business out of a book. KAS Placement now has two offices and is currently nominated as America's Most Promising Companies in 2012 by Forbes Magazine. Ken has previously contributed to NYTimes.com, WSJ.com, USAToday.com, Forbes and many more. You can read more at kensundheim.com.

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14 Comments

  • The sad thing is that a lot of online entrepreneurs are probably going to read this and think it does not apply to them. And it does. Online entrepreneurs hire people everyday: freelancers, virtual assistants, developers… and these tips can really be of great help if put into practice.

    As a freelance writer, I have had to hire other writers and you are so right, those with passive personalities practically frustrate me. On the flip side though, my best working experience was for a client who gave me extra days to complete a project because I had just had a baby. Not many clients would have been that understanding. Empathizing with employees is too important to neglect.

    Thanks for this article Ken.

    • AGREED Sharon! Passive personalities can be difficult to work with especially in writing and content marketing, two fields that heavily rely on constructive criticisms . You never want an employee who settles or is easily satisfied. There is no settling for anything less than best in our line of work. You should checkout The Dotted Line (http://www.facebook.com/TDLine), it’s an awesome community full of passionate business minded people like you. I think you’d like it. By the way, great post Ken! Thanks for sharing!

      • Thank you Jerry; I checked out the page and it seems to be a wonderful community. The tips and business advice there alone are great quality. Thanks!

        • Thank you for your reply and I’m glad you liked it Sharon! I look forward to more of your comments and insight. Thanks again! –Jerry

  • I agree Ken, Having been in management for many years I know that what is on paper is not what the person is about. I always rely on my own intuitive abilities when hiring someone.

  • Hi Ken, you’re touched on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. Unlike you, who has worked at 2 jobs, I have worked for nearly 20 years as a contractor/consultant and in that time, have worked for over a dozen different companies. That said, one thing we do share in common is the understanding that nothing compares to an employee who is a *good fit*. I have studied this in depth over the years and actively conduct personality workshops for clients – including several branches of the Ontario government. There are 4 basic personality types. No matter which personality analysis you have done (I have done several), they will all break it down to 4 basic personality types. I don’t believe that, saying one should hire an A personality type is necessarily the right advice. It really depends on what is needed in the role. There is no right or wrong personality type, only the right fit for the role. All 4 personality types are needed as they each have a set of strengths and weaknesses that compliment each other. Where most employers go wrong is in hiring someone they like, who shares similar characteristics to their own self. Why is this wrong? Because it doubles up on the same strengths and weaknesses, leaving a larger void in certain weak areas. There’s a whole process to resolving this that I won’t go into in this comment. Long story short, when your own personality – strengths and weaknesses are known, then it becomes clear which personality types you need to hire to fill the voids.

    What it all comes down to is honouring. When you hire someone into a role that they are naturally suited to (whether that’s a strong team leader, an analytical bookkeeper, etc.) you are honouring them by recognizing and relying on their natural strengths. The result is happier employees with higher productivity and improved job retention. For anyone wanting to learn their own personality profile and understand how to build strong, complete teams, there’s an excellent company that has been doing personality analysis and team building management for companies and individuals across the globe for over 50 years. http://www.PredictiveSuccess.com As a matter of fact, I just took their tests this week and was very impressed with the detailed results they provided. Check them out.

    Thanks for thought-provoking read and the opportunity to post. Have a great week y’al!
    Sally O’

    • Hi Sally,

      Thanks for taking the time to give such a long, well respected response.

      Looks like you’ve been working a lot less than 20yrs. or that you have great stress management by your pic…btw ; ).

  • Thanks for this article Ken. You really brought your experience to bear in this article. Truly our employees are not going to get as excited about your businesses as we do.This understanding will help in the way we relate and deal with employees.

  • Jon

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the post.

    I have been reminded of our interview with Mark Ling last year where he talks about not hiring based on ‘paper’ as you put it. He suggested it took him a while to figure that out and I certainly have the same feeling. Trying to apply some of his ideas on the process this coming year with our news hires … not easy! http://www.ourmanly.com.au/Business/mark_ling_interview_traffic_travis_founder.aspx

    Jon

  • Agree with you on “Don’t hire based on paper.” Sometimes they oversell their skills on their resumes.

    • All prospects dress up their CV and if you hire solely based on a piece of paper you can end up regretting it. It’s definitely a good idea to test and see whether they’re a good fit for your company first before committing to a long term working relationship

  • Great article and there are some really great points. Hiring is so important especially in early stage companies that one wrong hire can derail an entire company. I’ve hired the wrong candidate in the past because I was fooled by their resume, however now before I offer any candidate a role I have them come into the office for half a day and get them to perform some standard tasks, this is to see whether or not they’re a good fit for our company.

    Half the candidates who get through the initial interview drop out at this stage which is excellent, and the only the really good prospects who get through this stage are hired. This method has really reduced employee turnover and I recommend it to anyone who is faced with a hiring decision.

  • I can point out the mistake in this article too many I have seen employer wants A-personality character and yet scrooge type when giving salary, as a result these professional will do no more than what they are being paid off.Yes filtering is good, the idea is what can the Employers/Company can gave them back in return if the growth is potentially significant, hate too say, they want to keep the margin and reluctant to gave bonus, or even share.That’s what I have experienced, an addition with bad office politic and typical kiss my bud attitude from other colleague is wasted.What you should find is a person with Integrity,as a rule of thumb no matter how right you are, you are always wrong because your just a slave, that’s why I am starting my own business instead working in a rat race environment making the employer rich…..

  • You are right about not hiring on the basis of degrees alone. I feel hiring someone for a small to medium business is more like making a new friend. If the person is willing to be your friend and willing to grow with you, then you have the right person on board.

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