Personality interview questions can help hiring managers understand how a job seeker will add to the team and company culture. You're not out to hire your new best friend, but you need to know how to pick out a solid team player. Strategic questions can benefit both the candidate and the future work environment.
Soft skills are more difficult to assess in the hiring process than hard skills. When candidates come prepared with their A-game, it's not always reflective of personality traits. Unfortunately, there's no written test to score for things like empathy.
So does how personality support company culture and how do personality interview questions help? I'll tell you all that and more below.
How a Candidate's Personality Supports Company Culture
No one wants to work in a sterile work environment where they're treated like work robots.
To get new employees on a successful career path you’ve got to understand their personality traits. When you can acknowledge pet peeves, interests, and things that are going on in their personal life it creates a strong rapport. A good rapport within teams means a more harmonious dynamic company-wide.
In an ExecuSearch report, surveyed professional employees ranked “support from leadership and management” in first place and “strong team rapport” third place as the most important impacts on culture.
Support company culture by:
- Learning each candidate's weaknesses so it becomes more obvious when they're challenging themselves in a new way.
- Celebrate each small win to provide recognition and fulfillment for teammates.
When the team is happy they’re more productive, which creates a healthy culture and employer brand. A great culture leads to success in the way of profitability and loyalty — the proof is in the recruiting metrics.
Why Personality Interview Questions Help
As a leader, understanding how a candidate's personality will meld with your team is critical for productivity and problem-solving within the team.
Personality interview questions help to identify:
- If they're a team player
- What their motivators and stressors are
- How adaptable they are
- Work ethics
- Feedback style
Personality interview questions help when two candidates have the same level of qualifications. The interview questions take into consideration the best candidate according to culture fit.
7 Sample Interview Questions To Reveal the Right Fit
Personality tests or screening software should not replace personality interview questions. They can be generic without the opportunity to drill down for more clarity.
Instead, try asking some of these personality interview questions:
1. Would you describe yourself as more analytical or creative?
This tells you whether the candidate identifies with a rational, logic-based thought process or something more creative and holistic.
Creative candidates are characteristically suited to artistic or unstructured pursuits. Yet, there may be candidates who make excellent project managers because of their unconventional problem-solving.
The same applies to analytical candidates who interview for graphic design work. Maybe their superpower is adhering to deadlines while managing multiple projects.
2. What are your hobbies?
Culture fit isn't about personality traits alone. You can learn interesting things about how a person spends their time.
One candidate might tell you their favorite place is a reading chair with a cup of tea. This might imply they're more introverted, which could help you create a working environment with more solo work that allows them to thrive. Another candidate may unravel at the mere mention of their passion for salsa dancing. This could suggest a bit of a flare as well as good instincts and hand-eye (or foot) coordination.
Great culture means people with a variety of hobbies and interests can thrive, but it’s helpful to know what does (and doesn’t) excite your prospective teammate.
3. Tell me about a time when you were falling short at work. At what stage did you realize it and how did you handle it?
This question can tell you a lot about a candidate. Were they able to vocalize their mistake or concern? Did they cover it up and hope for the best? The second part of the question can showcase workplace maturity. You can also learn about their thought process and reasoning skills.
How did they realize that they needed to change their strategy and how did they go about sharing that revelation with co-workers?
Candidates who focus on a failure to achieve the deadline are results-oriented.
Candidates who pivot their game plan and see that as a type of victory might be more comfortable with the failure involved in innovating.
4. What's one personality trait that you're proud of?
I like this question more than, “What are your biggest strengths?” People tell me things that they like about me here and there but that doesn't mean that I identify with them. Taking pride in a personality trait means that there's some connection to your motivators. It links the personal life and professional life together because we aren't talking about hard skills.
If the candidate presents a hard skill instead of a personality trait, it could signal that they might be lacking in the self-awareness or self-esteem department. No answer provided is also a red flag.
While there are technically no wrong answers, you’ll want to add someone to the team who can confidently identify one trait that they're proud of.
5. What motivates you in your current job?
I like to keep questions trending to the positive but if the candidate takes it to a negative place or it triggers a rant, it could be a red flag. Even if a candidate is unhappy in their current job, having the self-awareness to detect when something is even minutely motivating can be interesting to dig into.
Here are good examples of motivators:
- A predictable routine (work/life balance)
- Job security
- Engaged and intentional feedback
These are all categories to listen for and take note of so that if you do end up hiring the candidate, you'll know just exactly what they need to feel successful in their new job.
6. What's one personality trait of yours that needs some improvement?
This is a classic test of self-awareness and authenticity in equal measure. Something to consider might be how quickly they answer this question. If they have it prepared it could point to a more rehearsed answer. Rehearsed answers aren't terrible but it can be difficult to assess their merit if they're reading off of a script in their head.
7. Why is it important to this new job to improve this personality trait?
Here's the curveball they weren't expecting even if they had rehearsed their previous answer.
This one will require a bit of thought and will also let you know how closely they read the job description. Alternatively, maybe they read the job description but don't understand the focus and responsibilities of the role. In this case, it's good to consider so that you can clarify the role and confirm their interest before making your final hiring decision.
The Right Personality Questions Help Support Cultural Fit
Take the time to know potential candidates through personality interview questions. This will support a more intentional work environment. While you hope for authentic answers from candidates, hiring managers and recruiters need to be honest, too. It’s one of seven interviewing skills that you’ll want to work on mastering.
If you learn more about their motivators and personality traits and decide it’s not a good fit, share the reasons why the role doesn’t support the candidate’s preferences with direct interview feedback.
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