Assignment – Personality Personality can be defined as those relatively stable enduring aspects of an individual that distinguish him/her from other people and at the same time form a basis for our predictions concerning his/her future behaviour. (Wright et al cited in Rollinson 2005) This definition represents the view that it is possible to identify an individuals stable and unchanging personality and characteristics, and that if the characteristics are identified they can be used to predict the persons future behaviour.
Organisations differ greatly in their cultures and acceptable behaviours which means that some individuals naturally fit in better than others. (Rollinson 2005:85) Job roles themselves also differ in terms of the suitability of an individual’s personality in being successful in that job role. Therefore in determining the importance of personality at selection interview we need to determine what both the role and the organisation require. (Rollinson 2005:85) In the work environment the “fit” of a person has to be right in terms of skills and experience as well as values and needs. Holbeche: 2002). Person-organisation fit refers to the extent to which individuals and organisations share similar characteristics (personalities) or meet each others needs. The assessment of personality is carried out to determine desirable or un-desirable traits of candidates to assess their suitability for a role and/or organisation (Arthur:2005) Getting this right can lead to job satisfaction and organisational commitment. (Kristoff:2000) When an employer is recruiting the psychological contract has some importance.
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The psychological contract implies a series of mutual expectations and satisfaction needs arising from the P-O relationship (Mullins:2010) P-O fit is likely to be more important than P-J fit in satisfying the psychological contract (Morley:2007) in that employees will be required to adapt to changes in tasks and gain new skills. It is argued that greater emphasis should be placed on the P-O fit as opposed to the more traditional method of P-J fit because firstly individuals will hold several roles within an organisation therefore their P-O is more important than the possibly less lexible P-J fit, they will hold the organisations values and culture closer and will have longer service therefore lowering recruitment costs. (Ree and Earles 1992) Secondly the changing nature of work requires individuals to be better at teamwork and more flexible. I believe that when recruiting graduates P-O fit is more important as opposed to P-J fit. Graduates are recruited to provide organisations with a potential pool of future managers and enhance succession possibilities. Morley:2007) Graduates have little experience in the work environment so are less able to translate their skills, qualifications and experience into the working world. If an employer has a clear understanding of their organisations culture, personalities of other employees and can accurately determine the personalities and beliefs of the graduate they can base their decision on the graduates enthusiasm, motivation and eagerness to work rather than skills, qualifications and experience.
In a study by Wheeler et al (cited in Rollinson 2005) it was found that job satisfaction could be increased by increasing P-O fit, that is recruiting employees with similar values to the organisation. However, Wheeler also found that even though an ill-fitting individual resulted in job dissatisfaction, they would not leave the organisation unless suitable alternative work presented itself. This could lead to them being de-motivated, having poor performance and impact on relationships with colleagues.
This shows the importance of getting personality right at selection interview. Person-job (P-J) fit refers to the correlation between the individual’s skills, qualifications and experience with the requirements of a job. (Edwards:1991) and is a traditional method of employee selection (Werbell and Gilliland:1999) P-J fit is most widely determined through proof of an individuals skills, qualifications and experience through certificates and references and questioning around their knowledge on a topic.
I have personally heard colleagues question the importance of personality on some roles such as accountants which would initially strike you as being weighted heavily on their skills, experience and qualifications however how well would an accountant perform if they did not have the personality traits to communicate effectively with colleagues and customers? Differing roles do also require different personalities in order to be successful irrespective of the organisation. Receptionists, sales person or customer service representative require the ability to cope with stress and deal with individuals with differing priorities. Gatewood et al:2005) In considering the importance of personality in selection interview it would be sensible to consider how stable and unchanging a person’s personality is. Are we seeing a current snapshot of the individuals personality or will it change overtime? Rollinson (2005) writes that if personality is an ongoing developing process it would be almost impossible to develop valid ways to measure it and would be pointless in attempting to predict future behaviour.
Idiographic, one of the two major theories on personality, focuses on personality developing and changing as a result of ongoing experiences. However, Costa and McCrae (1992) wrote that personality is relatively stable after the age of 30 therefore using personality in making selection decisions would be possible due to the stability of personality. Looking at Nomotheic theory, the other of the two major theories of personality, which assumes personality is stable and un-changing, it was noted that there are 5 distinct differences between people known as the Big Five and often referred to as OCEAN.
These are: • Openness (perceptive, sophisticated, knowledgeable, cultured, artistic, curious, analytical, liberal traits) • Conscientiousness (practical, cautious, serious, reliable, organised, careful, dependable, hard-working, ambitious traits) • Extraversion (sociable, talkative, active, spontaneous, adventurous, person-orientated, assertive traits) • Agreeableness (warm, trustful, courteous, agreeable, cooperative traits) • Neuroticism (emotional, anxious, depressive, self-conscious, worrying traits) The Big Five can be split into type theory and trait theory.
Mullins cites Hans Eyesneck work in which he identified four main personality types. These are stable extraverts,(talkative, responsive, easygoing, lively carefree) unstable extraverts,(impulsive, changeable, excitable, restless) stable introverts (calm, even-tempered, peaceful, thoughtful) and unstable introverts. (anxious, moody, reserved, pessimistic) Mullins writes that if managers can predict future behaviours through an individual’s personality type then it is not surprising that psychometric tests to measure personality are growing in popularity.
Trait theory is then broken down again into surface traits (those which are observable) and source traits (which can only be inferred) In theory surface traits could be observed through assessment centres. Mullins writes that the Big Five form the basis of standard personality questionnaires and of these five conscientiousness has the highest link with high levels of job knowledge and performance across a range of occupations.
So, according to this, it would be beneficial to an organisation to determine candidate’s personality in order to recruit an individual who has a good score in conscientiousness. However, Maltby et al (2010) writes that if we were to employ the conscientious person with their practical, cautious, serious, reliable, organized, careful, dependable, hard-working and ambitious traits, would they be suitable for a role requiring innovation and creativity and are they flexible and adaptable to cope with the rapidly changing world of work?
He questions the applicability of conscientiousness across all job roles. In considering the impact of personality on our relationship at work with colleagues I believe that emotional intelligence has a strong link with aligning personality with successful performance and relationships at work. Emotional Intelligence is defined as a person’s ability to manage themselves as well as their relationship with others so that they can live their intentions (Adele:2008:7) and can be broken down into five specific areas.
These are Self awareness, empathy, social expertness, personal influence and mastery of purpose and vision. Each of these areas could have an impact on our relationships with colleagues. Self awareness is an understanding of how our behaviours or words affect others. If we have self awareness we are able to apply self control to change our actions should they be having a negative effect on colleagues. A self aware individual would know when their mood is impacting on others and alter it accordingly.
Self awareness is an area looked for in the emotional intelligence of sales people and interview questioning based around the impact of previous experience of their positive and negative impacts on co-workers would be useful in identifying this area. (Adele 2008:17) Empathy is an understanding of others feelings and perspective and the ability to experience what someone else is feeling therefore giving a better understanding of our colleagues. It is the ability to respectfully listen rather than listening to refute or build our own case.
A customer service representative who empathises with an irate customer rather than just demanding their account number will better diffuse a volatile situation. (Adele 2008:54) Marshall Goldsmith (“The world authority in helping successful leaders get even better”) described not listening as the most passive-aggressive form of disrespect shown to colleagues. Social expertness is the building of social bonds which allow us to work with others, share thoughts and ideas, build trust and resolve conflict. The reason that top executives fail is because of their failure to build interpersonal relationships rather than their technical competence.
Personal influence is our ability to influence other towards goals or missions and to influence ourselves in taking initiative and displaying confidence. A recruiting manager would be looking for signs at interview that a candidate can prove they have got people to previously follow them irrespective of their differing levels. Mastery of purpose and vision is our ability to understand what our purpose is and therefore determine what types of emotions help us to live our life purpose. It allows us to manage our emotions and relationships.
This is also the determining factor as to whether the organization and role is “fit” for us. Interview questions based around a candidate’s worst and ideal job as well as what inspires and bores them at work can help identify the “fit” of an individual’s personal purpose to an organization. (Adele:2008:131) Candidates demonstrating emotional intelligence at interview take responsibility for their actions rather than blaming others or playing the victim. (Adele:2008:146) Studies carried out by Grimsley and Jarrett (cited in Adele:2008) concluded that managers displaying higher emotional intelligence were more successful.
Anderson and Shackleton (1993) carried out a study on the comparison of the strength of different variables in predicting eventual job performance at the point of selection. Their findings show that personality assessments have a 0. 38 correlation, intelligence a 0. 54 correlation, and structured interview 0. 62. Previous experience and the CV came in lower than all these at 0. 18 and 0. 37 respectively. (0. 1 being small, 0. 3 being medium and 0. 5 being large correlation) Showing in this study that personality assessment has an important role in predicting job performance, above that of the CV and previous experience. Maltby et al 2010) When putting the theory of personality into practice within the work environment, organisations must be clear on why they are assessing personality and what personality characteristics they are they are looking for. (Torrington et al:2011) A clear job description and person specification which requires skills, qualifications, experience and personality traits relevant to the job role is key, according to the CIPD, in creating a fair selection process.
Should an applicant who is unsuccessful in being selected for interview threaten or indeed commence tribunal proceedings, the organization has a clear framework on how selection for interview and employment was made. Torrington et al also write that a method of defining the person specification is to focus on the characteristics or competences of individuals who have previously performed best in the role. This has positives in that these characteristics are producing individuals who perform well for the business however this method could produce employees who are very similar to one another and address problems with the same mindset.
Personality questionnaires are based on the Nomotheic theory that personality is stable and unchanging. The most recognized personality questionnaire is the Myers Biggs Type Indicator (MBTI) based on the theories of Carl Jung. The questionnaire is developed on the understanding that it is of benefit to people to recognise their individual personality types, and how these differ from those of other individuals. The MBTI is an untimed questionnaire which asks respondents to choose between two opposing courses of action, or two words, depending on what they feel is closest to their natural preference.
The MBTI measures 4 preferences Extraversion or Introversion, Sensing or Intuition, Thinking or Feeling and Judging or Perceiving. People’s four preferences classify them into one of 16 types. Descriptions are given of the characteristics of people of each of the 16 types. Each type is described as having positive qualities and strengths, as well as possible development needs. The questionnaire receives 4 stars from the Psychological testing centre. (The British Psychological Society:2011) An employer using MBTI can use the information given on the individual’s type to further question them at selection interview.
Toplis et al (1997) have concerns that the lack of involvement of psychologists in marketing and selling personality testing packages results in too many tests being released for general use without the required intellectual support. He is also troubled by the increasing use of computer-based tests, particularly to score and interpret results, believing that the accuracy of some systems is not particularly high. Personality assessment is based on the belief that certain roles require particular personality and that tests can identify them.
The use of ability tests and competence based interviewing as opposed to personality tests are more easily defendable in an employment tribunal due to the tangible results being right or wrong whereas with personality tests there are no right or wrong answers and are not as easily defendable should the need arise. There are questions over their validity in so much as practitioners can be trained with a basic knowledge of administering tests and interpreting their results. The British Psychology Society give an overall rating for validity and objectivity of tests.
There is the argument that candidates may be able to manipulate their results to perform in a way they believe the employer requires. (Furnham:1990) therefore invalidating the results and potentially basing a recruitment decision on in-accurate information. In my experience this is where the face to face interview is of vale in verifying and questioning further the results of any personality testing. i. e. Do the results of the personality testing match the behaviours and characteristics of the person sat in front of me? Recruiters may be influenced by striking characteristics or similarities to themselves called the Halo Effect.
The Halo Effect can be defined as a cognitive bias whereby the perception of one trait (i. e. a characteristic of a person or object) is influenced by the perception of another trait (or several traits) of that person or object. (Mullins 2011) An example would be judging a good-looking person as more intelligent. The Halo Effect can have a positive or negative effect. For example, someone who attended the same college or university as the recruiter could be at an advantage but someone who attended a college or university the interviewer perceives to have a poor reputation could put the candidate at a dis-advantage.
Solomon Asch (1945) carried out a study that discovered that the presence of one trait often implies the existence of other additional traits and that certain traits can be characterized as central traits. For example, an individual described as warm is perceived to have positive traits such as happy and generous. An individual described as the cold would have the opposite perceived traits. Another example is when individuals believe that a happy person is also friendly or that quiet people are timid. On the other hand, people who are irritable may be seen as in disarray in their daily life.
Therefore, people assume other individuals’ personalities are in doubt using little information. It is often the case that people judge more favourably those individuals with whom they have something in common. An experiment carried out at the Penn State College of Medicine asked 35 interviewers and 135 interviewees to complete the MBTI. The results were not shared prior to face to face interview. The experiment concluded that there was a significant association between similarities in personality type and the rankings that individual interviewers assigned to each interviewee.
In this circumstance it is important to be mindful of the effect an individuals personality may have on the outcome of the interview. Employing more than one selection tool does not eradicate the possibility of recruiting an unsuitable candidates. The use of personality data in the selection process, when gathered appropriately, can be valid information in making a contribution to the selection decision however it should not be used in isolation. Personality tests results can be used at interview for the basis of further investigation into applicant abilities.
Skills, experience and qualifications are important criterion. Dependent on the role and organisation for which selection is being made will determine the weighting placed on each. If using any form of testing in the selection process employers need to pre-determine the worth of testing and weigh up the benefits, such as increased productivity, with the cost including purchasing a reliable and validated resource and training recruiting managers to correctly interpret reports.
There is, therefore, in my opinion an importance to be placed on personality at selection interview which for me slightly outweighs the importance of skills, qualifications and experience especially when considering the knock on effect that a mismatch of person-job or person-organisation could have on the relationship with colleagues. An organization needs to be clear in what personality traits they are looking for before even advertising a role as the wording of an advertisement could attract and alienate certain personalities.
Once at selection interview, managers should consider how they are fairly going to assess personality if using their own judgment. Do they have a fail safe scoring system to measure personality against that cannot back-fire in the event of an employment tribunal? Thought should also be given to how a candidate has completed any personality test i. e. to what extent have they thought about themselves in the work situation when completing it? Are they naturally nervous when asked to complete any test and therefore put at a dis-advantage? If personality is un-stable and changes over time, would it be wise to re-test individuals?
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