Article: 6 recruitment pitfalls to watch out for: Insights from Thomas International

Talent Acquisition

6 recruitment pitfalls to watch out for: Insights from Thomas International

From technological advancement to the global pandemic and subsequent shifts in employee expectations, the new normal requires firms to hire for potential.
6 recruitment pitfalls to watch out for: Insights from Thomas International


Furlough schemes. Rising unemployment. Record vacancy numbers. The pandemic wreaked havoc on the recruitment industry. A quick glance at the numbers reveals why firms are no longer recruiting only for the experience, but potential:

  • In 2021, LinkedIn job postings advertising skills and responsibilities, instead of qualifications and requirements, increased by 21%
  • The World Economic Forum estimates that more than half of workers globally require significant reskilling

Today’s skill sets will be obsolete tomorrow, but personality has consistently been found to be a reliable predictor of professional success (Salgado, 2003, Fudge, 2008, Schmidt, 2016).

From technological advancement to the global pandemic and subsequent shifts in employee expectations, the new normal requires firms to hire for potential. Amid strong competition, HR and Recruitment Managers must move quickly to secure top talent.

The following six personality traits are typical derailers of success at work. Assessing candidates against them will give you a clear indication of their potential to succeed in any role you may be recruiting for. 

1.     Low conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is characterised by self-discipline, organisation and impulse control. Research shows that conscientiousness is predictive of job success across all industries and markers of success (Barrick, 2001, Sutin, 2009). People who are disciplined in their professional lives and motivated to work hard are more likely to succeed.

How can you recruit for conscientiousness?

Conscientiousness is one of the five traits that comprise the most widely accepted model of personality, the ‘Five Factor’ model. However, it is often not just conscientiousness but speed that is important. An Aptitude assessment reveals general or ‘fluid’ intelligence, indicating how quickly a candidate is likely to become proficient in their role and problem-solve to deliver value for your organisation. This is especially useful in combination with a Personality or Behaviour assessment and when recruiting less experienced candidates such as graduates and during career transitions 

2.    Low adjustment

People with low adjustment experience more stress and negative emotions than others, which was historically described as neuroticism. In today’s fast-paced world, individuals who can remain calm and composed are likely to be successful. Studies have shown that high adjustment improves performance and teamwork (Barrick, 2003), while low adjustment reduces well-being and job satisfaction (Judge & Locke, 1992).

How can you identify candidates with high adjustment?

A Personality assessment like the HighPerformance Trait Indicator (HPTI) explicitly measures candidates’ levels of adjustment and can highlight areas for exploration at the interview. However, an individual with low adjustment may still be capable of performing in a high-speed environment if they can learn and process information quickly.

3.    Lack of curiosity

 In a market shaped by technological development, high curiosity can be an asset for your organisation, facilitating continuous improvement and innovation. An individual’s degree of curiosity determines their openness to change. People who are high in curiosity are innovative and inquisitive, whilst those with lower curiosity levels prefer to take a more conventional approach. Low curiosity may inhibit an individual from pioneering new, better ways of operating, something that great leaders are naturally motivated to do. Studies indicate that curiosity is linked with job satisfaction, status and success (Judge, 1999).

How can you identify candidates with the right degree of curiosity?

The requirements of your role will determine the degree of curiosity that is optimal, so it is important to create a job profile against which to score candidates. A Personality assessment will reveal how motivated a candidate is by novelty. You can also gain useful insights into how open, reflective and socially aware an individual is using an Emotional Intelligence (EI) assessment, which measures self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and social skills. High EI is predictive of success in managerial positions involving people.

4.    Poor risk management

The most effective leaders confront problems, take calculated risks, and have difficult conversations. Leaders often need to react as quickly as possible rather than putting off difficult tasks and decisions. Studies by Fredrickson (2001), Hannah et al (2007) and Norton & Weiss (2009) show that fear restricts an individual’s potential range of responses to the perceived threat, which often results in avoidance. Professional success requires courage.

How can you ensure new recruits have the right approach to risk?

A Behaviour assessment will explicitly measure a candidate’s approach to risk. However, many dangerous or high-risk occupations such as racing, rocket science or the special forces require individuals to process information quickly and make accurate decisions. An Aptitude assessment will indicate a candidate’s potential for success in a pressurised, high-risk environment.

5.    Low competitiveness

Successful leaders have an intrinsic competitive urge and drive to achieve. A study of 147 salespeople in the United States found that competitiveness was a significant predictor of success (Wang & Netemeyer, 2002). Competitiveness has also been linked with the ‘Type-A’ (high achieving) personality (Thornton, 2011). People who are high in this trait are driven by self-improvement and a desire for individual and team success. Knowing when and where to focus this competitiveness is crucial.

How can you identify talent with the right level of competitiveness?

Behaviour and Personality assessments reveal candidates’ levels of dominance, competitiveness and drive to succeed. For example, competitive candidates whose behavioural assessments show that they are also high in ‘influence’ are likely to pursue success by communicating adeptly with others. Competitive candidates with high ‘dominance’ scores will be more inclined to assume control to achieve results.

6.    Low tolerance for ambiguity

Being able to make sense of complex, contradictory and ambiguous information is key to success in today’s complicated world and a highly sought-after trait in the workplace. ‘Ambiguity acceptance’ describes individuals’ capacity to tolerate the complex and unfamiliar. With market uncertainty pushing organisations to become ever more agile, high levels of ambiguity acceptance is now a prerequisite for success in the workplace.

How can you determine candidates’ tolerance for ambiguity?

A Personality assessment can give organisations a clear indication of a candidate’s relationship with uncertainty. Taking just ten minutes to complete, the assessment can reveal an individual’s approach to stress, tough conversations, competition and uncertainty, as well as their work ethic. Together, these traits provide a strong indication of a candidate’s potential to become a highflier within your organisation.

 This article is part of a content partnership with Thomas International. You can learn more about psychometric assessments and to see how Thomas can help your organisation hire better, contact an expert here: Contact us | Thomas.co

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, Assessments, #Work & Skills

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