HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Personality Interview
Have you ever evaluated a candidate with the skills and experience you’re looking for, but you wonder if they will fit into your culture? It’s time to deploy the personality interview! Read on to understand how this interview technique could be helpful for your organization.

What Is a Personality Interview?

As you are hiring, it’s important to ensure the candidate can do the role and has the necessary skills, education, and experience. Can they answer technical interview questions appropriately and seem to have a firm understanding of the role expectations? What is often overlooked is how they would fit into your organization. That’s where a personality interview comes in. This interview technique is exactly what it sounds like: you’re reviewing the candidate’s personality outside of their technical abilities. Best practice would be to have this interview prior to a technical interview so as to not waste anyone’s time if they don't have the personality to succeed in your organization. Tackle this head on and see how your candidate responds to evaluate how they would help or hinder your company’s direction.

Why Are Personality Interviews Helpful?

Understanding the “why” behind what you’re doing is extremely beneficial. With that in mind, let’s look at how these interviews can be helpful.
  • Saves resources. Interviewing can be a lengthy process and if your organization sends candidates through a few rounds, your hiring managers may be exhausted by the time a new employee is hired. With the help of personality interviews, HR can take some of that burden off hiring managers by handling the interviews first. A personality interview can weed out a few candidates before they reach the hiring manager because they are not a cultural fit for your organization. This saves your organization resources in the long run!
  • Allows for more diversity. Are you looking for specific personality traits for culture fit? In a personality interview, you can spot these right away as you dive into what makes a candidate tick. This provides you with a more diverse candidate pool for your hiring manager instead of candidates with all the experience and skills but none of the mindsets you’re looking for.For example, backend developers often think similarly, which makes them good at their jobs. Is your organization looking for a backend developer with more open mindedness for growth, similar to the direction of your company? Personality interviews will help you find this!
  • Ensures employees are bought in. Applying candidates either want a job so badly they don’t care where it is, or they want to work for your organization no matter the cost. A personality interview can help you differentiate these early on. With some carefully scripted questions, you’ll be able to see who aligns with your company values and direction, and who is here to collect a paycheck.

Personality Interview Example Questions

Now that you understand the benefits of this type of interviewing, let’s review some sample questions to get you on your way. Feel free to use some or all of these as they apply to your organization.

What Specific Values Help You With Conflict Resolution?

In any work environment, conflict resolution is critical. If you hire a candidate who cannot resolve conflict with their colleagues or manager, it can be detrimental to your organization. Asking this in the personality interview will give you insight into the way your candidate handles these situations. In asking about the values that drive conflict resolution, your candidate will need to think about the “why” behind their actions and explain how they handled conflicts in the past and their motivation to do so. Take that information and compare it to the organization as you assess the candidate further.

Do You Consider Yourself a Leader or a Contributor When You Work Within a Team?

Depending on the role you’re hiring, this can be a make or break question. Perhaps you’re looking for a candidate to be part of your call center team, but desperately need some leadership to drive them to the next level. This question will help move your candidate forward or take them out of the running all together. The personality of a candidate matters greatly when you’re hiring, especially if you want to hire a leader to take your team to the next level!

How Do Your Values Help You Motivate Those Around You?

Adding this into a personality interview will help you find the candidate you want when things aren’t going well. This may be particularly helpful if you have a team that could use a little encouragement along their journey. While you need someone to do the role and functions of the job effectively, you need a motivator as well. Utilize this question to find the candidate that can give you the best of both worlds.

Which Company Culture in Your Career Has Suited You Best?

This question may solidify a candidate right away. By asking this question, you’re requiring the candidate to think back to previous cultures and explain what worked and what didn’t. This gives you a sneak peek into how they think on their feet. You’ll garner some knowledge about how they speak of previous organizations as well as understand if they could fit in your company.

Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years?

When it comes to understanding the personality of a candidate, knowing their life plan is important. Hiring a candidate that sees themselves retired at 35 and traveling the globe may not be the best fit for your VP candidate, but may fit great for an entry level role. This question helps you understand the driving force behind why they are working to begin with, what they are trying to fund and if that aligns with your organization.

What Motivates You to Succeed?

We are all motivated by something. Maybe your candidate is motivated to make as much money as possible so they can retire early and travel. It’s great to couple this question with the previous one to see if you can get a more targeted answer. Something like, “So I understand you want to be traveling the globe in the next 10 years. Is that what motivates you to succeed in your daily life?” Or, “You mentioned in 10 years, you would like to work your way up at a company. Is this your daily motivation?” Allow the question to be part of a conversation, but pay close attention to the answer.

Do You Prefer Working Independently or as Part of a Team?

Again, depending on the role you’re hiring for, this can be critical. If you’re hiring for a department of one and the candidate mentions working better as a team, they might not be the best fit for the role. Understanding what makes your candidate the most comfortable will help you determine if the role you’re looking to fill will make sense in the long run for your candidate.

Which of Our Company Values do You Align With Most?

Here you’re killing two birds with one stone by seeing how much they already know about the company and assessing their current buy in to the organization. It’s best to end with this question to see if the candidate picked up on any values during the interview. If they mention any that you didn’t state in the interview, they show they did their homework. A candidate who goes the extra mile to evaluate the organization is typically a candidate who will become a long term employee for your organization.

How to Evaluate a Personality Interview

With those questions in mind, it’s time to take what you’ve learned and assess the candidate without bias as you push them on to the next round or remove them from the running. Let’s review the best way to do this.

Step 1: Follow the Structure

No matter the interview type, the best way to evaluate candidates is to stick to a structure. Even if you’re entering into a personality interview, ensure you have your outline or structured set of questions to ask every candidate to avoid discrimination or bias during the process. You can utilize a rating scale to rate candidates from 1-10 or simply write notes to review after the interview. You’ll evaluate many applicants during personality interviews, so sticking to a structure will help you feel less scattered and help the candidate feel the same.

Step 2: Look Beyond the Interview

While you assess the candidate’s personality, don’t overlook things outside of the interview. Take a glance into their personality by asking questions like did they arrive on time, did they greet professionally, did they wait patiently, did they follow up, are they focused on the interview, and did they turn off their phone for the interview? These may not be specifically covered in the personality interview, but you can still learn about the candidate during the interview as you observe them. Make notes on your structure for every candidate and consider how this type of personality will fit into your organization as you move forward.

Step 3: Don’t Confuse Personal Preference for Professional Fit

The easiest thing to do in a personality interview is to misunderstand your personal liking for a candidate as a reason to hire them. You may have a great conversation and see that their personality and yours are aligned. Does that mean they would be the best candidate for the role? Not necessarily. You may be in HR while the role you’re hiring for may be in records, and the personality traits required for each could be vastly different. Your judgment should be focused on cultural fit, not your new best friend. Don’t allow your affinity for a candidate to confuse whether or not they could fit into your organization. Allow yourself to converse professionally, but leave it at that.
Shalie Reich

Shalie Reich

Shalie has over 4 years of experience working in a variety of HR positions and organizations including: working as an HR department "of one", working with a start-up based in Europe, to working in a fully established robust USA based HR department. Shalie has experience in multiple states and countries with all aspects of the HR spectrum. She has a passion to share her knowledge and experience to benefit the HR profession!
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Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
Batch Interview
Behavioral Interviewing
Case Interview
Competency-Based Interview
First Impression Effect
Group Interview
Halo Effect
Interview Guide
Interview Note Taking
Interview Plan
Interview-Scheduling Software
Interviewing Techniques
Knockout Question
Meticulous Interviewing
Panel Interview
Phone Interview
Pitchfork Effect
Pre-Employment Screening
STAR Method
Salary Expectations
Screening Interview
Second Round Interview
Situational Interview
Structured Interview
Technical Interview
Unstructured Interview
Video Screening Interview
Virtual Interview
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