Should I hire someone like me or look for someone with a different personality?


There’s often a tendency to hire like-minded people who have a similar personality to our own. Somehow we feel comfortable, like we’re on the same page and know that they’ll fit in well with our culture.


As you are probably aware, culture is considered to be created by the person at the top; it is usually a direct reflection of their personality and how they like to work.


Team culture, however, is an entirely different thing. In larger companies it’s most likely created by the team leader(s). In smaller companies, it’s created by the personalities working within the team.


So why am I telling you this? The trap many small business owners fall into during the hiring process is to only look at the personality according to the company culture that the leader (you) has created. What they fail to consider is the other personality styles the new hire will be working with, and what personal traits they will need to succeed in the role.


Let’s say that your personality style tends to be very black and white, glass half-empty and rigid with rules, procedures and processes. You’re recruiting a new sales manager and during the interview process you recognise that the candidate has a real dislike for structure and following company rules. What do you do? Hire them or reject their application because they don’t fit with the culture you have created and they could be more difficult to manage?


In my opinion, and providing their work history and sales achievements check out, I would hire them because the personalities often attracted to a sales environment will be the exact opposite. They often don’t like regimented rules; they are positive and upbeat and see opportunities everywhere.


Here’s a recent example.


I was talking to a friend last week who had just been offered his dream job with one of the largest ad agencies in the world.


I was interested to hear about the company’s interviewing process. Being a creative agency, they didn’t follow the traditional procedure – go through the resume and drill down on past history (although they had clearly read it) – instead they focused on his personality, creativity and fit with the team.


Finally, a great way at the end of the interview to find out more about someone’s personality is to ask them to use five words that describe their personality.


If you’re hiring an accounts person you would want to hear words that reflect being focused, detailed, rule-following, ethical and conscientious. For a salesperson, you’d be looking for the words driven, success/goal oriented, positive, ambitious and energetic.