Why Personality Really Matters

Video interviewing lets you understand more about a candidate’s personality than any CV or application form can.  I have made this argument before, but why is it important?  It’s important because your company culture can only resonate with people if every member of your staff inhabits and exhibits that culture.  Every hire could make or break your business. 

Jonathan Elliot recently blogged about the three principals of entrepreneurial success.  They were gleaned from an event at Richard Branson’s house, arranged for the UK’s Fast Track 100 companies.  “Surrounding yourself with the right people is a key ingredient to the success of any new business venture.”  This goes beyond having people with basic skills: it involves hiring characters and individuals that will represent and motivate your company.

Google exemplifies this idea.  They strive for excellence and innovation, and they want their staff to do the same, but such qualities are not easily measured.  That is why, from the beginning, Google has had a rigorous recruitment process that tries to reveal an applicant’s personality.   It works: they are one of the most successful companies in the world today.

A candidate’s personality also matters because your next hire could shape the public image of your organization.

Take Southwest Airlines. A story of one pilot’s decision to delay a flight for the benefit of a single passenger went viral.  A grandfather had found out that his grandson had suffered a terrible, violent attack and was going to be taken off life support.  He was desperate to reach him but no one at airport security would help him make the only connecting flight that would get him there on time.  The Southwest operative who had taken the booking had, however, already taken action: she had informed the pilot of the man’s plight and that pilot was not going anywhere without that grandfather. The story went from a blog, to an article in Time magazine and gradually reverberated around the Internet: it became synonymous with the brand.

The pilot’s decision was unusual and costly, but Southwest Airlines was “proud” of their employee.  The pilot’s instincts were in line with the company ethos: “Fly Southwest Airlines because you want to be treated like a person.”  The pilot proved that Southwest meant what it said, and it had nothing to do with his ability to fly a plane.  They hired the person, not the pilot.

Finding the right personalities for your business isn’t a luxury: it’s essential.

Tell us what you think.