While going through a behavior style workshop, participants often ask if behavior styles should be used to help make hiring decisions. It’s an understandable question because it seems like it would be best to hire certain Styles for certain types of work, or to hire someone if you need their Style to create balance on a team. But there is a clear answer to this question:

Absolutely not.

For two good reasons:

1. Behavior Styles are patterns of behavior, not who someone “is.” They indicate nothing about an individual’s unique attributes and qualities that make up their character. When you hire someone, you want to get the best person for the job, and that means much, much more than what their Behavior Style preference is.

When individuals with the same Behavior Style get together in groups, they find they have some things in common. However, it also becomes apparent that there are many unique differences. While there are 17 possible Behavior Style combinations, there is a measureless blend of life experience, talents, genetics, skills, strengths, characteristics, neurological makeup, etc. that goes far beyond someone’s Style preference. These variables that make up who someone is will determine how likely they are to be a good hire, not what their Behavior Style preference is.

2. Even though there is a general connection between Behavior Styles and certain industries (e.g., more Analyzers than other styles in software development), Behavior Styles do not indicate technical competence. There are many excellent accountants who have a Persuader preference (which is counter-intuitive), and brilliant workshop facilitators who have an Analyzer preference (which is also counter-intuitive). Hiring someone simply because their Behavior Style preference seems to align with the technical skills required for a job is a mistake.

Knowing about Behavior Styles, however, can be helpful when interviewing a candidate because it can help you discover how they have worked with different Styles. This gives you valuable information about the type of coworker and teammate they will be.

You don’t need to use the specific Style words with them to discover this. Just provide a brief description of a pattern of behavior and find out how they’ve worked with that type of individual. If they can tell you how they have modified their behavior to create better relationships with all the Style, while still being true to their own preference (i.e., not over-functioning to please everyone), that indicates a desirable level of emotional intelligence you want in anyone you hire.

5 Responses

  1. I am glad you answered this question directly as I came across it a number of times when I was running the Wilson Learning social style workshops (same model, different titles). Some managers wanted to hire the same style as themselves as they felt more comfortable with behavioural clones.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Brian. Yes, the tendency to hire a similar style is more comfortable. There’s some humor in what happens when I ask groups what’s the best Behavior Style. The correct answer, of course, is “there isn’t one”, but the deeper, honest answer is “my Style”. It’s important to recognize this understandable bias and make sure we prevent it from influencing hiring decisions. Personally, I prefer having people on the team whose strengths cover my blind spots.