Use the Psychology of Recruiting to Improve Your Business!

Responding to my last article, Tough Tactics for Tough Times (April 19th), some of you reported that you were not experiencing any bad vibes at all from the highly-publicized downturn. It’s true that some industries and specialties are still showing surprising strength. For a lot of us, however, recruiting is simply not the hot field it was just months ago. That being said, I have to quickly and firmly add that whether your sales are flat, declining, or even rising, differentiation of your recruiting services should be an important part of your business strategy. One way to do that is with better execution. If you’re better at interviewing and assessing competency than your clients, you’ll start moving into the sought-after-recruiter category, not just merely the tolerated. You’ll get business where other others don’t. Your influence will increase throughout the hiring process, and your viewpoint will carry much more weight. You’ll be a critical part of the closing process – essential for any big biller. Many years ago, I developed a simple test to determine a candidate’s or client’s dominant personality. From this, I better understood the needs of my clients and how they would react to different candidates. This in turn helped in the presentation and close process, and it also improved the fit between the candidate and the open position. First, draw a horizontal line about 4 inches long. I call this the Pace Line. Then draw a 4″ vertical line right down the center of the horizontal line. This is the People vs. Project Line. This creates four quadrants. We’ll assign a personality style to each of these quadrants, depending on a person’s bias towards people or projects and their preferred pace in decision-making. Test yourself first. Consider the horizontal pace line. Those on the right tend to be quick decision-makers, preferring less data to more. These people are more intuitive. Those on the left tend to prefer more data to make decisions. Time is secondary to the data analysis. Those in the middle tend to balance the need to make a decision with the necessary and appropriate data. Where do you fall on this horizontal scale? On the vertical axis, those at the top are more project-oriented. Those on the bottom are more people-centered. Strong project types are less sensitive to the needs of people. Those that are very people-sensitive will sacrifice the project for the needs of those involved. Plot yourself on this scale. Based on this quick appraisal, you can categorize yourself, your clients, and your candidates into one of these four quadrants. Directors are project-oriented and quick decision-makers – the upper right. Under pressure they can become overbearing. They tend to like crisp responses that focus on the bottom-line. They tend to be intuitive and hire people based on their track records, their communication skills, and their assertiveness. Amiables are people-centric and fast-paced – the lower right. Under pressure, they can become pushy. These are the classic relationship-oriented sales persons – outgoing, deal-oriented, and story-telling. Their hiring decisions tend to be based on affability, first impressions, and appearance. Advisors are people-centric and move at a slower pace – the lower left quadrant. Sufficient data is required for them to make decisions. They are understanding and make good advisors, diplomats, and care-givers. Under pressure, they can become manipulative. They tend to hire people who are team-oriented, supportive, and those that can motivate others. Many HR people fall in this category. Analyticals are project, and data-focused – the upper left quadrant. They like lots of information before making a decision, and aren’t too sensitive to the needs of others. Under pressure, they can become withdrawn. They’re conservative and tend to making hire decisions slowly, based on skills, experience, and academics. Longer answers about job related accomplishments with lots of details can often offset some apparent skills deficiencies. Many people take on these characteristics when making a buying decision. When dealing with clients, make sure you recognize their preferred style. Present your case geared to their needs. For the hiring manager, hiring is a buying decision. In this case, there is a natural tendency for everyone to become more analytical. At the same time, recruiters are in a selling mode. There is a natural tendency to speed up, sell and talk more. It’s better to slow down, and present your candidates with enough information for your client to make a reasoned decision. Balance the information presented to appeal to all types. Candidates are also influenced by the hiring process. If they need the job, they’ll tend to sell more, and will want you to push their case. This could squash a promising opportunity. If a candidate is of the classic passive variety with multiple opportunities, or one who already has a good job, they’ll tend to become aggravated with the pushy sales approach. Your clients have to be careful of overselling, too, to this type. Understanding styles can help you coach and counsel your clients and candidates. It will help you improve your interviewing skills, your understanding of human nature, and your ability to close more business. At my shop, we make sure our candidates treat every interview as the first interview, even if they have five different interviews on the same day. They need to present their related job accomplishments geared towards the specific needs of each interviewer. As you coach them this way, they’ll see you as a value-added resource. As recruiters, we know that any interviewer can eliminate a promising candidate for superficial reasons. This simple personality style test allows you address this problem. On a marketing level, it also lets you modify your offerings to maximize their impact based on the preferred style of the client. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

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Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007).


2 Comments on “Use the Psychology of Recruiting to Improve Your Business!

  1. I agree that personality assessment is a very powerful tool for understanding candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. I do have a problem with the simplistic method suggested here, which I feel could create more problems than insight and give the whole practice of personality assessment a bad name. If you really want to leverage the power of personality assessment, use a reliable and validated test that produces results that are easily interpretable and backed by a validation report. For guidelines, download the “Testing and Assessment: An Employer’s Guide to Good Practice” from the department of labor website (

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  2. Randall, thanks for your comments. We actually offer a very sophisticated personality style test from Profiles International.

    However, the quickie test I use was meant as a sales tool only, for recruiters to better present their candidates to their clients. We’ve used this for years and it works great. You might want to try it when selling your consulting services to one of your clients, or trying to persuade someone to your point of view.

    By presenting data in one of these four ways we discovered that sales people better match the decision-making style of their clients. I suspect this is how you use the info from the test you use to improve team communications and understanding.

    Thanks for your comments. If you have some data that presents the results of using your testing methods, I would certainly like to review it.


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