I am currently interviewing and had a question. I have two top candidates for a position; one is more diplomatic but more sensitive...the other appears more direct but more thick-skinned. The question I am struggling with is: who do I hire? :?

This past year was a very difficult year in terms of having to provide coaching to two of my direct reports and much adjusting feedback. {I have a whole section under coaching about this challenge.} Both direct reports are now performing well and meeting or exceeding expectations. At the time, however, their internalization of issues and lack of proactivity was disheartening. I did have one team member during that time who offered a refreshing change of personality type; she is a D on the DISC and, although I have had to remove the occasional "foot from her mouth", she always responds well and I always know where I stand. Most of the rest of my team is S and C combinations. If I hire the more sensitive personality, she is an S and I combination {she has taken the DISC before}. I believe she would get along better with my team, but I DON'T want her to foster more internalization and, forgive me for being blunt...weepy gossip.

At my organization, we do peer interviewing. I will tell you that my team has chosen the more sensitive personality as the first choice.

My intinct is to hire the peer interviewers first choice...the sensitive personality. I guess my thought is...if I am doing the job I should be doing as a good manager...the personality shouldn't matter. My next thought is I need to "get over" being so worried about the challenges certain personalities may bring to me as a supervisor and realize that my past coaching of the two direct reports was very successful. :)

I suppose I just thought that hiring a D would minimize lengthy conversations over feelings versus task which seems like a pleasant scenario at this point... :wink:

Both of them are equally skilled at the case anyone wonders...

WillDuke's picture
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Remember that each of us can choose how we respond and communicate despite what our tendencies are. I can be very direct, or even very detail oriented when I feel it is important even though I am a high I and S.

Be careful with assumptions as my experience is that people often live up to them. Just because one high S had a problem doesn't mean that all high Ss will have that problem. And, your high S no longer has that problem, you resolved it. You have first-hand proof that people are not stuck in the model.

I would ask myself which person is more capable of doing the right then when it is time. Can the D be sensitive? Can the I keep track of the details? I am a huge proponent of teamwork. But too many of the same personality type in a group can stagnate the group. Sometimes mixing it up is tremendously healthy.

Okay, so that doesn't tell you what you should do. But I don't think this should be the sole decision point.

starbucksandshoes's picture

Thanks so much! It helps to have feedback as I process through this decision! :D

ramiska's picture

[quote]too many of the same personality type in a group can stagnate the group. Sometimes mixing it up is tremendously healthy[/quote]

Well said, Will. This is the meaning of a diverse workplace. It goes well beyond color, gender, etc.

wendii's picture
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I agree with Will (as ever!). Too much of one personality in a team is bad for a team - although as the manager, you have got to be willing to deal with the fallout that a better team creates.

The easiest way to decide which candidate is to make a grid. Think about all the experience and skills you need, and then rank each candidate on a 1-5 (1, turned up for interview, 3 ok, 5 blew me away!). Add up the scores. The highest scoring person most reflects what you think you need.

In the 5 years I've been recruiting, the scores have never been wrong - if they are, you havn't got everything on your list that you're looking for.


WillDuke's picture
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I love Wendii's grid idea. Of course, being the brilliant recruiter she is she might have forgotten how hard it can be for some of us (like me) to create the grid! :)

Any tips on grid-making Wendii?

bflynn's picture

[quote="starbucksandshoes"]Thanks so much! It helps to have feedback as I process through this decision! :D[/quote]

This being Manager Tools, I had to say it....that wasn't feedback. Feedback starts out with a phrase like "When you hire a candiate that you like and your team perfers, ...."

Hey, you were all thinking it too!

Focus on which one you think will do the job the best (taking into account how that person will work within the team). If you're split on that, go with the one your team prefers. There are no magic rules here, you're the only expert for this situation.


wendii's picture
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Short answer: skills you are looking for go down the left hand side, candidates names across the top and the score for each candidate in the box at the junction of each line. Nothing fancy, usually drawn on a spare bit of paper out of the printer. But kept for legal purposes!

Long answer:

Going back a couple of steps - when you first decided you needed a new recruit, you wrote a list of requirements - or at least had a list in your head. So, for a new admin you'd want:

*Organisation skills
*Experience with certain computer packages
*Team working skills
*Communication skills
*Customer focus


So when you have selected some candidates to interview, you ask questions which are designed to find out whether the candidate has the skills you are looking for. There can be a 1:1 ratio between skills and questions, but often there's not.

You might ask Can you tell me about a time you've worked in a team, and what made it effective?

And candidate A says: I work in a team now, we all like each other so that's good. Candidate B says: Our team is really good because we help each other out even when it's not our job, and we understand what each other's jobs are and why they have to be done. And Candidate C says: Our team is great, we have a really strong team leader who makes it really clear what the goals are and we work towards them together. We appreciate each others strengths and weaknesses and always help each other out. And when Mary's having a bad day we pick up her phone for her so she can concentrate and not get stressed.

So on your scoring grid you have the skills down the left, and the candidates across the top, giving you a box for each skill for each candidate. Then you would mark each question, or each skill on a 1-5 scale. So candidate A would get 1, because at least they were in the room, candidate B would get 3, and candidate C would get 5 because they show a strong understanding of the actions required to make a team as well as doing them.

At the end of the interview you add up the columns, and candidate A gets 8 (1point * 8 questions), candidate B gets 24 (3points * 8 questions) and candidate C gets 5*8 = 40 and an offer.

I will give my ipod to anyone who finds a fantastic candidate with a great attitude who does not score highest of the interviewed candidates. I don't know why, but it works every time.

Hope that helps.


rthibode's picture

Great post, Wendii, thanks for fleshing out the details.

One more question, if you don't mind:

Do you rate the candidates in relation to each other, or in relation to an absolute standard?

Sometimes I don't have any great candidates and time's up and we need to hire someone before the semester starts. If I'm comparing three candidates who are all just okay, would I rate someone a 5 because they are the best of the bunch? Or do I have to be willing to hire someone whose average score is a 2? Would a manager use the grid for anything later, such as goal-setting with the new direct?


wendii's picture
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I'm glad it helped.

I rate the candidates according to an absolute standard, but one that is in my head. It comes out of knowing the hiring manager, the team, the requirements, the organisation. If you're interviewing with someone else, which you should be, you can discuss it together and it helps in clarifying your thoughts. You'll be surprised how close you come most of the time. Alternatively, compare them to your average team member - make that 3 and go higher if they are better and lower if worse.

I'd never hire someone who didn't on average score 3 (ie all the scores added up and divided by their number); if they are not averagely able to do this job, then hiring them will cause you more problems than an empty slot. If you're up against a time limit and you concerns about finding the right person, start earlier and hire harder. I realise this is easy to say and hard to do when you're the manager and it's your slot and your deadline but who said we wanted life to be easy?! If you HAVE to hire someone; score normally and then pick the person with the highest score.

You can use the grid later for personal development purposes. My best hiring managers use it to inform their training and induction plans for their new recruits. My worst hiring managers don't have a training and induction plan!

I'm not sure I described that very well... ask me more questions if you need to :-)


rthibode's picture

Thanks Wendii, that clarified things. I much prefer an absolute standard, but it's so hard when you have to make an offer to someone with low scores.

I'm often in the position of having to hire -- the school year waits for no one. My baseline criterion is someone who has earned an A- or better in the course I'm hiring them to support. I send letters to every such person. Sometimes the pool is very small, if it's a really tough course or one with low enrollment. The second criterion is that the candidate has to be available to attend the class again, alongside the students they'll support. All candidates are students, and often they have other classes in the time slot I need.

I'm not complaining, though. I'm fortunate to be able to even have some sort of hiring process for the students who work here. The standard for hiring students in other departments seems to be "let's have a look and see who's in the hallway. I bet they'd be fine."


wendii's picture
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Your story of managers who hire from the hallways reminds me of a manager I once worked with who I'm sure picked his candidates up in pubs and supermarkets. Fortunately his process thereafter was very robust!

If you HAVE to make a hire, knowing your candidates are inadequate, then having a process which identifies your potential employees' strengths and weaknesses allows you to shift their responsibilities towards their strengths and pick up their weaknesses.

Putting the soapbox away now!


rthibode's picture

Yours are among my favourite soapboxes, Wendii. Insights ALWAYS appreciated!

Mark's picture
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I'd like to add something to Wendii's point (which I agree with).

I always have two standards. One is, do I want to hire them? Now, my standards are improbably hard, in the sense of being able to do the job, being able to do the NEXT job (think delegation), being able to work with me and the team, being able to work within the culture.

And THEN I ask, are they the BEST of those that I WANT to hire? In other words, it is not enough to be good enough. One must be the best of those who are good enough.

This is not to say that having only one who meets the standard is bad...frankly, the standards are so high that if someone meets the standard, they're fabulous. On the other hand, I love hiring the better of two completely qualified candidates.

Hiring is the most important thing you do as a manager. You do it rarely. Remember Horstman's Christmas Rule, and pay attention when you do.


rthibode's picture

Nice to hear from you Mark.

[quote]Hiring is the most important thing you do as a manager. You do it rarely. Remember Horstman's Christmas Rule, and pay attention when you do.[/quote]

I'd love to have the same standard as Mark. I certainly did when I was hiring my admin, and she is solid gold.

I have a staff of about 20 who work for me part time. I replace 30-50% of them each summer. The good thing about this is that weaker hires are only with me for a year (I don't hire them again if they haven't become good enough by the end of their first year.)

Sometimes it's just not an option to keep going until you have someone fantastic. Someday, though, when I'm hiring "real" staff, I'll certainly be ready, thanks to Manager Tools.

madamos's picture
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My department uses a similar grid system for evaluating job candidates. Wendii's post has given me new insight on using the grid. I have always felt the grid did not give enough real information on the candidate to really make a choice, but in my department I believe that to be caused by other interviewers hesitating to give less than a 3 for anyone. Wendii's post is making me rethink the usefulness of the grid.

More importantly Wendii has identified a great added bonus for using this system. I didn't realize this before, but I will start using this tip:
[quote]You can use the grid later for personal development purposes. My best hiring managers use it to inform their training and induction plans for their new recruits. My worst hiring managers don't have a training and induction plan! [/quote]

Wow! Tying in the interview process to the personal development for the new member. I have been struggling with the development for the new hires in my staff, but now I see I was missing a great tool!
Thanks Wendii!


juliahhavener's picture
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I have to second this - I was really struggling with weighing out individual candidates. My lead and I sat down and put words to the qualities we wanted in applicants. We then went through and put each candidate we had interviewed into the grid. This worked amazingly well for us and allowed us to really crystalize our choices.

Thank you, Wendii!'s picture
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My company has recently started taking DISC profiling very seriously and we are currently in the process of recruiting new team members, using DISC profiles to assist in making a decision.

This got us thinking about the importance of balancing out the team and 'covering all bases' against the importance of being able to fulfill the fundamentals of the role.

Clearly we are not going to recruit anyone just because they are an "I", which happens to be what is lacking in this particular team, if they can not do the job. There is however a very obvious link that in order to be effective in this position it is essential to be able to demonstrate high levels of organisational skills and attention to detail.

We currently have five members of the team, four are high C / S and one is a high D / C.

I wondered what your thoughts were with regards to whether being able to cover each of the D, I, S and C was important within any team dynamic, or whether the core skill set surrounding the position over-rode the need to find balance.

Thank you


mattpalmer's picture

Given that anyone *can* behave in any of the DISC quadrants if they need to, I'd use a DISC profile as the very, very weakest of indicators in making a hiring decision.  If I was ever in the fantasy wonderland of having two candidates who were both fantastic, and I'd run them through an exhaustive gauntlet of practical tests and interviews with everyone and we were all in agreement that both candidates were completely neck-and-neck and couldn't be differentiated, then as a final, last ditch effort, I might give both a DISC profile and try and compatibility-match them with the rest of the team.  However, quite frankly, if you've got two people with the same skills and demonstrated aptitudes competing for the same job, I wouldn't be surprised if they came out with similar DISC profiles.'s picture
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Thanks for your thoughts Matt