Focusing on a candidate’s behavioural traits gives recruiters the ability to weave an added dimension into their selection process, that of meeting the behavioural requirements of the position being offered. Up until recently this was not usually taken into consideration as the entire focus would be centred around core skill sets and experience.
As such, team building is approached as a function of the uniqueness of the individuals in the team multiplied by the number of people in the team, and it is this uniqueness that is defined primarily by behavioural traits rather than by core skills, education and experience.
As an example, a candidate’s CV may clearly demonstrate they have the appropriate levels of education and the job skills required. It may also include the candidate having people management experience. It is this latter point that behavioural tests will hone in on to provide greater clarification. Behavioural analysis might suggest that even though this candidate enjoys being part of a team, they have a strong preference for avoiding conflict and find it difficult to exert authority.
The recruiter may believe that this candidate has the right skills and experience, coupled with the high degree of ambition the company is looking for. Being unable to handle conflict is not an insurmountable issue. For the recruiter, what is important is that this behavioural trait is established during the interview stage.
Had the candidate omitted to mention this for fear of appearing weak, the recruiter would have had no way of finding this out until the candidate was faced with a conflict situation. However, a behavioural test would have flagged this up and the candidate could be placed in a people management training programme and given the required levels of mentoring to ensure they can manage conflict.
Unlike core skills, which are built upon slowly through experience, behavioural traits can be developed and enhanced quite rapidly. Ongoing behavioural tests have demonstrated that with the required level of mentoring and support a candidate can learn to turn their fear of conflict into a benefit, whereby they can hone their negotiation skills to address tensions before they become conflicts.
In many cases, behavioural traits are unconscious personality characteristics. Once the candidate is aware of his or her areas of weakness and learns to balance these with their strengths, they can work towards becoming a more rounded team member.
While behavioural testing is done on an individual basis, its true value emerges when building and sustaining a team. Visa is a perfect example of this. Over the years they have recruited numerous technically competent people from diverse companies with vastly differing cultures, processes and methodologies.
Getting the teams to work effectively together required in-depth understanding of their preferred ways of achieving goals and interacting, which is where behavioural testing came into its own. By understanding how each person performs and what their common goals are enabled the organisation to develop a high performance principles plan that revealed issues to be addressed and opportunities to develop.
There is no doubt that introducing behavioural testing into the people management process, whether for new recruitment or for working in team development, makes a profound difference to the speed of team development and performance.
Simon Wilsher is CEO of The Wilsher Group