Adjust Your Recruiting Methods for These 4 Personality Types

March 12, 2014

Do you ever get a sixth sense that a candidate you’re speaking with is either perfect for a job, or way off-base, despite their years of relevant experience or what their resume says about them?

If so, it’s possible that you are basing your hunch on an understanding of personality type, without even knowing it. Getting a feel for a candidate’s personality will help you tailor the way you approach them. For example, once you understand that you are dealing with a personality type that is most motivated by power, you can appeal to the authority they will wield on the job.

Here are descriptions of distinctive personalities to keep in mind as you tailor your recruiting approach:

Distinguish between four temperaments

There are four different personality temperaments established by David Keirsey, an educational psychologist who studied personality in the 1950s, based on observable traits, such as communication, patterns of actions, and values and talents. Keirsey came up with specific benchmark types which represent very different personalities.

The guardians, idealists, rationalists and creators make up the four temperaments, and if you want to get the edge on closing a candidate, you can start by figuring out which type you’re recruiting:

1. Corporate Guardians

Making up 41% of the population, much of corporate America is dominated by the Guardian personality type. In many cases, if you’re looking to fill a spot in a large corporation, you’re looking for this type, because these are the people who are really good at maintaining the status quo. If the job is about getting the paperwork done on time and managing the corporate structure that's already in place, and if you don’t want anyone rocking that structural boat, then you want a guardian.

Motivated by financial gains and status, a recruiter can learn to play to the desires of guardians by focusing on what’s most important to them. If you can’t offer a high salary, try enticing them with something that will play to their desire for status, like a personalized parking spot or a fancy job title.

How to know you’re dealing with a guardian: When asking them what’s most important to them in a job, you can list several factors, but if their answer includes money or status at the top of the heap, you’re probably dealing with a guardian.

2. Inventive Rationalists

12% of the population is comprised of rationalists. This type is much harder to find, but they’re highly desirable when you’re looking for someone who is going to reimagine the wheel. If you have a department or position that needs a major renovation in terms of how it’s structured, you don’t want to hire a guardian, you need a rationalist.

Rationalists are driven by curiosity and their intellect, and you can make the job more attractive to them by emphasizing the aspects of their job where they will have total autonomy, such as setting up a new department, or stressing that this piece of the company is entirely “their baby.”

How to know you’re dealing with a rationalist: When you chat with them about their priorities, they will stress that they want to come in and do things differently, finding a new, better way to accomplish tasks that were previously in place. Steve Jobs was this type, but they are often hard to hire, because they want to carve out new territory and be independent.

3. Creative Artisans

Creative artisans make up one third of the population, and because this is a category that places the highest value on fun, this often isn’t the type of person who is seeking employment through a corporate recruiter.

If, however, you’re interviewing someone of this type, chances are it’s for a more adventurous job, which doesn’t involve a lot of 9-5 cubicle time. The artisan needs work to be spontaneous and adventurous, and they aren’t very adept at sticking to routines and deadlines.

Most likely very good at the one thing they do, such as being a tour guide or a cinematographer, the artisan can be enticed to take a job if there is a lot of travel involved, or perhaps a bonus perk of unlimited vacation days.

How to know you’re dealing with a creative artisan: When discussing priorities with the creative artisan, they will frequently bring up travel, and working outside of the 9-5 office structure as their highest priority.

4. Visionary Idealists

Just 14% of the population accounts for this personality type, which places the highest value on doing work that they find to be deeply meaningful. If you’re interviewing someone of this type, often they are seeking a position that is doing something to add value to someone’s life, or helping to improve conditions in the world or within a corporation.

To appeal to these idealistic individuals, a recruiter should stress the social responsibility or mission of the company, or perhaps offer a package that includes paid time off to volunteer for community service projects.

How to know you’re dealing with an idealist: When asked what their priorities are, they often talk about the meaning or mission of the work, or the good the company is achieving in the world.

Although most people have varying degrees of all four different aspects of these personality types, it can be helpful for a recruiter to figure out which one dominates. That wasy you can play to their strengths when it’s time to close.

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