Having just gone through the Interviewing and hiring process again, I thought I’d pay forward a tactic I’ve used for years to get a read on an interviewee’s personality.

I’m sure we’ve all had hires who turned out much different than we anticipated—some much better than we could have imagined, and others about whom we somehow totally missed the mark.  If you don’t know the applicant, it can be tough determining if the personality they present in the interview is their true self when they “get off the stage.”

When I first started visiting multiple market sales teams in my corporate role, I found asking this question helpful in quickly assessing personalities. I would ask the person, ”Think about two peers and one past boss … don’t share names … rather, please describe and rate these folks with regard to resilience, humility, and teamwork.”

The key is not to guide them to give you positive or negative commentary. Listen closely to how they describe and judge the three people they chose.

Research finds the responses and color they give in their commentary is a reflection of who they are themselves. When people judge others positively, or rate highly, they’re more likely to be the same way.  If they rate people as good team players, they’re likely to be a good team player, too.

It goes the same way on the flip side. A huge suite of negative personality traits are associated with viewing others negatively. (Yikes) It’s a red flag if they describe the three people with a varying degree of negativity.

This question coupled with others around skill sets and behaviors, plus testing (of which I’m a firm believer), will help you find the ideal team player.

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