HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting, Talent

The Proven Psychology Behind Hiring (and Retaining) Top Talent

Identifying the so-called “soft psychological skills” of high performers can be challenging, especially when considering that many personality tests are outdated and don’t capture the emotional intelligence attributes of current and new (Millennial/Gen Z) workers in 2019.


Source: ipopba / iStock / Getty

Those outdated tests told you that you have a “conscientious” worker—what does that really tell you about that professional’s style of driving success in your organization into the future? Not much!

Breaking the Hiring Status Quo

As an alternative, or in addition to your current tests or platforms being used, consider that you can better assess the psychological qualities of top talent during your interviews with a structured method informed by current behavioral science research. Keen interviewing skills augmented with a semistructured method deliver better results.
Here’s a simple way to improve interviews and identify psychological traits of top talent:

  1. Define the top talent psychological traits being queried. Do you have these in your core values?
  2. Have a pool of questions to choose from to tap that specific psychological trait.
  3. Ask for an example that can be researched or proven via a reference and not just taken at face value as a proof case for success.
  4. Mark the talent as being Present, Partially Present, or Absent. (2, points, 1 point, 0 points respectively)
  5. Tally up your scores and review them collectively among the hiring team.

My Top 10 List and Sample Questions to Tap These Psychological Traits

Psychological Trait #1: Self-Assessment of Strengths and Weaknesses

What’s the greatest compliment you received from a customer?
What’s the most accurate criticism you ever received from a customer?

Psychological Trait #2: Grit

What is something you’ve worked on for longer than 2 years, and what was the outcome?

Psychological Trait #3: Growth Mind-Set

What are you learning right now, and what is your preferred learning style?

Psychological Trait #4: Empathy and Perspective

How do you tend to resolve conflict?

Psychological Trait #5: Deep Listening

What’s the most revealing information a prior coworker and customer shared with you?

Psychological Trait #6: Mentoring and Reverse Mentoring

How do you envision a positive mentoring experience, and what could you mentor someone about in our organization?

Psychological Trait #7: Curiosity

Do you have any hobbies that you could teach to someone who had the same interest?

Psychological Trait #8: Minority-of-One Thinking

Can you provide an example of a meeting when your opinion was different from everyone else’s? Was your opinion helpful?

Psychological Trait #9: Stress Management

What was most stressful in your prior position, and how did you manage it?

Psychological Trait #10: Collaboration

What gets in the way of team collaboration?

Eric Frazer, Psy.D., Psychological Consultant, helps businesses identify, hire, and retain top talent by leveraging a unique blend of clinical psychology; positive psychology research; and proven, step-by-step systems and strategies. Learn more in his 2019 book, The Psychology of Top Talent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *