How to Develop Your Personalized Recruiting Process

You can glean a lot from psychology to develop a personalized recruiting process. Imagine your own prior interviews in which you were being queried. I bet the ones that made the biggest impact on you, regardless of whether you accepted the position, were the ones in which you connected in a personalized way with the interviewer.


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Connecting, in the discipline of psychology, is called rapport. Here are the key ingredients for rapport, which can be used as a checklist to ensure you are conveying them in your conversations.

  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Appreciation
  • Curiosity

When you take a stance that demonstrates these traits, you can talk about anything and unlock the candidate’s positive (and any potential negative) features by building trust.

The key insight is that rapport equals trust.

Get Stories from Your Candidates and Eliminate Impression Management

When people talk about themselves during the recruiting process, they most likely present themselves as favorably as possible.

So how do you get through that veil? Simple: Change your interviewing strategy from data gathering to eliciting storytelling, which will give you much more substantive information in a free-flowing narrative.

You can do this through open-ended questions that generate unlimited information. Start with a simple question like, “What did you do for fun this weekend?” This opens the door in a relaxed way to identify key interests but also, more importantly, underlying habits of those interests that can lead to stories in the interview.

Here’s an example of a candidate’s response: “This weekend was great. I went to yoga on Saturday with my friend and then out for breakfast. My boyfriend and I went to the movies, and on Sunday, we went wine tasting.”

Key Insights:

Yoga = Wellness Interest

Wine Tasting = Further Exploration

Follow-Up Question:

Have you ever taken a wine-tasting course?

If Yes = Reflects a Growth Mind-Set

If No = Absence of Growth Mind-Set

This is how you can start looking at the positive psychological habits and soft skills that transcend into the workplace. Those with a growth mind-set spend their time doing fun things but are differentiated by a commitment to learn more about their hobbies in a way that builds an area of expertise.

Why does this matter? These folks bring that growth mind-set trait into their work, and in a knowledge economy, these individuals will be your future leaders and subject matter experts. This approach elicits more accurate information that is less insulated by impression management.

Target the Key Top Talent Soft Skills

With the aforementioned model, you need to determine which soft skills you wish to query. These skills should be derived from your organization’s “people strategy” and, more granularly, the job analysis. Here’s a brief list of proven research-driven top talent competencies to get you started.

  • Growth mind-set
  • Grit
  • Deep listening
  • Emotional regulation/mindfulness
  • Self-awareness
  • Curiosity

SPJ: The New and Improved Behavioral Interviewing

SPJ is an acronym for structured professional judgment. It’s a behavioral science term for interviewing using research-supported behavioral and personality targeting vs. interviewing based on personal hunches or experience. This method reduces bias and improves standardization.

The objective is to ask about the behavioral, cognitive, and personality traits matching the psychological competencies (soft skills) you are seeking to recruit in your candidates.

Are you looking for a gritty person? Ask questions that give behavioral evidence of grit consistently over time, and note if the trait is present or absent. Score all of your inquiries the same way, and standardize this personalized inquiry by comparing total scores across candidates.

You will need to develop a pool of questions for each psychological competency if you don’t have them or seek external support to develop them in a scientifically supported approach.

Asynchronous Video Screening: Personal, Agile, and Cost-Efficient

Many companies are incorporating asynchronous video in the recruiting process. You can take the complete methodology described above and insert it into an asynchronous video platform.

It starts with a personalized video greeting to the candidate and walks the candidate through the interviewer’s pool of questions, as well as provides the interviewer with the option to score candidate responses as previously described. You can quickly run your analytics to move your candidate to the next phase of your recruiting process.

In Short

To begin personalizing your recruiting process, you must start by identifing the core psychological competencies being sought. Implement a rapport-driven style to put your candidates at ease and invoke stories with curiosity to query psychological competencies. Be sure to improve behavioral interviews with structured professional judgment and leverage a video platform to optimize efficiency and control costs. By implementing these strategies, you’ll be hiring top talent in no time.

Eric Frazer, Psy.D., is a psychologist with 20 years of expertise in psychological assessment, putting in 10,000 hours and then some. Over the years, he has been most interested in the behaviors and personality traits that result in people’s success or failure.Frazer provides decision-makers with proven techniques and tools to identify the characteristics to recruit and hire top talent. If you already have top performers, he can help your leaders fine-tune their professional development for optimal performance with actionable goals through coaching or training.

He spends a significant amount of professional time curating psychological research, writing about its applications to human performance, and developing strategies and protocols to help top professionals consistently push their potential. In his free time, he pursues physical and psychological challenges in the “outdoor lab” that can enhance his productivity and flow.

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