Proceed With Caution: Employee Personality Types to Watch Out For


No employer wants to hire someone with a bad attitude or poor work ethic, and who can blame them? A person with these traits is often less productive and may cause conflict among other employees, ultimately affecting your organization as a whole. Workers with a sunnier disposition, on the other hand, are much more likely to make a positive impact on a company.

"Time and time again, research has found that personality contributes in several important ways to job performance," said Kerry Schofield, co-founder and chief psychometrics officer of Good.Co, a company that matches employees and employers based on personality. "Perhaps the most important way is through job satisfaction: Regardless of organizational culture, personality traits like a positive outlook contribute to a sense of job satisfaction. When a person is more committed and happier in their job, they are willing to give more to the organization, and are more focused on doing good work because they want to, rather than because they have to."

The problem is, it can often be difficult to identify a person's "negative" traits during an interview. Job candidates are getting savvier, and many of them know exactly what a potential employer wants to hear — especially if they're highly skilled and qualified for the job. They try to present themselves in the best light possible, even if it runs contrary to their true personality. [10 Personality Traits Employers Want]

What can a hiring manager do to assess a candidate's traits during the interview? Carl Persing, research and solutions adviser at strategy consultancy and survey provider Metrus Group, said it's all about asking the right questions.

"Asking specific questions about how people feel about friendships, relationships, etc. will give better, more accurate results [about personality traits]," Persing told Business News Daily.

A few major personality types to be wary of in a potential employee include:

  •  The "team killer." Team killers are highly talented people who also destroy morale, by quarreling with subordinates, complaining, testing the limits and performing erratically, said Robert Hogan, a psychologist and president of personality test provider Hogan Assessments. Such people are hired because they are smart and attractive, and seem to have a lot of potential. Employers give them a lot of slack because they are so obviously talented, but over time, their negative impact on the rest of the team cripples the performance of the entire group.
  • The narcissist. This individual is charming and suave, and is able to portray and promote him or herself very well, Persing said. This may give the employer confidence initially, but eventually, the person's sense of self-importance will get in the way of performance. Narcissists often believe they're always right, and therefore will justify any behavior they see fit.
  • The antisocial person. You do not want individuals who lack integrity in your company, said Eric Heggestad, an industrial and organizational psychologist and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Antisocial people have little or no regard for their employers and tend to engage in counterproductive behaviors, such as stealing from the office or skipping work without notice or explanation. This type of employee may be very intelligent and driven, but will turn on coworkers if he or she stands to gain something.

While these particular personality types might raise some red flags, an employer should never automatically dismiss a candidate based on a single personality trait. Schofield noted that considering the whole person within the context of the organizational culture, the culture of their immediate team, and the personalities of their co-workers is the key to making a good hiring decision.

"Looking at individual traits alone does not give the whole picture about the person's potential behavior," Schofield said. "For example, an extroverted person who is empathetic will behave quite differently from an equally extroverted person who is aggressive. There are some traits that generally make things more difficult across the board by increasing risk for conflict and reducing the odds of high job satisfaction, but even these can be valuable in the right environment. Context is everything."

Originally published on Business News Daily.