Considering Team Chemistry: Would You Hire Stephen Colbert?

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To many, Stephen Colbert is an American icon: A comedian with a sharp, sardonic wit who has had a huge impact on our culture.

You may find Colbert hilariously entertaining. But would you hire him?

At first glance, this may seem to be a great idea--everyone loves a funny guy, right? Well, to a point. Have you ever worked with a funny person who just can't stop making jokes, even when you're trying to get work done? What would a personality as big as Colbert's do to your work culture?

Hiring managers and HR professionals are starting to take these questions into consideration, especially with the growing awareness of the impact that work culture and employee engagement have on an organization's productivity and bottom line.

Who IS Stephen Colbert?

Julie Raynor Gross, master practitioner of the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, analyzed Colbert's personality on The Late Show--an assessment of his responses to 144 questions that indicate his preferences on four different scales:

  • Extraversion (E) or introversion (I)
  • Thinking (T) or feeling (F)
  • Sensing (S) or intuition (N)
  • Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

Naturally, there's humor in the segment, but Gross also explains the core values of the assessment and what they mean, and she makes it clear that there is no single, "best" personality. "The best personality is actually the personality that you were meant to have, your innate personality," she said. "Believe it or not, people want to see the real you."

Colbert's results showed him to be INFP (introversion, intuition, feeling, perceiving). People who are INFP, Gross explained, are "typically the most brilliant, creative, intellectual minds," and they include some heavy hitters, including William Shakespeare, Tim Burton, and Johnny Depp. The downside to being an INFP personality? They can sometimes be seen as cold or not easy to warm up to.

In the workplace, understanding a new hire's personality is important because it can potentially have an impact on factors like team dynamics, communication, and work style.

How Understanding Personality Types is Pivotal for Hiring Managers

Colbert's personality analysis results may come as a surprise. It's probably only natural that most would consider someone with a "big" personality and who regularly performs in front of large audiences to be a natural extrovert. That Colbert's personality type is actually introverted illustrates what personality assessments can reveal: Judging someone's personality based solely on how they "perform" during a job interview could be a mistake.

Including personality assessments as part of the hiring process can help you pay attention to the most important issues during interviews. The results can also support team building; when managers and other employees understand each other on a deeper level, communication becomes easier. Combined with talent analytics, personality analyses can help you identify candidates who are the best fit, build teams based on complementary personality types, build a solid and positive work culture by understanding team dynamics, and zero in on the personality types that best suit specific roles.

But Don't Rely Solely on Personality Assessments, Either

As much I'm a big advocate for using data and analytics wisely, the hiring process is still about finding the right human being for your work culture. You still have to trust your gut and approach the hiring process more as an art than a science.

Make sure that before adopting a personality assessment as part of your interviewing processes, spend some time looking for the right company to provide that assessment. There is no government regulation in this business sector, so choosing established companies offering personality assessments - like the Myers-Briggs indicator or the Caliper Profile or the Kolbe Assessment - is important.

Make sure to remember that personality assessments should be only a part of your processes - and they certainly aren't the Holy Grail of decision-making when it comes to talent recruitment. In fact, many are wary of the use of personality assessments in the interview process, and that's definitely worth considering. Whitney Martin outlined some relevant considerations for this research. "They can provide tremendous value for self-discovery, team building, coaching, enhancing communication, and numerous other developmental applications," she said, referring specifically to the four quadrant DiSC personality testing. "But due to limited predictive validity, low test-retest reliability, lack of norming and an internal consistency (lie detector) measure, etc., they are not ideal for use in hiring."

In the End, It's About Nurturing Work Culture

I started the post asking whether you'd hire Stephen Colbert--a hypothetical that you and I will likely never face. I'm using Colbert and his tremendous personality to make a point: All of the individual personalities at your workplace impact work culture, and the most charming interviewee is not necessarily always the best match. As a recruiter, it is important to look beyond hard skills and consider the individual personalities of each candidate, because it matters. A lot.

Organizations and employees benefit when there is a good work culture groove. And it only takes one person who doesn't fit into that groove to upset your entire workplace dynamic. By being cognizant of this issue, you will not only create a happier and more productive workplace, you'll also save a lot of time and money. Most importantly, you'll make your employees happier people.

Increasingly more business leaders understand how important individual employees and corporate culture as a whole are to the overall health of their organization. In today's workforce, these are the leaders focused on success.