Is personality profiling part of your hiring process? Should it be?

Profiling predicts how a person is apt to behave, given certain situations. Personality assessment surveys typically take 15 to 20 minutes to complete, can be administered in person or via the Internet, and cover broad areas of behavior such as extraversion, agreeableness, emotional stability, conscientiousness, and openness to change.

Not all home improvement companies profile sales hires. And those that do counsel that it's just part of the process, though an important one. “It's a tool in your total evaluation,” says Brian Leader, president of ImproveIt, in Columbus, Ohio, which has used personality profiling in the sales hiring process for years. “The minute you rely on it exclusively to hire or not hire, you're in trouble.”

MULTIDIMENSIONAL Grant Mazmanian, president of Pinnacle Group International, a Media, Pa., organization that administers and evaluates behavioral surveys — with a database that includes information from 144 home improvement companies — says that just knowing that a candidate is extraverted and prone to assertiveness isn't enough. Certain traits will emerge as a result of the way people are managed or even the product they sell.

For example, Mazmanian has Window World clients and Renewal by Andersen (RBA) clients. That's significant, he says, because having a design sense — how colors and textures work together — is critical to selling an upscale composite product for RBA but not so much for selling Window World's more affordable vinyl windows.

Mazmanian agrees that often home improvement company owners in hiring mode are “looking for that golden boy or golden girl” who exhibits tenacity and assertiveness. And although those qualities are always useful, it some-times takes a really good manager to bring them out in the salesperson, which is the reason why Pinnacle Group surveys not just the applicant but the owner and sales manager as well.

Personality profiling, Mazmanian says, should reveal whether or not “[the hiree] matches the culture of the company they're selling for. If they don't, they won't be happy.”

TRAINABLE Fred Finn, president of Euro-Tech, a siding and window company in suburban Chicago, says that his company includes personality profiling as part of the hiring process. Profiles, he says, are “good for picking out the guy who has the possibility of being successful.”

For Finn, both the profile and follow-up interviews count, but what counts the most is the hiree's performance in three weeks of training classes, which include canvassing. “You want someone who works hard and has good habits,” he says. “Someone trainable.” Finn says he's learned to avoid people who are “stubborn and have big egos. They're tough to manage.”