“You are what you were, and will be what you are”

Part III – Targeting High Performers – Behavioral DNA

The third step to successful hiring is to hire for those high performing behaviors that are specific to the job in question. Hiring for such behaviors, however, does not mean that you must suddenly become a devotee of the fashionable personality test approach to recruiting. Knowing where a candidate resides on the confidence spectrum is only significant to the extent that self-confidence is necessary to the role. Does the candidate, for example, require confidence to fuel the negotiation chops required to secure a complex lease agreement?
Talent management professionals need to re-evaluate the merits of their personality assessment tools
Talent management professionals need to re-evaluate the merits of the personality assessment tools they are using for critical hires. The most popular of these personality tests attempts to measure a broad range of basic traits including emotional intelligence.  While they can offer useful insight about both individuals and teams (including gaps in a management team’s composite profile), psychological research has consistently proven that these personality measures do little to predict how well a candidate will actually perform on the job. This lack of predictive validity likely sheds light on why so many executives balk at completing these tests. They have seen for themselves that identifying someone as an “idealist” or “counselor” or “analytical driver” rarely translates into something they can use in a real-world scenario. In the absence of role-based behavioral requirements, a personality profile is data without purpose. And many employment candidates, regularly subjected to such tests and thus well aware of their profile’s attributes, have already concluded that broad personality tests cannot provide a reliable path forward for their career plans. They have discovered for themselves that a correlation between these broad personality test types and successful on-the-job performance is a phantom in the wind.
Personality testing can deliver valuable insights, but they don’t predict performance outcomes – unless the attributes they unveil are closely mapped to specific job requirements. If job performance is what’s at stake, then the goal of these assessments should be to uncover those metrics that best predict the individual’s ability to leverage pre-existing behavioral traits that can be applied to successfully execute on the specific demands of the position.
Personality testing can deliver valuable insights, but they don’t predict performance outcomes
Knowledge can be taught, skills can be acquired, experience can be fostered but the behavioral profile necessary to be successful and happy in a specific role must be in place if the candidate is to be successful. Seventy five percent (75%) of employees in most companies don’t like what they do. Imagine the impact to the culture, productivity and profitability of a firm if senior executive were to reduce that percentage by a mere 10% simply by hiring people with behavioral profiles correctly matched to the job in question. Consider Southwest Airlines or Westjet as examples of what can be achieved when employees enjoy their work.
Our Western cultural upbringing teaches us to believe we can be anything, do anything, and achieve greatness simply by applying ourselves – the force of will. We’re taught that we can improve our life by identifying and improving upon our weaknesses. Everything from Disney films to pop psychology bestsellers to executive coaching tomes insists that if we get to grips with our weaknesses we can overcome all odds. And while addressing one’s weaknesses is a laudable goal, for many, the efforts may be misspent. From the career-planning standpoint, an individual may be better served by addressing only those vocationally specific areas that need strengthening. What’s more, the effort spent on addressing weaknesses might be more productively applied to enhancing strengths or those near-strengths that are applicable to an individual’s career path. A brand guru renowned for creativity and strategic insight may be better served strengthening her pre-existing big-picture prowess than trying to caulk the gaping holes in her analytical skills.

Imagine the reduction in parental and child angst if your son or daughter not only knew what industry sectors they would most enjoy, but also which specific roles their behavioral profile and their ability to achieve high-performance correlate. Offering vocational clarity by sweeping away personal doubt with respect to what one can enjoyably achieve in life, providing one has the proper academics and access to experience is a powerful insight to have at the start of a career.

Addressing one’s weakness is a laudable goal, for many, the effort may be misspent
After 25 years of interviewing, I have concluded that people are generally unable to radically change their behavioral profile. Rote patterns typically govern everything from personal to social and vocational decisions. People default to learned patterns of behavior. They are what they were and will be what they are. And the latest science on the human brain indicates further that our behavioral traits are pretty much fixed by age 24 – the age where humans achieve the ability to exercise good judgment. So if you know someone that’s sitting in his parent’s basement drinking Pepsi and playing point and shoot games at age 24, there is a high probability that he will be doing something similar at 44 – although not necessarily in a basement anymore. Subject to the individual possessing the correct weighting of a spectrum of approximately 24 key performance traits out of a measurable eighty-four, this same 44-year-old may end up a highly effective digital warrior in the basement of the Pentagon. Similarly, if a 24 year old woman who possesses the 22 key traits required of a high performing CEO of a billion dollar corporation, then the predictive accuracy is such (85%) that one would be wise to keep an eye on her progress – she likely won’t disappoint. In the real estate domain, the same math holds true for VP Retail Leasing or a broker – align the traits to the role, and the result is predictable high performance.
“You are what you were, and will be what you are”
A further example as to why one should hire for behavior relevant to the position is to mitigate the impact of stress on corporate productivity. A few of the attributes associated for dealing with ‘life stresses’ are behavioral based; some coping attributes but not limited to, is one’s orientation to ‘being a workaholic, or prone to addiction, the need for intimacy or exercise.’ By knowing the coping attribute one is likely to default to, is critical to understanding their ability to succeed in a particular stressful role. What firm, big or small hasn’t had to budget for stress leave?
“Behavioral psychology has come a long way since the days Guidance Counselors subjected us to tests authored by Alchemists and Wizards.”
Behavioral psychology has come a long way since the day’s guidance counselors subjected us to tests authored by alchemists and wizards. Unfortunately many of those assessment tests are still in circulation, some are more granular in the number of attributes assessed, many shouldn’t be used for hiring, and few can claim accuracy beyond 70% validity. For instance, the validity of a Myers-Briggs, the workhorse of Personality Testing is in the high 50’s but covers less than 30 attributes. It’s a cheap and cheerful placebo for hiring process thoroughness. 
Imagine! Applying actuarial science to manage hiring risk. It’s enough to make your eyes glaze over!
Consider a slate of candidates for a critical hire, a scenario you deal with regularly – there is some variation to each candidate’s knowledge, skill and experience but not enough to radically change the selection math. Now imagine the financial impact on your business if you had the wherewithal to predict within 85% percent accuracy not only a candidate’s potential for “career success” but also handicap the prediction to include “career satisfaction.”  This capability exists
Rutherford International has the capacity to predict present and future performance in over 600 specific executive and staff roles including retail leasing and brokerage.
Rutherford International has the capacity to predict present and future performance in over 600 specific executive and staff roles including retail leasing and brokerage. By the end of Q2-2014, with the assistance of our corporate sponsors, we expect our behavioral scientist to complete the research on the balance of occupations within the commercial real estate industry.
With a high degree of certainty, our benchmarks are able to compare candidates to other “highly successful” individuals in career roles relevant to the position our clients are seeking to fill, and establish a succession plan or determine who will benefit the most from career development courses. The corollary of our actuarial approach to measuring high performance is that we can predict the probability of failure with similar accuracy. The ability to predict the potential for success or failure through our behavioral benchmark counters the need to “narrow frame” the experiential or academic requirements of the position. As referenced in the first article regarding the potential for human rights complaints, you now have an empirical based response grounded in actuarial science.
“Hiring instinct? I’ll take your gut feeling and raise you an Actuary.”
You improve the probabilities of better hiring outcomes by making better decisions. It need not be a crap game nor is it rocket science but rather an exercise in combining behavioral science with actuarial science.

I hope this series of articles helps you improve hiring outcomes along with providing you with some insight into the scope of services we offer our clients. Please don’t hesitate to call me should you require additional details. The international number is 1-855-256-5778, alternatively my email is forbes@rutherfordinternational.com.

I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/rutherfordintl or follow my Blog at http://rutherfordinternational.blogspot.ca to view the series in its entirety.
A brief outline of my recruiting companies and their related services is listed below. We would welcome an opportunity to assist you with the growth of your firm and the development of your career.
With sincere regard,
Forbes J. Rutherford,
Vertical Offering of Recruitment Services
The Rutherford Group of Companies consists of a vertical of specialized recruiting firms that complement each other at various stages along the recruiting value chain. Each firm offers clients a varied approach to talent acquisition at a different cost per hire. The pricing varies from ‘Least’ to ‘Most’ and is subject to the urgency of your hiring need.
By adapting your point of entry onto the “recruiting value chain,” our methods let you ‘test the waters’ before jumping completely into the talent pool. Depending upon urgency, your first point of entry can be the running an ad on our international job board (www.rejobnet.com) at a very low cost of entry.
Alternatively, you can engage our ‘job ad agency’ (www.retalentselect.com) to implement a job marketing and employer brand management strategy to target market your position to relevant candidates.
If your need requires immediate resolution, your third option is to engage our team of experienced recruiters who will pro-actively seek talent within your targeted talent market (www.nextalent.ca).
Properly employed, the cost savings are significant; a job advertising and employer brand marketing campaign through REtalentSelect.com is equal to the cost of an average career ad in the Wall Street Journal.
“What if a pro-active job ad campaign doesn’t produce results?”
If the REtalentSelect.com ad campaign doesn’t produce desired results, we allow you to credit one half of the REtalentSelect basic fee to an upgraded NEXtalent recruiting option. With this approach, depending upon urgency, you are able to begin your talent acquisition process utilizing a very robust low cost recruiting option in advance of engaging a headhunter.


  1. Rutherford International Executive Search Group Inc. – Executive/Board Search, Succession Planning & Team Analysis, Facilitate M&A; opportunities specifically Roll-Up of Real Estate Service Companies, Match High Performing Executives and Capital Investors, Asset Stabilization & Platform Restructuring, Support Client Growth into New Markets by Identifying Platforms that are open to Acquisition or Strategic Alliance, Behavioral Research – www.rutherfordinternational.com
  2. NEXtalent Inc. – Paid on a success basis, this company supports recruitment assignments where base salary is under $150,000.00; and/or identification of project teams. We’re open to corporate volume contracts where there is an annualized human capital resource plan in place. Offices currently in Toronto and Calgary with planned expansion to Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver by Q1-2014. Having access to Rutherford International’s research department, NEXtalent currently recruits throughout Canada in the following sectors: Lenders, Direct Investors, Advisory Firms, REIT’s, REOC’s, Property/Facility Managers, GC’s and Retailers/Hospitality – www.nextalent.ca;
  3. REtalentSelect.com is an Interactive Real Estate Job Ad Agency that markets your employer brand including active job openings utilizing Web 2.0 & SEO technology, newsletters and targeted emails. The firm puts your opportunity directly in front of relevant candidates, our researchers process the response and experienced recruiters are on-hand to short-list for you on a time and material basis.  Depending upon the base salary, this process is approximately a quarter of a recruiter’s fee. In fact, one client was able to hire two individuals from the single ad campaign thereby achieving incredible savings over traditional recruiting methods. – www.retalentselect.com; 
  4. REjobnet.com – International Real Estate Job Board aggregates job opportunities from 53 countries. Clients are able to purchase a single ad or a package of five or ten postings at a volume rate. For larger volume clients, we host a micro-site for you that can be actively linked to the homepage of REjobnet.com and your web site Career Page. – www.rejobnet.com

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