SOURCE: Growth Ventures Inc.

March 30, 2011 10:06 ET

Too Often, Organizations Gloss Over Job Candidates' "Dark Sides" -- at Great Cost

"Dark" Aspects of Personality Predict Performance, but Current Hiring Practices Focus Mainly on Bright Side Virtues; Evaluating Dark Side Is Key Because "More Is Worse," Says Dr. David P. Jones, Author of the Forthcoming Million-Dollar Hire

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - March 30, 2011) - Human Resource departments often miss important information when they focus mainly on a candidate's best characteristics -- their "Bright Side." To avoid cost, and add bottom line payoff, hiring programs need to also look at a candidates' "Dark Side" characteristics, such as arrogance, excitability, eccentricity and perfectionism.

"Research again and again shows that more than half of managers and executives fail in the first few years after being hired. This is a major problem because it costs at least two times their salary to replace them. And then there are the 'costs' inflicted on employees, customers, business growth opportunities and the failed manager's poor contribution to the bottom line," says Dr. David Jones, author of the forthcoming book Million-Dollar Hire: Build Your Bottom Line, One Employee at a Time (Jossey-Bass, April 2011).

"A key cause of the failures is that current hiring systems mainly measure candidates' positive characteristics, their 'Bright Side.' Possessing more of these qualities generally means better qualification for the job. But a growing body of evidence is showing how capturing Dark Side information can reduce the turnover that comes with derailment, and the failure that comes from the Dark Side's impact on leaders' teams," says Jones, president of Growth Ventures Inc.

In Million-Dollar Hire, Jones discusses how employers can add Dark Side assessment to improve hiring and, in the process, save millions and improve performance.

Among the Dark Side factors HR departments in leading organizations are taking into account...

  • The characteristics that make up the Dark Side. "In general, the Dark Side includes qualities like arrogance, excitability, eccentricity and perfectionism," Dr. Jones says. "Others include extremes in over-cautiousness and aloofness. There are indeed instruments that measure Dark Side personality elements reliably."

  • The three main Dark Side personalities. "No matter how the Dark Side characteristics are described and measured, they add up to identifying three basic types of tendencies that flower when leaders come under stress, pressure or new demands:

    • People who score high on excitability, aloofness and skepticism, among other qualities. These tend to be people who move against others when stress grows. They attack and try to dominate.

    • People who score high on boldness, mischievousness and colorfulness and related dimensions. These are people who move toward others when under pressure, trying to win them over and manipulate them.

    • People who score high on qualities such as perfectionism and diligence. These are people who typically move away from others when under tough demands, going off on their own to get things done and avoiding contact with others."

  • Why Dark Side personalities cause damage in leadership roles. "Dark Side characteristics have a great deal to do with how a leader interacts with others. It's the job levels that interact with the most people where these traits have the most important impact and become very destructive. Here, those with Dark Side tendencies are more likely to derail under stress, pressure or when faced with new circumstances. The result: high turnover among subordinates, poor performance in their units and lower workforce engagement, plus, a much higher likelihood of being invited to leave the organization," Jones says.

  • Research points to significant payoff from avoiding Dark Side personalities. "There is a growing base of research showing that evaluating both the Bright Side and Dark Side of candidate personalities has a bottom line payoff for other roles. Research shows that screening candidates in roles ranging from supervisors, to sales, account management, financial brokerage, law enforcement and even airline pilots has produced better-performing hires when Dark Side dimensions are considered in the final hiring decision," says Jones.

  • How sophisticated screening can reveal the Dark Side. "Measuring Dark Side characteristics requires sophistication -- both in the screening instruments used and analysis of the results. Structured personality assessment tools provide useful information, without 'turning off' candidates. In addition, comprehensive hiring stage 360-degree reviews can be revealing of Dark Side traits, because they show past subordinates' views and reactions to the candidate," says Jones.

"The cost to organizations from Dark Side personalities is high," Dr. Jones says. "There is a significant upside if these personalities are avoided at the hiring stage, or managed skillfully when found in the current workforce. Managing the Dark Side requires a strategic approach -- one that more and more HR departments are adopting."

For more information, or to arrange an interview or bylined article, contact Frank Lentini of Sommerfield Communications at (212) 255-8386 or lentini@sommerfield.com.

About David P. Jones, Ph. D.

David P. Jones, Ph.D., author of Million-Dollar Hire, is among the few HR strategists to found and develop a major business enterprise. He is the president of Growth Ventures Inc., a human capital advisory firm. He has worked as an organizational psychologist for over thirty years, and launched HRStrategies, an international human resources consulting and outsourcing firm recognized as one of the fastest-growing consulting companies in the U.S. prior to its acquisition by Aon Corporation.

Million-Dollar Hire: Building Your Bottom Line, One Employee at a Time provides business leaders and HR executives with tools for translating recruiting and hiring decisions into financial returns.

Even in a down economy, U.S. business and government make millions of hiring decisions every year. Every decision carries risk. Every hire is an investment. Ideally, every one pays a return. In today's demanding environment, companies no longer have room to get it wrong. Million-Dollar Hire shows how leading companies have re-invented themselves, beat their competition, and added millions to their bottom lines with re-engineered recruiting and hiring practices. Using practical, real world illustrations, it shows that there are tools to treat every hiring decision with the same focus a business applies in acquiring other high-value assets. Million-Dollar Hire will be published April 5, 2011 by Jossey-Bass.

For more information, visit www.million-dollarhire.com.

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