Home » Blog » Hiring » Using behavioral requirements to get the right people in the right seats

Using behavioral requirements to get the right people in the right seats

A majority of companies and their hiring managers don’t give adequate consideration to the behaviors needed for a role.

“I wish I had five more Bobs.”

“I need another three Marys.”

These kinds of statements are common from business owners and hiring managers. There is a level of frustration in these comments—a longing to find that perfect hire; to get the right person in the right seat. Frustrated with more and more new hires that don’t work out as well as high attrition rates, managers are crying out for help. In one recent conversation, a hiring manager stated that, “Employees leave for an extra dollar, and our new hires aren’t working out!”

Part of the trouble comes from the fact that many hiring teams do not adequately consider the requirements of a position. Another fundamental problem is they overlook the behavioral characteristics of Bob and Mary that make them excel like they do. In other words, what is it about their personality (their core behaviors) that allows them to thrive in their environment? Part of the answer with these shining stars is job/behavior fit. That is, their respective behaviors are a good match for the behavioral requirements of their jobs.

Yet when we polled 750 executives and HR directors, the majority of them readily conceded that they don’t give a lot of thought to required behavioral traits of the candidate.


Think of it this way. All jobs have requirements. There are benchmarks that define the role. It is very likely that Bob and Mary are shining so brightly because they are wired in such a way that it matches the benchmarks of the role that they’re in. Yet, many organizations (less than 50%) give much thought to behavioral traits. Almost 40% of survey respondents say their job postings usually don’t describe the behavioral traits they’re looking for in a candidate.

PIE Chart.svg

How important are behavioral traits to new hire success, retention, and employee engagement? Let’s look at our Bob and Mary examples.

Bob loves numbers, routine tasks, and he even gets excited around new policies and procedures. He likes things done right, he always gets his work done on time, and his attention to detail is stellar. These are examples of Bob’s behavioral traits. They are measurable traits required in many jobs, e.g., accounting, administration, legal work…etc. When “Bob” and “job” are matched, the magic happens. Because the job is wired for Bob’s behavior, Bob can give his full self to his work. He’s happy. He’s producing great work, and his company is happy. However, if we put Bob in a role that requires risk, unknowns, uncertainty, and lots of flexibility, he’ll likely be stretched so far outside his comfort zone, that he’ll become ineffective. He’ll start performing poorly; our shining star will flicker, then fade.

Join 10,000 companies solving the most complex people problems with PI.

Hire the right people, inspire their best work, design dream teams, and sustain engagement for the long haul.

Mary, on the other hand, is a results-driven, need-to-make-an-impact kind of gal. She wants to get things done, and she wants to get them done quickly. She’ll do whatever it takes, pushing the envelope, and breaking new ground. She has a powerful personality and can talk your ear off. Like Bob, Mary’s behavioral traits are identifiable—and they’re predictable. Mary will thrive in any number of positions that require working with people, taking risks, and driving hard for results. However, if Mary is bogged down with routine tasks, or overburdened with policy and procedure, it’ll knock the wind out of her sales, and she’ll lose the shine as well.

While we all want more Bobs and Marys, it’s important to consider two things. The first is the behavioral characteristics that make up the job. These are the behavioral requirements or benchmarks that set the standard for a position. The second is to discover how “Bob” and “Mary” are wired. Understanding their behavior allows organizations to determine job fit. When there is a mismatch, it’s ugly and often very expensive and draining on all involved. When there is a match, it’s pure magic.

When an individual’s behavioral traits are matched with a job’s behavioral requirements, both the individual and the organization thrive.


Thad is a senior marketing director at PI.

View all articles
Copy link