Behaviours and attitudes

We look at behavioural profiling when recruiting, building and sustaining a high performing team.

The traditional recruitment process, while effective in many ways, doesn’t tell the whole story about a candidate. 

That’s why more and more organisations are using behavioural profiling to ascertain whether candidates have the personality traits - as well as the skills - a vacant role calls for.

Know your people

Cast your mind back to the last time you recruited into your team.

The chances are you read each candidate’s CV and other credentials, drew up a shortlist and invited your preferred applicants to an interview where you tested their technical skillsets. Then, using your interview skills and excellent judge of character (you are, after all, a lawyer), you’ll have selected your new employee.

This is the standard selection process in many organisations and, mostly, it works. However, although we don’t like to admit it, all of us get it wrong at sometimes. Getting it wrong affects many parties.

  • You’ll be disappointed in yourself.
  • The candidate will feel out of place,
  • Your organisation will be affected financially.
  • The episode may have disrupted your clients and the rest of your team and placed additional workload on them.

Enter behavioural profiling

Organisations have historically used cognitive ability tests as their main psychological tool when hiring, but there's now compelling evidence that behavioural profiling enables hirers to build more sustainable, successful and dynamic teams. Many organisations haven't considered this type of profiling before because the recruitment process has centred on core technical skillsets and competency-based interviewing.

However, adopting behavioural profiling tools and integrating the concepts into your existing team (no matter how small or large), will give you greater visibility of individuals and help you make informed decisions about recruiting and nurturing talent.

So, when scoping a vacant role in your team and preparing a job description, take time to think about what it calls for in terms of behavioural strengths, as well technical skills and experience. By factoring these aspects from the outset, you'll be in a better position to assess candidates across all your criteria – and recruit the best available candidate.

When doing this it is important not just to think about replacing the behaviours that the role's former occupant had (even if that was you!). It is about identifying the best mix of behaviours to meet the client's needs, your team's needs and your own needs.

Remember that a successful team is often one which is rounded in all respects, so it might mean that you need someone with a different profile to those that you already have.

Make better hiring decisions

Behavioural profiling assessments can reveal an individual's behavioural work style and preferences. The benefits work both ways: you get the best person for the job and your new recruit will be highly productive and satisfied because their job matches their behavioural profile.

Assessments can also identify where a team member is lacking direction, becoming frustrated in their role or experiencing background issues. All this information is invaluable to you as a leader. It’ll help you identify areas for employee training and support your case when asking your organisation to provide learning and development programmes.

Armed with these insights, let’s return to your recruitment process.

As before, you’ve identified a potential candidate: they have the right experience, the right skills and their cultural values mirror those of your organisation. The candidate’s profile says they manage and influence stakeholders beyond the legal function in their current role. You invite the candidate to an interview.

At this point, behavioural analysis will give you the insights into the candidate you need.

The analysis may suggest that your candidate, while a great team player, has a preference for avoiding confrontation and finds influencing stakeholders more challenging than they’ve admitted to in their application. You can design some questions for the interviews to allow you to see for yourself the strength of the preference then form a view. The candidate's behavioural trait might not be a big problem but the fundamental point is that you’ve identified this upfront, before committing yourself to the candidate. You can then factor this information when assessing this candidate up against others.

Without employing behavioural profiling as part of your recruitment process, you would probably not have picked up on the candidate's behavioural style and preferences. By discovering this early, you can discuss learning and development needs upfront and (assuming they join your team) factor it in to how you supervise them, who you pair them up with in the legal team and which clients to assign them to.

It can also help identify issues to work on as part of their personal development plan (for example, helping them to learn ways to manage these behaviours so that they can continue to develop and to grow in their role).

There’s more good news. Given the right training, people can enhance and develop positive behavioural traits in a short period of time. This is in stark contrast to core skills, which improve steadily over extended periods. Once you’ve identified these traits through behavioural profiling, an willing employee can balance their developmental areas with their existing strengths and quickly become a high performing team member.

Not just for individuals

So far, we’ve looked at behavioural traits on an individual basis. However, this is only one side of the coin. To create a high performing, diverse and sustainable team, you also need to understand the group’s own dynamic and behavioural traits. Harnessing these will add real value and effectiveness across your team.

By profiling your team, you’ll get an in-depth understanding of their preferred communication styles and discover how best to work with your opposite or mirrored self. You’ll also be able to help team members tap into their own strengths and discover for themselves how they can contribute to the wider team effort, to work more effectively with their clients and to be better participants in multi-departmental company projects.

Only by understanding these traits on a group and individual level will you be able to develop an informed game plan that simultaneously addresses peoples’ developmental needs and exploits the opportunities open to your organisation.

No matter how small or large your team, take time to explore the opportunities and benefits that behavioural profiling provides. you could find it a powerful tool.


Behavioural profiling can fill in the gaps that traditional recruitment methods leave open. For example, a CV and a face-to-face interview can assure you that a candidate is suitably skilled, sufficiently experienced and well presented. However, they can’t highlight a candidate’s attitude to confrontation or ability to influence key stakeholders. Behavioural profiling can provide these insights and help you make better hiring decisions, plan learning and development for new recruits and build a well-balanced team.

To adopt behavioural profiling into your own recruitment processes, a good starting point is your HR team who will probably already be using it for recruitment purposes in other parts of your organisation.

To read a viewpoint from Paul Bentall relating to this article click here.