Could We Hire 2 Personalities for the Price of 1?

I’ve been doing a lot of research into modern assessment tools, including everything from games to even DNA assessments. Two types of assessments I love, but are still in their childhood as far as development goes, are micro-expressions and linguistic assessments.

Basically micro-expressions measure your uncontrollable micro-expressions: facial twitches that happen in less time then a normal human eye can consciously process. Facial expressions are in the childhood of their development. Last year we found eye movement during routine tasks has predictive value, but it’s not implemented anywhere yet. Linguistics measure how you write things, the words you use, the length of the sentences, etc. Both can build personality profiles pretty accurately, but at the moment still with a lot of “issues” in specific cases.

Both claim to be fully unbiassed when it comes to ethnicity and cultural background. Although I trust they are, I would like to question the limits of the research done up until now.

This same questioning of research applies to old-fashioned questionnaires. By that I mean the actual language used, not the words within the language. The problem with all the research is that they have always be done in a single language. Yet the language we use to think in might actually influence our character.

Dual Lingual

A couple of years ago when I was traveling I met a Japanese/Brazilian man in a restaurant. He told me something that recently got me thinking about multiple personalities in a non-schizophrenic way. He told me the following:

I was brought up dual lingual. Both Japanese as well as Portuguese are my mother tongue, so I can think in both. As a management consultant I change my thinking language depending on the role I am supposed to have in a meeting. If I’m the auditor I think in Japanese, because Japanese always see risks and are very reluctant to share information. When my role is to be the energy in the room and bring ideas, I think in Portuguese because Brazilians are always energetic and share everything they think of.

His personality literally changed because of the language he used to think. This makes me question a few things. First of all, do we have one personality, or do we all have several that will come out depending on circumstances? How does the language we use influence the personality of the person being assessed?

Questions Asked

Even though micro-expression assessment does not look at the actual answers you give, it still tends to ask questions in a certain language.

Although most people will always think in their mother tongue, some people, and I know several including myself, are so profound in their second language that we can actually think in that language too. 

So if you ask, for example, a German/Brazilian person the questions in German, he will probably have a slightly different personality than if you ask them in Portuguese. Both ways are fully valid, but might give different results. Of course this doesn’t matter if the working language is the same as the assessment language, since he or she will be thinking in that language and hence that personality type will be dominant.

Bi-cultural, Bi-lingual Research

All of this is just my theory, based on just a single remark and some observance. But I do believe we need to do a lot more research into this topic. There might be really nice hiring opportunities as well in hiring bi-cultural and/or bi-lingual workers. Two personalities for the price of one. You just need to create the right environment to access them.

Bas van de Haterd is a strategic recruitment consultant who helps companies recruit smarter. He's an international speaker on recruitment innovation. He is passionate about HR technology and how it can improve hiring processes and make them less biased. In the Netherlands, he runs research and an event called Digitaal-Werven that focuses on the candidate experience, and he is also the co-organizer of the European Recruitment Innovation event: Talent Acquisition Live. Follow Bas on Twitter @bvdhaterd or on LinkedIn.
 

 

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