Career paths are frequently erratic and fortuitous; often owing as much to luck as to judgement. If you ask a colleague, “How did you come to be doing the job you do now?”, it is likely that the account of career development provided will be rationalised, resulting in the perception of more planning and astute decision making than may really be warranted.

It may be true for a tiny minority that “I wanted to do this for as long as I can remember”, but many will have been constrained by the opportunities available at critical points in their education and training and the pure chance lottery of openings on offer when they first entered the job market.

For job candidates, this rationalisation will influence self-perceptions about past experiences, what they think they are good and poor at, furnishing plausible and coherent, but dubious, interview responses.

For the interviewer, this poses a different problem. If there is only a hazy idea about what makes a good candidate, the result of a successful selection is no better than chance. There are so many biases that influence decision making that if there is no game plan, you will easily be blown off course. Charisma often wins hands down, which may actually go down well in the creative industries. The problem is, it can also hide a multitude of shortcomings.

So what should you be looking for? Asked to draw up the competencies required in media and marketing, most people tend to focus on creativity and communication skills matched with a self-confident personality – that’s the charisma element dealt with then. While these are obviously important, Psychological Consultancy Ltd (PCL) has identified that attention to detail, information management, results orientation and an analytical mind can also be important, as can other features such as flexibility, commitment and resilience, all depending on the particular role under consideration.

These competencies are influenced significantly by personality, which is deep-rooted and difficult to change. We all have behavioural biases; some subtle and nuanced, and others bold and in your face. On the surface, we may bely these biases in an attempt to do what is expected of us rather than what we want to be. This works in the short term but, over time, it will be a losing battle.

There are many reasons then for introducing something systematic into the selection process and there are two key techniques you can apply:

1) Use a job analysis survey to determine the essential qualities for the job and the personality characteristics that support those competencies.

2) Use a personality questionnaire to identify where the candidate’s profile matches the job analysis results.

If you want to find out more about how your personality affects your choice of job role, Brand Republic has teamed up with Psychological Consultancy to provide an online personality questionnaire.

In return, readers will receive a tailored personal development report which describes your personality and helps you to consider its implications for your work and your career.

Published April 2014, Brand Republic

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