Using Past Behaviour As An Indicator Of Future Performance

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The best way to measure whether a candidate measures up to job requirements is through a planned interview that will reveal as much as possible of the job applicant’s past behaviour.

In revealing the applicant’s past behaviour you can assess on the basis of how various situations were dealt with historically – and thereby predict future performance.

You can appraise a person on this basis because future behaviour tends to mirror past behaviour.  For example, if you want a leader, look for a person who has demonstrated leadership ability in the past.  Because it is very difficult to change behaviour habits, hire a person who doesn’t need changing.

This doesn’t mean that people do not change in some ways as they go through life.  We all change with new experiences and new knowledge and through exposure to different people.  Although our skills, knowledge and experience are constantly changing, our basic personality, temperament and character remain fairly stable.

The truth of this can be determined by examining the lives of your family and life long friends.  Those who were stubborn and determined in their early days are stubborn and determined today and will continue to be so in the future.  Similarly, those who were more flexible and easy going in their early days have carried traits into their later life.  The same applies to the aggressive, the sociable, the restless.

People who always seek out competitive activities tend to show competitive traits through life, those who choose co-operative hobbies are most likely to want to co-operate at work.  People who always want to be the leader of their group and captain of their team may struggle with being just one amongst equals, or in a team with an already strong and established leader.

There are extreme cases, of course, in which people have undergone drastic personality changes, but these are unusual.  Most people go through life with the temperament, personality and character they inherited and developed in their early years.  The key to assessing a candidate then, lies in being able to analyse past performance.  Your job, as an interviewer, is to ask questions that will elicit responses that describe past behaviour.